Prominent ear surgery (otoplasty) is performed on both children and adults. Children usually having the procedure around 5-7 years of age. Whilst every ear is different, there are specific features of a normal appearing ear with respect to position, size and shape that can sometimes be achieved by surgery.
Results can be dramatic and highly satisfying to the patient.
An otoplasty involves an incision behind the ear to gain access to the cartilage. The cartilage is both reshaped and contoured with the ear being suspended in a more aesthetically pleasing position.
The procedure is usually performed under general anaesthetic as a day case in an accredited hospital. Children are more comfortable staying a night in hospital but can go home on the same day if they like.
Following surgery a bulky bandage will be placed over the ears to protect them for 5-10 days. Patients can usually return to work or school once the bandage has been removed. After this period, the patient is encouraged to wear a tennis headband to bed for another 2 weeks to protect the newly reshaped cartilage.
The final shape and contour of the ears becomes evident after about four weeks at which time contact sports and activities that may bend the ears can usually be resumed.
What are the potential risks and complications?
Ear Surgery, as with all modern surgeries, is generally safe, but there is a potential for complications and risks. Before your surgery I will discuss with you all of the potential risks including:
- Allergic or hypersensitive reaction to the antiseptic, dressings or medications
- Immediately following your surgery you may experience short-term nausea and vomiting due to the anaesthesia
- If you are a smoker or have diabetes, you may experience slow healing
- You may have a sore throat as a result of the breathing tube that will be used during the general anaesthesic
- Bruising, swelling and pain may occur around the incision site
- An infection may arise that requires an antibiotic treatment and in some cases, additional surgery may be required
- You may develop keloid or hypertrophic scars which are raised and thickened scars. This type of scarring may be unsightly, annoying and itchy, however, they are not threatening to your health and rare if you have no family history of the condition.
- A large blood clot that requires drainage may form under the site of the incision, if this occurs it the clot will need to be evacuated in the operating theatre immediately
- Ears may become asymmetrical and require additional surgery to repair cartilage irregularities or to correct problems with symmetry.
- One or both ears may have re-protrusion, which may require additional surgery
- Ear cartilage has a small overlaying area of skin which may die and result in an ulcer forming. The ulcer may require several weeks for healing.
- There may be a permanent or temporary loss of sensation in the skin area of the incision site and/or the back of the ear surface
Corrective surgery to the ear is a reconstructive procedure and is be covered by private health insurance. You will need to review your policy carefully to determine what is covered.
Costs associated with a corrective ear surgery varies between: $5000-$9000 depending on a number of factors:
- Anaesthetist’s fee
- Private hospital or day surgical facility fees
- Your level of private insurance cover
- Surgical assistant’s fee
After our consultation my staff will give you an itemised account of the total cost.