Otoplasty is an operation to reshape or reposition prominent ears. It does not reduce the size of the ear, but by repositioning the ear relative to the side of the head, the operation can help to reduce the prominence of noticeable ears. It is also possible to reduce large earlobes. Interestingly very few people have perfectly symmetrical ears.
Otoplasty is often performed on children in their pre-school years, but many adults present later in life having always wanted their ears to be less prominent. By reshaping and/or repositioning the ears, patients can be less self-conscious and have improved self-esteem.
At a first consultation, I will ask you to tell me in your own words what you wish to change about your appearance. It is important to be honest and forthright as surgery is always tailored to your specific needs and expectations. Do bear in mind, however, that it is not possible to achieve unrealistic expectations. I will try and ensure your ears are as symmetrical as possible after otoplasty.
In addition, I will take a full medical history, including details of any previous surgery – cosmetic or non-cosmetic – previous hospitalisation, chronic medical problems, medication and allergies, whether you smoke or not, the reasons for wanting the procedure and your goals and aspirations.
The examination will concentrate on your proposed treatment, but will also assess your general fitness and suitability for surgery. Routine photographs will be taken. Following the assessment, I will discuss all available options and formulate an operative plan, including what type of surgery and anaesthesia will be used, the venue for surgery and costs. Any risks and possible complications will also be discussed with you.
It is important that you are clear about what your surgery will entail. Well-informed patients cope better with surgery and you have the right to ask any question you want and expect your surgeon to answer with honesty and without the use of jargon. Consent for surgery will also be taken.
We can arrange for you to be admitted as an inpatient to either:
The surgery can be carried out under a general (most children) or local anaesthetic (most adults). I will do most young children’s surgery at St George’s Hospital, where we have dedicated paediatric anaesthetists. If a general anaesthetic is required, a consultant anaesthetist will see you on the day of the surgery. The surgery takes approximately 1.5 hours. The incisions are behind the ear and dissolvable stitches are used. You will need to wear a turban-type dressing for a week after the operation.
If performed by a fully qualified and accredited plastic surgeon in a proper operating theatre under sterile conditions on a relatively fit and healthy patient, otoplasty is a safe procedure. In general, complications are rare and otoplasty is associated with a very high degree of patient satisfaction. However, as with any surgical procedure, there are certain risks, and complications and these will be explained to you at your consultation. These risks include:
You will wake up with a head bandage on and you should be quite comfortable as long-acting local anaesthetic will be used to numb the ears. You will be asked to sit up as much as possible. This procedure is usually carried out as a day case admission; you will spend the rest of the day after your operation in your room and will be discharged towards the end of the day. You should arrange to be collected from hospital as you will not be able to drive yourself home.
Arrangements will be made for you to see me after one week to have your head dressing removed and your wounds cleaned and checked. Return to work is usually between 1-2 weeks. It is advisable to make arrangements for help at home during your convalescence, which should be at least one week, especially if you have young children. Although the ears initially appear bruised, the colour, bruising and swelling settle down very quickly. Contact sports should be avoided for 4-6 weeks following surgery and strenuous activity should be avoided for approximately four weeks as it could increase your blood pressure.
I will discuss the exact nature of your treatment, including procedure details, recovery times, costs and any possible side effects at a consultation. This will reflect your exact circumstances and needs. The information included here is provided for general guidance only.