How Do You Get Otoplasty? Let Us Count the Ways
- 16 May 2016
Cosmetic ear surgery or otoplasty may seem like a straightforward procedure, but plastic surgeons make use of various techniques to achieve a patient’s desired results. After all, every patient has a different reason why she wants an otoplasty.
You may want to get an ear surgery because you hate your prominent, elf-like ears. You may also opt for an otoplasty because you want to fix a birth defect in your ears. Whatever your reason is, the important thing is that you understand the procedure and how it can accomplish the results that you want.
What is otoplasty?
Otoplasty is a procedure that cosmetically changes the appearance of your ears. Keep in mind that it does not have any effect on function, so it is usually targeted towards people who are unhappy with the size, shape, or orientation of their ears.
Otoplasty can be reconstructive, wherein the ears are either reshaped according to the patient’s preferences or pinned more closely to the sides of the head so that they do not protrude. Though there are various techniques that surgeons use to do reconstructive otoplasty, they can be classified as either cartilage-scoring or cartilage-sparing, with the former being more invasive than the latter.
Another form of otoplasty is ear reduction, which is used for sculpting larger ears and giving them a more natural look. This is perfect for those who are more concerned about the shape and size of their ears rather than their protrusion.
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How otoplasty is done
Your surgeon will first administer local anesthesia before the procedure although you also have the option of being sedated. An incision is made at the back surface of the ear so that it will not be visible once healed. When incisions are necessary on the front of the ear, they are made within the folds in order to hide them.
Doctors use internal and non-removable sutures to secure the newly-shaped cartilage in place. External stitches are also used to close the incision.
There are many surgical techniques that surgeons use to accomplish the end results of otoplasty. The strategy used depends on the amount of correction that the patient’s ears require. Here are some of the methods used during otoplasty.
Antithetical fold manipulation
The ear’s antithetical fold is basically defined as the inside of the rim of the ears. This Y-shaped structure can be seen at the center of the ears. Doctors usually use antithetical fold manipulation on individuals with congenital ear defects, as they lack cartilage to shape the whole ear.
During this procedure, the cosmetic surgeon makes a full incision on the ear cartilage at the antithetical fold. Applying pressure on the cartilage helps shape the ear. The surgeon may also rough up the antithetical fold’s front surface in order to help the cartilage bend backward and face the defined portion of the ear.
The conchal cartilage is the largest and deepest concavity of the external ear, just before the ear hole. Any deformity in the conchal cartilage can also alter the shape of the antithetical fold, so conchal alteration and antithetical fold manipulation usually go hand-in-hand.
In this technique, the surgeon decreases the conchal angle by 25 degrees. The cartilage is then sutured to a bone below the ear called the mastoid fascia. Your doctor may also choose to remove a part of the conchal cartilage’s thickness in the process. The doctor will then suture the cartilage in order to hide the scars.
Correction of earlobe prominence
This technique is often used in reconstructive ear surgery for patients who complain of the prominence of their earlobes. Because their external ears are located a bit higher in their head, their ears appear to be disproportionately large in comparison with the rest of their head.
To correct earlobe prominence, the surgeon cuts the skin over the medial surface of the earlobe. A small bit of cartilage is taken off the conchal undersurface. The surgeon then pulls the earlobe towards the region where he took a bit off the conchal cartilage and then sutures them together.
Alteration of the position of the auricular upper pole
If the upper third of the pinna is too prominent and antithetical fold manipulation does not help, your doctor may opt to change the position of the auricular upper pole.
The surgeon adds extra cartilage to the underdeveloped areas of the ears, with the cartilage taken from other parts of the ear or even the ribcage. This corrects an underdeveloped or absent pinna.
The auricular upper pole can also be altered by pinning back the ears. The surgeon makes an incision behind the ear and then cuts a small tunnel along the front of the antithetical fold’s tail part. He then loosens the conchal and moves it closer to the head after removing excess skin. The incisions are then sutured.
Complete ear reconstruction
This technique is often used on patients who suffered from an accident, trauma, or cancer. It can also be used for people without external ears.
To reconstruct the ears, the surgeon takes a cartilage from the patient’s ribs. The cartilage is then connected to the patient's skin located in the area where the new ear is to be reconstructed.
The surgeon uses the skin to envelop the ear prosthesis. Once in place, the doctor recreates the pinna and all the other key structures of the ear. Follow-up surgeries are needed to form the earlobe and separate the pinna from the rest of the head.
Other non-surgical techniques
Non-surgical otoplasty techniques are often applied to babies with deformed ears since they have a more malleable pinna. When done during the first six weeks of an infant’s life, the following non-surgical techniques can produce optimal results.
Taping – This technique is called as such because it involves taping the ears to the head. It can be sued to correct an infant’s bat ears.
Designed splits – Splits can be used to treat congenital defects like elf ears, prominent ears, or constricted ears. The doctor performs the split using a wire core segment of a French Silastic Tube. The tube is put in place with tapes, and it stays there for three to four weeks. Splits are regularly replaced to prevent skin erosion on babies. This technique can also be combined with taping for best results.
EarWell and Ear Buddies – These objects act like a tissue molding device that can correct infant ear deformities. If used within a baby’s first week, the results obtained are similar to those stemming from a surgery.
Familiarizing yourself with the different techniques used in otoplasty can help you better prepare for the procedure and recover more quickly. Your doctor should explain to you which technique he is going to use prior to your surgery. If you want to learn more on how otoplasty is performed, please do not hesitate to call and schedule an appointment with us at Face + Body Cosmetic Surgery in Miami, Florida.