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Ear Surgery

What is ear surgery exactly

1) What is ear surgery exactly?

Otoplasty – commonly known as ear correction or ear pinning – is a surgical procedure designed to set prominent ears closer to the head, to improve their overall shape, or to reduce their size. Prominent ears or “bat ears” can exist in a myriad of forms, including cup ear, shell ear, bat ear, and lop ear. Many candidates suffering from these conditions attempt to camouflage the deformity with hairstyling.


2) What type of ear surgery is suitable for me?

There are two main methods to ear surgery that can be performed:

Otoplasty/ear surgery can be employed as either a cosmetic or reconstructive procedure. It can reduce large ears, reshape the cartilage in ears with unnatural shapes, reduce large or stretched earlobes, rebuild new ears for people born without lobes or after an injury, reduce large creases and wrinkles in the ear or increase the size of very small ears.

Ear pinning surgery is one of the most commonly elected ear procedures, enabling the correction of ears that stick out by setting or “pinning” them back closer to the head.


3) Am I a good candidate for Otoplasty?

Some commonly desired outcomes for candidates considering Otoplasty are:

  • Correcting prominent or protruding ears are ears that are perceived as sticking out too far from the side of the head
  • Correcting large or deformed earlobes (including ‘lob ear’, where the tip of the ear bends down and forward)
  • Correcting shell ear (this occurs when certain features of a normal ear are missing, such as the curve in the outer rim and other natural folds)
  • Improving the size of tiny ears or ears without natural creases
  • Correcting dissatisfaction with previous ear surgery
  • Minimising protruding ears (due to excessive cartilage)
  • Correcting lop ear (where the ear tip folds down and trends forward)
  • Changing the shape of ears that protrude too much from the head
  • Changing ears that are misshaped or deformed

4) Do you qualify for Otoplasty surgery?

Adult candidates – whether male or female – are able to have elective ear surgery. The procedure can also be performed on children as young as two years of age. Children with severely prominent ears typically have the procedure early in life, between the ages of two and five. In children with less obvious deformities, it is common to delay the decision until the child reaches seven to ten years of age so that they may participate in the decision making process.

It is important to note that children are not subject to any higher risks when undergoing this procedure than adults. In fact, firmer cartilage of fully developed adult ears does not provide the same moulding capacity as a child’s. Having the procedure at a young age when possible is highly desirable for two reasons:

  • The cartilage is extremely pliable, thereby permitting greater ease of shaping
  • The child will experience psychological benefits earlier from the cosmetic improvement

Ideal candidates for Otoplasty should demonstrate good physical and mental health. Smokers are encouraged to quit several weeks before the procedure to avoid slow healing and potential post-procedure problems. It is also recommended that drinking alcohol is kept to a minimum before and after surgery, in order to avoid complications during surgery and reduce recovery time.

Once a candidate’s suitability for Otoplasty has been determined, Dr. Zacharia will provide consultation to explain the proposed surgery and the variables that may affect the procedure.


5) How much does Otoplasty cost?

The cost of Otoplasty varies, depending on the patient and complexity of the procedure performed. The cost will be inclusive of fees for the professional, anaesthetic, hospital fees, and, if applicable, charges for an overnight stay.

Generally, any surgery performed purely cosmetic reasons will not be covered by health insurance. In some cases, wherein the procedure is deemed medically necessary – such as the correction of birth defects or damage resulting from trauma – cosmetic procedures may be covered. Patients are encouraged to speak directly to their health service provider to determine the specifics of their policy and confirm insurance coverage.

Book a consultation, request a quote online, or contact the staff at Dr. Zacharia’s rooms today on (02) 9192 1600.


6) How do I prepare for Otoplasty surgery?

During the initial consultation, Dr. Zacharia will discuss the procedure with the patient in detail; outlining possible risks and limitations, the financial costs involved, the patient’s expectations and goals, and the recovery process. He will also conduct a medical examination and assist in preparing the patient both physically and mentally for ear surgery.

Dr. Zacharia will then provide the patient with an easy-to-read information packet that explains all the required information to be aware of prior to undergoing ear surgery.


