Although the ears are not the most centrally located feature, they can still have a significant effect on a person’s appearance and confidence if they are not proportional to the rest of the face. In particular, ears that are too large or that stick out too far from the head are common concerns. These problems can be frustrating, causing a person to feel as though their ears are detracting from their appearance or unbalancing the rest of their facial features. In turn, their ears can limit the hairstyles, jewelry or headwear they feel comfortable in, and can impact their self-confidence and their lifestyle. In addition, children often struggle with concerns about ear size and shape, and they may experience teasing from their peers that results in persistent self-esteem issues.
The most direct and effective way for people of all ages to address cosmetic concerns about the ears is through a specialized plastic surgery called otoplasty (ear surgery). Otoplasty is a surgical procedure in which prominent ears are set back closer to the head and/or large ears are reduced in size. Ear surgery is a highly targeted procedure that only addresses large or protruding ears — if you struggle with these specific concerns and are otherwise healthy and happy with your appearance, you may be a good candidate for otoplasty. The procedure is most often performed on children between the ages of four and fourteen, but otoplasty can also be an option for teens and adults of all ages.
The expert team at The Williams Center provides cosmetic ear surgery in Albany, New York with exceptional results for patients of all ages. We can work with you or your child to reshape the ears for a balanced, natural appearance, restoring self-confidence and sparing younger patients from the effects of teasing. Find out more about otoplasty at The Williams Center by scheduling a consultation today.
Request a Consultation
Contact us now to request a consultation for your otoplasty in the New York area. You can reach the Williams Center for Plastic Surgery online or by phone at (518) 513-0858.
The Otoplasty Procedure
Ear surgery focuses on the visible outer “shell” the ear, sometimes called the auricle or pinna. The auricle includes the outer curve of the ear (the helix) and everything within it, as well as the earlobe. Otoplasty most often addresses the upper auricle, particularly when it bends away from the head to cause ears that stick out. However, every otoplasty is different and customized to the patient’s needs. Depending on the particular concerns that need to be addressed, the surgery may include any combination of:
- “Pinning back” prominent ears
- Reshaping or resizing the auricle via cartilage removal
- Correction of asymmetries in the auricles or earlobes
- Correction of enlarged or elongated earlobes
We advise our patients that otoplasty does have its limitations. We cannot recreate a particular type or shape of ear that you prefer, and we cannot ensure that your reshaped ears are perfectly symmetrical. Rather, our surgeons approach ear surgery with an artistic eye. We focus on creating ears that complement and balance each patient’s facial features, restoring visual symmetry to the face for a more pleasing appearance.
The Ideal Otoplasty Candidate
Ear surgery is a relatively simple procedure that comes with few risks compared to more intensive cosmetic surgeries. The ear is composed of easily manipulable cartilage, and otoplasty does not require close contact with key nerves or blood vessels. It is a viable option for patients of many ages, lifestyles and skin types. We do recommend that patients be in good overall health and stop smoking before surgery to prevent possible complications from anesthesia or excessive bleeding.
Otoplasty is most commonly performed on children, particularly if the child’s ears are large enough to draw negative attention from their peers. At The Williams Center, we have significant experience performing otoplasty on young patients ages four and older. The minimum age of four gives children’s ears enough time to develop but also prevents the bulk of any teasing they may experience when they begin full-time schooling. If you are concerned about your child’s ears, we recommend bringing them to us for a consultation as soon as you feel comfortable. Children and teens heal quickly from this procedure and benefit greatly from the results.
Adult ear surgery is less common but can still make a big difference in an individual’s life. Whether you have experienced damage to your ears from large or heavy jewelry or you have had a lifelong wish to change the shape of your ears, otoplasty at The Williams Center can resolve your concerns and help you feel more confident in shorter hair cuts, updos, headbands or hats.
The best way to find out if otoplasty is right for you is to schedule your consultation with one of the board-certified facial plastic surgeons at The Williams Center. Call us to make your appointment today at (518) 513-0858, or contact us online.
The Otoplasty Surgical Process
Otoplasty in Albany with The Williams Center is most often performed as an outpatient procedure. Depending on the patient’s needs and age, the surgery may take place at our outpatient surgical center or a local hospital. General anesthesia is commonly used for children undergoing otoplasty, while local anesthesia combined with sedation is recommended for older children and adults. The surgery is typically completed within two hours, after which a designated responsible adult will need to transport the patient home to begin recovery.
There are several different techniques for otoplasty. Two approaches are most common: otoplasty with and without cartilage removal. Your surgeon will determine which one is best for you, most often based on whether the ear needs resizing (with cartilage removal) or whether the patient only requires pinning back (without cartilage removal).
Otoplasty With Cartilage Removal
With this technique, an incision is made on the back of the ear, along the upper portion of the auricle and hidden in the area where the ear meets the side of the head. The exposed cartilage can then be sculpted to the desired shape and size, and bent back toward the head. The incision is sutured closed with non-removable stitches, which keeps the ear at its new, flatter angle. A larger piece of cartilage may be removed in some cases to create a more natural-looking fold below the helix.
Otoplasty Without Cartilage Removal
In cases where ear reshaping or resizing of the auricle is not needed, your surgeon excises skin rather than cartilage to achieve the “pinned back” result. Your surgeon will use a similar incision at the back of the ear, then trims away some of the skin. When the incision is sutured closed, the skin lies taut over the cartilage and holds the ear back in its new position.
In both types of cosmetic ear surgery, the incisions are small and located on the back of the ear. This results in a minimally visible, well-concealed scar that most often heals flat and without discoloration. Patients enjoy a very natural appearance with ears that better complement their facial structure and help create a more symmetrical, balanced look.
Risks & Recovery from Otoplasty
Despite being a simple procedure, otoplasty does come with some risks including adverse anesthesia reactions, infection, unwanted scarring, asymmetrical healing and loss of skin sensation in the auricle. At The Williams Center, we work closely with each patient before their surgery and during their recovery to ensure that risks are kept to a minimum, to monitor their healing and to address any possible complications as soon as possible. We provide our patients with thorough aftercare instructions, see patients regularly for follow-up appointments and are always available to address any concerns that arise.
Once the otoplasty procedure is complete and anesthesia has worn off, patients can return home in the care of a designated adult friend or family member. Most patients are up and moving around within a few hours after the procedure, though some temporary throbbing, aching, swelling, redness and numbness can occur. In addition, a bandage will be used to wrap the patient’s head post-op. This bandage can appear bulky, and most patients prefer to stay out of the public eye until it is removed — this typically happens a few days later at the patient’s first follow-up appointment, where the bandage is replaced with a lighter wound dressing.
Pain medication can help relieve any discomfort that patients experience in the first few days after the procedure. Stitches may be removed, or non-removable stitches will dissolve on their own in about a week. Most patients can return to work or school within five to seven days. Strenuous activities, contact sports and any activities which may bend or bump the ear will need to be avoided for one to two months. Patients should avoid wearing hats, helmets or headwear that could bend the ear out of position while it is healing.
A small percentage of patients may experience a recurrence of ear protrusion, but the results of otoplasty are usually life-long.* At The Williams Center, our otoplasty patients of all ages report feeling better about themselves and their appearance as a result of this surgery — to our expert surgeons, this procedure is a perfect example of how a small procedure can make a big change in a patient’s life and outlook. We would be happy to work with you to determine if otoplasty is right for you, and we will guide you through the process of ear surgery with your safety and satisfaction as our priority.
To request a consultation for cosmetic ear surgery in the New York area, contact the Williams Center for Plastic Surgery online or by phone at (518) 205-0286.