Ear Surgery in Milwaukee, WI
Our ears rarely attract attention when normal in size and relationship to our other facial features. However, large, protruding, or misshapen ears can detract from facial appearance. Children with prominent or deformed ears may suffer the ridicule of peers and a resulting lack of self confidence.
If protruding or disfigured ears bother you or your child, you should consider plastic surgery of the ear to improve the position, shape, or proportion of the ear. Surgery of the ear can correct a defect in the ear structure that is present at birth, a defect that becomes apparent with development, or it can treat misshapen ears caused by injury. The most common structures involved in protruding or deformed ears include three formations of cartilage: the curvature of the outer rim to earlobe (helical lobular complex), the antihelical fold or curve just inside the helical rim, and the conchal bowl complex or inner shell. Ear surgery is focused on creating a natural shape, and will bring balance and proportion to the ears and face. Correction of even minor deformities can have profound benefits on facial appearance and self esteem.
Plastic surgery of the ears is most commonly performed to correct the position of ears that are too prominent and protrude from the sides of the head. Such protrusion makes the ears appear to be larger than normal. Protruding ears may occur on one or both sides in varying degrees and are not associated with hearing loss. Even when only ear appears to protrude, ear surgery may be performed on both ears to achieve a more balanced result. Ear surgery is widely performed with a good record of safety and patient satisfaction.
There are less common ear deformities that can affect one ear or both, and may or may not affect hearing ability. The constricted ear (labra cup ear) has varying degrees of protrusion, reduced ear circumference, folding or flattening of the upper helical rim, and lowered ear position. The Stahl’s ear is distorted in shape due to an abnormal position of the superior crus, and the presence of an extra (third) crus to the antihelix. With a “hidden ear” (cryptotia) the upper rim of the ear is buried beneath a fold of scalp because of abnormal folding of the upper ear cartilage toward the head; this folding is the reverse of that commonly seen in the protruding ear. Overly large ears are a rare condition called macrotia.
Microtia is the most complex congenital ear deformity. The outer ear appears either as a sausage-shaped structure resembling little more than the ear lobe, or it may have more recognizable features of the normal ear. In microtia there may or may not be an absence of the external auditory or hearing canal, and hearing is impaired to varying degrees. Reconstruction of microtia requires several staged surgical procedures to create a more normal external ear shape. These surgeries may be followed by surgery to improve hearing as well.
Surgery for constricted ear or other deformities may use similar techniques as correction for protruding ears, in addition to other methods. These more complex techniques often utilize conchal cartilage that would otherwise be discarded, as a graft to support and shape the restructured ear. Treatment of microtia involves an individualized surgical plan that may require multiple procedures to achieve desired results. Ear reconstruction may be combined with other surgery to improve hearing. Where cartilage is badly misshapen or absent, reconstruction may require cartilage grafts; these are typically taken from the existing ear structure or the patient’s ribs.
The outcome of surgery to correct protruding ears is present almost immediately, children accept their improved appearance quite quickly and a positive change in self esteem can rapidly develop. It may take several months for swelling to completely subside and incision lines to refine and fade. During this time, proper skin care and diligent sun protection are essential. In addition, the ears should be protected from extreme cold or injury. The results of more extensive ear surgery and reconstruction may appear in phases and feelings of fulfillment will increase as the ears assume their new shape.
If you would like to schedule a consult to discuss whether otoplasty is right for you or your child please call our office at 414-443-0033.
Post Operative Instructions and Information for Otoplasty
- Depending on the age and individual needs of the patient, the procedure is performed either under IV sedation with local injections, or under general anesthesia as an outpatient. A compressive head dressing will be placed after surgery.
- After the initial dressing has been removed, you will be instructed to wear a head band 24 hours a day for one to two weeks. Afterward, you will need to wear the head band only at night for several more weeks. This head band should cover the ears to provide gentle compression.
- It is helpful to keep your head elevated for the first two weeks; this will allow swelling to resolve more quickly. It is also important to avoid sleeping on the side(s) where surgery was performed for 2-3 weeks following surgery.
- Swelling, bruising and tenderness will resolve over 2-3 weeks. Incisions are hidden behind the ears, and sutures will dissolve in 7-14 days. Your doctor will instruct you when to gently wash behind the ears with a washcloth to keep the incision lines clean and to help the sutures release; the majority of the sutures are dissolvable.
- It is suggested that patients remain off work or out of school for one week after surgery.
- You will be restricted from all strenuous activities for 1-2 weeks after surgery. Your doctor will instruct you when to begin a gradual return to activities.
- Your doctor will ask you to return to our office at approximately 2 weeks and 3 months post-op, to follow your progress and answer any questions you may have.
- Lubrication and massage of the scar lines can begin 3 weeks following surgery. Scars will soften and flatten over several months.
- Plan on remaining off work for sevral days to a week after surgery.