If you’re considering a otoplasty…
This operation is done to correct protruding ears. It is one of the few cosmetic operations performed on children. Although the operation is done on both men and women, it has great appeal for men, because many of them wear their hair short and cannot conceal the ear deformity.
Method: The method of surgery is to weaken the cartilage of the ear so that it bends into its new shape. At the same time stitches are placed in the cartilage to hold the ear in position until the new shape has formed. The incision is placed in the natural creases behind the ear. The operation is done under either local anesthetic (you are awake) or general anesthetic (you are asleep) You can choose. Most of the time this is an outpatient operation and a stay in the hospital is not needed.
Problems: All operations have some risk. The risks of surgery are divided into two groups. First those that are seen in all operations and second those that are unique or special for this operation. In the first group, the main risks are swelling, bruising, bleeding, infection, a scar and numbness or change in feeling. The main problems which are special for this operation are an abnormal reaction to the stitches and recurrence of the problem.
Postoperative care: The recovery takes one to two weeks. Most people are back to work within a week or two. It takes many months before the final result is seen.
A non-surgical method of treatment for protruding ears does exist. However it is only of use in the first few weeks of life. Unfortunately, at this stage many parents are not concerned about the position and appearance of their infant’s ears. However if a family member, nurse or doctor recognizes the problem and a plastic surgeon is called it may be possible to splint the ear and reshape it. In this way an otoplasty later in life may be avoided.
Immediately after birth the cartilage of the birth is very soft. There are many suggested reasons for this. Some doctors feel that the hormone, relaxin, which helps to loosen the mother’s pelvic cartilage and aid delivery, also softens the baby’s ear cartilage. Estrogen is also felt to soften facial and skull cartilage and aid the passage of the fetus.
Ear cartilage is made of cells called chondrocytes with fluid between the cells, called intercellular material. This intercellular material is a mixture of chemicals, including collagen and elastin. When the baby is born the intercellular materials are surrounded and separated by a large amount of hyaluronic acid. This accounts for the lack of elasticity.