7) Anaesthesia procedure

Otoplasty is most often performed as a day procedure using either local or a light general anaesthesia. If the patient is an adult, general anaesthesia can be used upon request. When being performed on young children, general anaesthetic is used. Dr. Zacharia and his anaesthetist will assist each patient to make the decision regarding which type of anaesthesia is most suitable.


8) About the procedure

Typically, ear surgery takes one to two hours – approximately 45 minutes per ear.

Techniques employed will vary among physicians, and according to individual patients’ needs. Factors that may impact the choice of technique include the general anatomy of the ears, the extent of the ear cartilage, excessive skin in the surrounding area, or level of deformity in other areas of the ears.

The procedure itself is straight forward and minimally invasive, with incisions placed behind the ears so that there are no visible scars after the operation. Sutures are used to correct the shape of the ear and change the position of the ear relative to the head. Sometimes a piece of cartilage is removed. In patients who desire reduction in the size of the ear, sometimes an incision is placed on the front of the ear, just inside the rim, where the incision will not be visible.

There are two common Otoplasty techniques for prominent or protruding ears.

The specialist first determines the incision location by finding the most inconspicuous site on the back of the ear:

  • Once the incision is made, the exposed ear cartilage will be sculpted and re-positioned closer to the head for a more natural-looking appearance.
  • In the second common technique, skin is removed and the ear cartilage is folded back. There is no cartilage removed in this technique.

The professional may use non-removable stitches to help the cartilage maintain its position. Dissolvable or removable stitches can also be used for the incision location, which are removed or dissolve within seven days.

If some of the natural folds of the ear are missing, they will be created during the procedure. Missing or abnormal sections of the ear may be constructed or corrected using tissues taken from other parts of the ear or body.


9) What can I expect after surgery?

Patients may feel some discomfort immediately after surgery, which can generally be controlled with pain medication. Total recovery times vary by individual, but each patient will have a post-op appointment scheduled for approximately seven days after surgery.

After the procedure is completed, the patient will be admitted to recovery and monitored for several hours.


10) What are the risks and complications involved in Otoplasty surgery?

No surgery is risk free, and as with all procedures there are number of potential risks and complications to consider when undergoing ear surgery. Understanding those risks prior to having surgery is essential.

The likelihood that complications will occur during ear surgery or the recovery process is very small. This is not intended to be a complete list of possible complications, but rather an overview of the most common risks associated with this kind of surgery:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Haematoma
  • “Cauliflower ear”
  • Numbness
  • Scar tissue/Keloid formation
  • Asymmetry
  • Desired result is not achieved, meaning further surgery is required
  • Over-correction, under-correction or a poor aesthetic result

During the initial consultation, Dr. Zacharia will answer any questions and provide detailed information regarding all possible complications involved with the surgery.


11) How long is the recovery time after surgery?

Typically, recovery takes approximately two weeks. The patient will have to have bandages over the ears for several days after surgery. While the bandages are in place, it will not be possible for patients to wash their hair. After the removal of the bandages, a supportive loose headband is worn over the ears at night. This will help to take tension off of the ears. The headband should be worn loose to prevent the ears from being pulled forward when the patient moves in his/her sleep.

12) How long will I be off work/school?

Most patients are able to return to normal activity within three days after surgery. But special care must be given to children throughout the first three weeks of recovery to restrict them from playful activities that may disrupt the ears.

Regular activity and exercise can restart within two weeks. Doctors urge patients to avoid any activities that could cause trauma or injury to the ears during the recovery period.


13) Will I have visible scars after Otoplasty surgery?

Any time an incision is made in the skin, scarring will form during the healing process. Successful incision healing is dependent on several factors, including:

  • Surgical technique
  • Prevention of infection
  • Reduction of tension
  • Patient nutrition
  • Avoiding smoking (both before or after surgery)

Dr. Zacharia will make every effort to make the scars as inconspicuous as possible. Due to the nature of the procedure, Otoplasty incisions are generally concealed behind the ear. Scars may remain red or raised for three months – if this is bothersome, it is suggested that patients style their hair to conceal the backside of the ear during this time to make the incision nearly invisible. Typically after three months, any scarring resulting from the ear incisions are soft and supple, appearing like a natural ear crease.


14) When will I see the final results?

Final ear surgery results are usually seen up to two months after the procedure has been performed. It typically takes three months for the incision to heal.

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