Otoplasty is a plastic surgery procedure designed to improve the appearance of the ears and is often simply referred to as “ear surgery.” It can reshape the ear in a variety of ways, and is most commonly performed to change the angle that the ears protrude from the head, sometimes called “ear pinning.” This type of otoplasty is often performed on children or teens.
Additionally, otoplasty may be performed to correct damage to the ear caused through injury or other means. Otoplasty is often chosen to repair the earlobes after stretching the earlobe piercing, either intentionally or due to wearing heavy earrings over time.
While common, otoplasty is a relatively complex surgery that should only be performed by a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon. In some cases, patients may require a second otoplasty procedure to correct mistakes made in their initial surgery or negative consequences of improper healing.
Thankfully, otoplasty rarely impacts the functionality of the ears. However, improper techniques or healing may result in dissatisfactory cosmetic results. If patients are not satisfied with the way that their ears look after an otoplasty, a revision otoplasty can be performed to correct any issues.
Two of the most common issues with otoplasty results are that the ears have continued to grow after a surgery performed in childhood or that the projection of the ears has been overcorrected, resulting in an unnatural “pinned back” look. A plastic surgeon with a more detailed eye for an aesthetically balanced and natural-looking ear can correct these issues.
In addition, aesthetic concerns such as asymmetry, conspicuous scarring, “telephone ear” (where the top and bottom of the ears protrude), or insufficient reduction may be corrected.
Revision otoplasty is performed in much the same way as an initial otoplasty procedure, with special care taken to address the reason for seeking a revision procedure. The surgery is typically performed under local anesthesia as an outpatient procedure. Depending on the goal of the surgery, surgical techniques such as suturing, cartilage reconstruction, or cartilage implants or grafts may be used.
Before choosing revision otoplasty, it’s important to wait until your initial surgery is completely healed. Final results of an initial otoplasty are not visible until all swelling and bruising has subsided, which may take between three months to a year. For children, it is also important to wait until the ears are done growing and may be beneficial to wait until the teen years to undergo a revision otoplasty to ensure harmony with the facial features.
It is not necessary to return to the surgeon who performed your initial otoplasty for a revision procedure; in fact, this is often not advisable. Choosing a highly qualified surgeon is of critical importance. Your revision otoplasty surgeon should hold several years of experience in performing otoplasties and U.S. board certification. Both Dr. Deschamps-Braly is certified through the American Board of Plastic Surgery.