Children and teens who are bothered or self-conscious in regard to their ear placement, positioning and size are potential candidates for Otoplasty Surgery.
What is Otoplasty?
Otoplasty is the surgical revision or correction of one or both ears. It reshapes the ear to balance the features and create a congruent aesthetic.
Otoplasty is appropriate to address the following:
• Ears that fold over on the top (‘lop ears’).
• Ears that protrude distinctly (prominent ears / bat ears).
• Ears that are differently sized and shaped (asymmetrical).
• Ears that are overly large or disproportionate in size.
• Ears that are very small (‘cupped ears’).
• Ears that have suffered injury or trauma.
• Ears affected by congenital conditions.
Why is Otoplasty a common medical aesthetic procedure?
Ear aesthetics have a significant impact on facial aesthetics. Children who have been born with an underdeveloped antihelical fold or abnormal ear tissue formation – may be subjected to teasing and in some cases bullying. Otoplasty is a direct procedure which sorts the problem permanently. Research conducted suggests that the correction of ear aesthetics carries an extremely high patient satisfaction rate of 96%.
At what age is Otoplasty safe to Perform?
Otoplasty is a surgical intervention; if done in a timely manner it can diminish and eliminate awkwardness and social embarrassment associated with the appearance of ears.
It is not recommended to perform the procedure before the ear is almost fully grown which occurs around the age of 5. The ages between 5 and 7 are considered ideal as the ear cartilage is softer than that of adults making it easier to surgically mould. However, one can still achieve good results as an Adult.
What happens during Otoplasty?
Otoplasty is a performed during the day and in general takes between 90-120 minutes. General Anaesthesia is usually recommended for a small child’s comfort while older patients (teenagers and adults) may be eligible for local anaesthesia on its own or with a mild sedative.
Your Surgeon’s specific technique will depend entirely on the unique physical anatomy of the ear(s) in each individual’s circumstance. Common approaches include decreasing and sculpting the existing cartilage as well as precisely placing stitches to reshape the ear.
Is Otoplasty dangerous and painful?
No, Otoplasty is a straightforward and fairly simple procedure which carries minimal risks for healthy eligible children. Ear cartilage is not exceptionally sensitive, and children recover quickly following Otoplasty. The initial 24-hour period will be the most uncomfortable, after which the ear(s) may ‘throb’ or ache for several days. Dr Potgieter will assist with age-appropriate pain management medication.
Does Otoplasty leave scars?
Otoplasty usually involves stitches &/ small incisions. Small scars will result from the incisions, but these should be minimal since the incisions are placed within the ear-folds and are thus camouflaged. Choosing a qualified and experienced Surgeon and following aftercare instructions will assist in preventing the appearance of thick scars.
Can Otoplasty damage my child’s hearing?
No, Otoplasty only deals with the outer tissue and skin of the ear. It does not affect the mechanical and physiological function of the ear.
Recovery time is required after Otoplasty and home is the best place to heal. As such it is best to take school breaks and holidays into account. It is worth noting that while Otoplasty can be performed year-round; your child may find the dressings required immediately following surgery to be more comfortable during cooler weather. Generally, children can return to school after a minimum of 4 days; 7 days is the length of time recommended by Dr Potgieter.
Depending on the surgery technique, the wearing of a headband is often necessary during the recovery process (including at night). This is to assist the new shape of the ear and prevent the treated ear tissue from being bent. Physical activities such as swimming or contact sports such as Rugby need to be postponed while the area heals.
Winter school breaks without holiday travel serve as an excellent opportunity to undergo and recover fully from Otoplasty. Stipulations that would normally be a challenge with active youth are mitigated by the current COVID-19 circumstances. Otoplasty is safe to perform as a daycase procedure on young healthy patients. The risks can be mitigated and managed. Global best practice health standards are employed. Enjoy peace of mind, comfort, and excellence in care.
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