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Houston Cranio Facial

Prominent Ear Deformity and Otoplasty

A common condition, prominent ear deformity and other ear disorders can be the cause of self-esteem issues and other concerns for individuals of all ages. Our experienced craniofacial plastic surgeon, Dr. Eric Payne, can help correct a wide range of ear problems in both children and adults. Using the latest techniques, he can modify the prominence and shape of the ear for a more aesthetically appealing outcome.

For more information about ear deformities and treatment options, or to schedule a consultation, please contact our friendly and knowledgeable medical team today.

What is otoplasty?

Otoplasty is a form of ear surgery in which the ears can be resized, reshaped, and made less prominent through a number of advanced techniques. Most people think of the surgery as pinning the ears back. Typically surgery is done after five years of age or older, when the majority of ear growth has occurred. And it’s worth noting that teens and adults can also have this operation performed if they feel their ears are a source of discomfort or self-consciousness.

What is prominent ear deformity?

A prominent ear is one that is positioned much farther away from the side of the head than what would be considered normal. Typically for this condition, the ear will have a greater than 20 mm protrusion at the upper portion of the ear from the scalp. In newborn infants this is noted to be greater than 9 mm. Many types of ear deformities can cause a prominent ear, including an enlarged conchal bowl and/or loss of the antihelical fold. A constricted ear deformity or cup ear deformity also fits into the category of a prominent ear deformity.

How often does prominent ear deformity occur?

Prominent ear deformity occurs in one in twenty children. Prominent ear deformity is the most common congenital deformity in children.

What are the benefits of otoplasty?

Otoplasty can be used to address a range of concerns related to the ears. The most common issue is prominence—when the ears protrude from the sides of the head at a greater angle than desired. Otoplasty can also modify the size, shape, and symmetry of the ears. Other benefits of this procedure include:

  • Minimal downtime
  • Minimal discomfort
  • Enhanced confidence and self-esteem with regard to appearance
  • Natural-looking results

Who is a good candidate for otoplasty?

There are no physical health concerns for prominent ear deformity. However, peer interaction and teasing are legitimate reasons to correct prominent ear deformity. The psychological effects of a deformed ear can cause multiple problems at home or school. A child affected can experience multiple issues such as bedwetting, poor performance in school, withdrawal from daily activities, bullying at school and fighting, and growing long hair to cover the ears. When psychological and social interactions are affected in a developing child, addressing the ear deformity can help. This can be done through a procedure known as otoplasty.

What is involved in the otoplasty procedure?

An otoplasty procedure involves lifting the skin off of the ear. The ear cartilage is then reshaped into a less prominent shape. This is accomplished by placing sutures and cutting the cartilage from behind the ear to achieve a more desirable appearance. Dr. Payne will use local and/or general anesthesia, but he only performs the surgery in an operating room or hospital setting for the best possible outcome. Dr. Payne will discuss the approach that best suits your needs and goals during your initial consultation. There are several techniques available to adjust the angle of the ears, including double-incision otoplasty, single-incision otoplasty, and no-incision otoplasty (in rare cases). The details of your treatment plan will be discussed during your first meeting, and we welcome any questions or concerns you may have.

What is otoplasty recovery like?

Most patients report little discomfort after the procedure, and we can provide some (age-appropriate) pain medication to help enhance your or your child’s experience. Most teens and adults can return to their normal schedule after a few days to a week. Children usually take a bit longer, a week or two, and should be monitored during activities to ensure rough play or an accident doesn’t affect the results. Both children and adults should avoid strenuous exercise for about three to four weeks. After the procedure, a bandage will be placed over the ears, and a headband should be worn for a short period once the bandages are removed. The incisions behind the ear should heal well and be relatively unnoticeable over time.

How much does otoplasty cost?

The cost typically involves a surgeon’s fee, anesthesia fee, and facility fee. Dr. Payne does not perform otoplasty ear procedures under local anesthetic in an office setting, as this can increase the risk of a poor result and infection.

Dr. Payne has worked with all types of ear deformities and not just prominent ears. He treats even the highly complex ear deformities that most plastic surgeons do not feel are easy to correct, such as constricted ear deformity, Stahl’s ear deformity, and lidding ear deformity. With his background in craniofacial surgery, he is able to address these deformities with added expertise and experience.

More Information About Otoplasty

We have provided some additional information about ear surgery to help you make the best decision for your needs and goals. If you have questions not answered here, please contact our office to schedule a consultation.

Does ear surgery hurt?

Dr. Payne takes great care to make you or your child’s experience as comfortable as possible. The procedure itself does lead to some soreness post-operatively. The discomfort will typically resolve in the first week. Typically the pain from otoplasty ear surgery is minimal and controlled with over-the-counter Tylenol® or Motrin®. We can recommend some suggestions to manage any pain during your initial consultation.

Can you repair a split or torn earlobe?

If your earlobe is torn, stretched, or damaged due to piercings or an injury, Dr. Payne can often repair or improve the appearance of these concerns. The approach may vary depending on whether the issue is a new tear or accident or an old piercing or wound. Dr. Payne will make an effort to close the wound, reposition or redistribute the tissue, and reshape the ear to create a more natural-looking result.

Do you treat ear deformities in children?

Dr. Payne has extensive training and experience treating a wide range of ear deformities in children, including prominent ears and other conditions. You can learn more about his techniques for incision free or non-surgical correction of ear deformities on our sister site.

Can you reduce the size of the ears?

Ears that are overly large, but not prominent or protruding, may be reduced in size by modifying or removing cartilage through an incision made in the back of the ear, where it meets the head; however, this technique may affect the shape of the ears. Dr. Payne can evaluate your concerns and help you determine which approach can provide the result you’re seeking.

We understand if you have additional questions, and we’re here to help. Contact our practice today to learn more or to schedule a consultation with our physician.