Few surgical procedures are as satisfying to patients as ear reshaping surgery, known as otoplasty.
12 November 2014| Last updated on 30 January 2018
Over 1% of the UK population believes that their ears stick out too much. Having protruding ears will rarely affect a person’s hearing but will frequently cause embarrassment and psychological distress. Ears are one of the first parts of the body to develop to full adult size, so if they protrude they can be particularly noticeable in children and this regularly leads to teasing or bullying. Indeed the fear of their child being bullied will often result in the parents being even more concerned than the child.
Protruding ears can be a hereditary family trait, but this is not always the case. The normal outer ear will project from the side of the head at an angle of about 20 to 35 degrees. However in a small number of people this angle is more than 35 degrees, resulting in the appearance of overt protrusion. It can occur if there is too much cartilage, or if the ridge of cartilage at the top of the ear does not fold properly as it develops. It can also result from an injury. Whilst prominent ears usually occur on both sides, occasionally the problem may affect only one ear.
There are various solutions available to correct ear deformity and the options are discussed here by Dr Allen Rezai, Senior Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon of Harley Street, London, and leader of Elite Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery Group in Dubai Healthcare City. According to Dr Rezai, “If the problem is identified shortly after birth, then the condition can be treated conservatively, simply by applying an appropriate splint. However, only a few months later, the cartilage of the ear will have become considerably stiffer and the splint may need to be in place for many months, even then not always guaranteeing success. Typically, after the age of six months, the only viable option is surgical correction.”
Dr Rezai goes on to explain that “By the age of about five or six years, the outer ear, known medically as the pinna, has attained around 85% of its adult height and most surgeons recommend waiting until this time to correct prominent ears. However many parents are keen to have the ear correction carried out as early as possible, fearing that their child will be stigmatized at school. Nevertheless it is generally more prudent to wait until the child actually mentions the problem, at which time the effects of ear reshaping surgery on a child's self-image are generally immediate and significant.”
According to Dr Rezai, the procedure for otoplasty surgery in adults is typically performed under either local anesthesia alone, or local anesthesia with sedation. In the case of children, a general anesthetic is usually administered. An incision will be made behind the ear, in the groove between the ear and the side of the head, leaving a scar that is very well-concealed and virtually impossible to find. If the ear lobe is also large, then it is possible to reduce its size during the same operation. The surgery itself takes about 45 minutes and many patients will return home the same day, others staying in hospital overnight. For those engaged in non-physical work, Dr Rezai usually finds that they can return to work within 1 week, and resume normal physical exercise within 2 to 4 weeks.
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In many cases, according to Dr Rezai, it is adult patients who are seeking ear reshaping surgery for themselves. They have perhaps been considering it for many years and are now at long last ready to take the plunge, setting out to correct those annoying things about their features that have troubled them perhaps for much of their lives.
For more information concerning ear reshaping surgery and other types of facial surgery or to book a Consultation with Dr Allen Rezai at Elite Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery Group please visit our website or call +971 4 431 239.