Approximately 1 in 500 children are born with congenital deformities of the external ear. This is an inherited trait but may not always be present in the parents or siblings of the affected child. The severity of the deformity is also quite variable and ranges from mild to severe to complete absence of the external ear. Unfortunately, because of the shape of the ears children are many times the victims of harsh teasing, especially by their peers at school. The psychological improvement for the child and the relief of emotional burden for all parties makes correction of the protruding ear tremendously rewarding.
Otoplasty is the name given to the procedure used to reposition and alter the shape of the external ear.The operation is usually performed prior to beginning elementary school, before age 6, to avoid classroom teasing.
The procedure is done on an outpatient basis. A general anesthetic is given to young children while a local anesthesia and a touch of sedation are used in the adult. Post-operative discomfort is quite minimal and easily controlled with oral medication.
Incisions heal into thin white lines and are conveniently concealed behind the ears. A headdress is worn for one week while healing is most critical followed by a headband for the next two.
Overall, otoplasty is a tremendously powerful operation used to reposition the ears and to restore “normalcy” and prevent the cruel and unwarranted teasing by others.