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Ear surgery or otoplasty is usually performed to modify the shape, decrease the separation of the ear with the head or to decrease the size in the case of large ears. In most cases the intervention is performed in children between 4 and 14 years of age. Ear surgery is also possible in adults and there is usually no risk in older patients.
Both, ears that seem to get out of the head (hyperprojected) and those that are too big, can be corrected through this surgery. If you are thinking about an ear surgery for you or your child, this section will give you basic information about the procedure, when it can be helpfull, how it is done, and what results you can expect. However you will not be able to answer all your questions, as they depend on the particular conditions of each patient.
In the surgery planning, several aspects must be considered, such as ear shape, ear size, head size, and symmetry between one ear and the other. It is recommended that parents be aware of their children’s feelings about their separate ears, do not insist on performing surgery until you see that your child really wants to change his appearance regarding the shape and position of his ears. Children who are not comfortable with their ears are usually more cooperative during the intervention and are happier with the results. On your first visit to the surgeon, the patient’s situation will be evaluated and the most appropriate procedure to your particular case will be recommended. It will also give you specific instructions on how to prepare for this surgery.
Ear surgery is usually performed on an ambulatory basis. In some cases, your surgeon may recommend a night prior admission. If you have a small child, your surgeon may recommend general anesthesia, so that he or she will sleep through the entire procedure. For older children and adults, local anesthesia will be applyied in combination with a sedation, which is the most appropriate, staying awake and relaxed. Ear surgery is done in one or two hours, although in more complicated cases it may take longer. The technique to use will depend on the particular problem.
Both children and adults return to their normal lives only a few hours after surgery, although sometimes they may prefer to stay overnight in the hospital next to their child until all the effects of anesthesia have passed. Large bandages are not necessary and you can bathe and wash your hair with normality every 24-48 hours. Your ears may bite or ache for a few days, but these symptoms go away with medication. Stitches will be withdrawn within one week. Any activity in which the ears can be bent, should be avoided for about a month, most adults can return to work 5 days after surgery, children can return to school in 7 days or so if they are careful in games with other children.
The patient should wear a band of cloth for at least a week or two for most of the day and night to help mold and decrease the inflamation process on his ears.
Most patients, both young and old, are very satisfied with the results of this surgery. But keep in mind that the goal is improvement, not perfection. Do not expect your ears to match perfectly (perfect symmetry does not exist, it is not natural), if you have discussed the procedure with your surgeon and are realistic about your expectations, you are most likely to be delighted with the results.