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Protruding ears can be a cause of teasing for a child, or a problem for an adult. At about seven years of age children start to look closely at themselves and others. They begin to notice differences and can be particularly unkind to those with protruding ears, referring to them with names such as ” Dumbo.” Otoplasty offers children relief from taunts by their peers, and feeling self-conscious about the size of their ears. Similarly, it frees adults from the daily rituals they are forced to undergo in an effort to camouflage their problem.

The goal of most otoplasty procedures is to place the ears closer to the side of the head so that they do not appear to stick out. Otoplasty can be performed at any age, although for reasons of safety and involving the child in the decision process, seven years of age or older is a preferred time in life to undergo the procedure.

About the Procedure

Surgery begins with an incision behind the ear. Through this incision the plastic surgeon sculpts the ear cartilage to achieve the desired result. The surgeon relaxes and repositions the cartilage so that it lies closer to the side of the head and secures this new position with permanent sutures. Surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia.

Recovery and Healing

Soft dressings applied to the ears will remain in place for a few days. If you are accustomed to sleeping on your side, your sleep pattern may be temporarily disrupted. Headbands are sometimes recommended for two to four weeks after the surgery to hold the ears in the desired position and to keep you from displacing them while you sleep.

Risks

Though all surgery carries with it the risk of bleeding or infection, the greatest risk in otoplasty is that the ear will not be corrected enough or, in some instances, over-corrected. This would require additional procedures.