Ear lobe surgery, or otoplasty, is a relatively unknown, but common surgical procedure to change the shape, proportion or size of the ear. It also can correct birth defects and repair ears that are damaged from wearing heavy earrings, or ears that have been torn, pulled or snagged by earrings.
Ear surgery can recreate the natural shape of the ear which will bring balance and portion of the facial features. It can correct protruding earlobes and is often used to treat a rare condition called macrotia, or overly large ears. It can also correct lop ear, where the ear tip folds down and bends forward and shell ear, in which parts of the ear are missing or deformed.
Most insurance plans will not cover this surgery if it is being performed strictly for cosmetic purposes. Some companies may cover part of the surgery, or in some cases, the entire procedure if it is a congenital defect or the result of trauma. You should check with your insurance company to see if you are eligible for coverage.
What to discuss at your initial consultation
During your first meeting with your plastic surgeon, you will want to discuss your desired results. Your doctor will ask you about your medical history including any illnesses, previous surgeries, past and present medical condition, allergies and what medications you are currently taking. The doctor will then assess if you are a good candidate for ear surgery and discuss your options.
How is the surgery performed?
The surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia for children and local for adults and usually takes between one to two hours. The doctor will make a small incision just behind the ear in the fold where the ear is connected to the head. They will then remove the skin and cartilage needed to get the desired effect. In some instances, they will trim and shape the cartilage into the desired form and then pin it back with permanent sutures to ensure that it remains securely attached. The surgery will not have any effect on hearing.
After the surgery, the doctor will apply a soft dressing to the ears which must remain in place for a few days. You may experience some minor pain or discomfort. Sleeping might be a challenge if you are used to sleeping on your side until recovery. Your doctor may recommend using a headband to hold the ears in place for about two weeks after the surgery.
About a week following your surgery, you will have your stitches removed by your surgeon and he will asses your progress. If you are healing properly you may return to work or light activity at this time.
There are little to no risks with this earlobe surgery but there are rare instances of infection, recurrence of the original issue or poor healing. There will be a very thin white scar that may remain. If you experience any visual issues after your surgery, you should seek immediate medical attention. You should also contact your surgeon if you experience severe pain, excessive bleeding, a fever over 101 degrees or persistent swelling or redness after two weeks.