Otoplasty or Pinning Back of the Ears
The term otoplasty literally means refashioning of the ears. It is a broad term and is usually given for the procedure involving ear correction surgery such as ‘pinning back’ of the ears, an operation indicated when a person’s ears are extremely prominent and stick out from their head.
What is Involved During the Operation?Many people are self-conscious regarding their appearance and can be very sensitive to any imperfections. Occasionally it is possible for a person’s ears to be more prominent than most, and this can cause embarrassment, be a source of bullying or can affect someone’s confidence. Surgeons use a procedure called an otoplasty to correct this problem, hopefully aiming for the person to be alleviated of this problem.
The operation is normally carried out as a day patient unless there are indications requiring a longer hospital stay such as other medical conditions. Normally performed under general anaesthetic in children, though local anaesthetic options are available for adults, the surgeon assesses the prominence of either both or simply one of the ears, and making a small incision behind the ear, will reshape or remove some of the cartilage that causes the ears to stick out. The wound is then closed using sutures. Occasionally the use of these stitches is all that is needed to correct the problem as they can tighten the skin, pulling the ears back towards the head. The surgeon will reassess their work ensuring that each side is equal and will then dress the wounds using an absorbent ‘head band’ that aims to help keep the ears in place as they heal.
What to ExpectAs with all anaesthetics, the need for starvation for at least six hours prior to the operation will be necessary in order to avoid complications.Any questions or concerns can be addressed during the pre-operative visit by the surgeon or anaesthetist and any outstanding paperwork will be completed.After the operation, expect to have a heavy dressing around your head, this will stay in place for up to two weeks and will help protect the wounds from infection and allow the incisions to heal.Painkillers may be taken to help relieve any discomfort, these may be offered on prescription, though often simple paracetamol will be all that is required for many patients.
If absorbable stitches have been used, these will dissolve by themselves over the following few weeks and will not cause any problems, though itching is common as they absorb; it is important not to scratch at them in order to maintain a small scar and to prevent infection.If non-absorbable sutures have been used, these will be removed either by your local practice nurse, or by the surgeon at a follow-up appointment. Each surgeon will have their own preference regarding sutures choice and post-operative management.The scar should fade over time and eventually will probably be almost unnoticeable. Usually there are no long-term effects following an otoplasty and most patients are extremely pleased with the results.
If you suffer from having overly prominent ears, an otoplasty is a relatively safe and effective way of overcoming this problem. Speak to your GP if you are worried about the size and shape of your ears.