Orange County Otoplasty Specialist Ear Enhancement Surgery – Dr. Amy Bandy Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Surgery to correct protruding ears may be considered either reconstructive or cosmetic. To determine this, we must consider the function of the external ear. There are two main purposes of the external ear. The first is to help direct sound waves to the external auditory canal, thereby improving our ability to hear. Another important function of a highly visible body part such as the ear is to fall into the normal range of appearance. Ears that protrude straight out from the head do so because of abnormalities in the development of the cartilage of the ear. Such irregularities often attract unwanted attention, and children can often suffer criticism from their peers and be made the center of attention of cruel jokes and name-calling. Although some people overcome denigrating remarks and attitudes, there are more people who fade quickly into the background and hide from the attention. The degree of the deformity can range from mild to severe. The deciding factor on when a child warrants reconstructive surgery to correct their ears, is when their protruding ears are the first things that people notice when they initially meet the child.
Our awareness of body image regarding our facial features is usually evident by the age of five. This is exactly when children are starting school and making new friends and establishing how they fit into the world around them. If children begin name-calling, this can negatively affect the important self-image that the child is building of himself. The ear has completed 85 percent of its growth by the age of three. There is very little growth of the ear after age 10. Correction of the protruding ear is generally carried out from age 4 onward, depending on when the patient presents for surgery. More adults are opting to correct protruding ears for cosmetic reasons and the results can be quite gratifying, allowing for more of a variety of hairstyles than they previously felt comfortable with. There are a number of factors in the development of the ear cartilage that affect the shape of the ear. In the majority of cases, there is a combination of too much cartilage in the central “bowl” area called the concha, combined with a lack of natural folds that develop in the area called the antihelix. There are other deformities of the ear that range from complete absence of the external ear to “cupping”or constricted ears. These are deformities that are addressed differently than the protruding ear. There are a variety of surgical techniques that address the protruding ear, and the appropriate procedure will depend on the degree of excess cartilage, the failure of antihelical folding and which of these two problems dominates the defect. THE CONSULTATION During your initial consultation with Dr. Bandy, your specific requests and desires are discussed and an individual examination is performed to determine the appropriate surgical procedure to be performed. Dr. Bandy will make recommendations and discuss your individual procedure and expected outcome in detail. This is your chance to ask questions, and verify if the procedure is right for you or your child. THE OPERATION Most otoplasties are performed on an outpatient basis, coming to the surgical facility the day of surgery and returning home the same day. Young children will require a general anesthetic and some older patients may prefer this as well. The incision for the surgery is generally hidden behind the ear or in the folds of the ear. The procedure is aimed at recontouring the cartilage to the normal configuration and this is attained by removing excess cartilage in some cases, and by placing permanent buried suture to fold the ear framework in other cases. It may be necessary to wear an elastic headband for a period of time after the procedure to allow healing. As with any surgical procedure, there are possible complications, and although rare, these will be discussed with you in detail at the time of your initial consultation.