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FAQ – Ear reshaping

When is it ok to undergo otoplasty?
Children commonly suffer from this abnormality, as this kind of deformation of the ear is congenital. The outcome: teasing and mocking begins in playschool or primary school. A child shouldn’t undergo ear reshaping until after their sixth or seventh birthday. Only then will the ears have reached 70-80 % of their ultimate size. Possible growth disturbances won’t occur anymore, as in most cases, both ears need to be reshaped. Ear correction is also unproblematic for adult.

When should I decide against otoplasty?
If there is a considerably higher surgical risk, or the risk of a wound healing disorder, you should not undergo surgery. Surgery should only be considered after a thorough consultation and reflection.

What are the results of an otoplasty?
The aim is puckering of the cartilage as well as correction of the pinna. Scars resulting from surgery are usually invisible due to today’s surgical methods.

What exactly happens during surgery?

First the desired puckering will be defined and marked on the front of the ear by bending the pinna into shape. In this way, the incision will be defined on the back of the rear side of the ear.

Usually there is only a small strip of skin, if any, that may be removed so that the space between ear and head does not get too small. Afterwards, parts of the skin of the pinna will be carefully detached. The cartilage will then be cut in a special way or thinned out using a surgical fraise until the tension is reduced sufficiently to be able to easily pucker the chondral tissue.

If it is not only underdeveloped puckering but also malpositioning of the ear, the connecting muscles are cut, to allow the pinna to be repositioned freely. By placing special, partly periosteal stitches, the surgeon is able to reposition the ear. The stitches can be removed free of pain. At the end of the surgery an additional shaping pressure bandage will be applied.

Will I be placed under general anaesthetic?
Children are always placed under general anaesthetic. At a young or adult age you can alternatively be placed under local anaesthetic. However, many patients find the surgical noises unpleasant, as the surgeon operates in the immediate proximity of the acoustic meatus.

Is this an outpatient procedure or will I need to be hospitalised?
Even if you are placed under general anaesthetic, this is normally an outpatient procedure. You may be hospitalised for one day at the most. Sometimes a short stay may be necessary due to accompanying illness, or if domestic care cannot be ensured.

How can I prepare for otoplasty?
No preparation is needed. You do not even need to cut or shave part of your hair.

What do I need to be aware of after surgery?
For approximately one week you will need to wear a head bandage. Afterwards, wearing a headband is sensible, especially at night to protect the operated ear for a further 4-6 weeks.
Physical activities with a higher risk of injury should be avoided, hence young patients are excused from team sports for 6 weeks. Scar formation should be stable thereafter.

What are the risks of an otoplasty?
Complications are fairly rare. The formation of haematomas, which can disrupt the supply to the cartilage, are feared the most. This can result in noticeable scarring – in the worst case scenario, in loss of part of the pinna. Wound infection is extremely rare due to the substantial supply of blood. In rare cases, a stitch may accidentally come undone or the pinna may be folded over unintentionally – should the ear loses its shape, due to a torn stitch or fold, it is no problem at all to correct the pinna again.

Usually there are no complications at all. This applies to every procedure regarding the correction of a deficient cartilage puckering. The fact is that this method will not allow correction of a malpositioned ear without an additional incision being made at the rear of the pinna.

Will I need to go to the doctor’s again later on?
There is no need for any special aftercare, apart from wearing a headband for 4-6 weeks after surgery. This is why even children will have forgotten the whole procedure after a few weeks.

Could (or should) I undergo otoplasty again?
Undergoing otoplasty again is not beneficial if the surgery was successful and correctly performed. The results are permanent. Should your ears be harmed however – in an accident, for example – it may be necessary to reshape them again.

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