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Facial cosmetic surgery ~ Nelson, New Zealand


Prominent Ears ~ Corrective Ear Surgery [Otoplasty]

Cosmetic surgery on the ears is usually done to set prominent ears back closer to the head or to reduce the size of large ears. Most people look to surgery because they have been teased or ridiculed about their ears as a child, and are self-conscious of their appearance as a result.

How Old Do You Have To Be To Get Your Ears "Pinned" Back?

Ears are almost fully grown by the age of five, so the surgery is usually performed from about 5 to 7 years of age, before children are really too aware of the differences between them and their peers. Statistically most ear surgery candidates are children, from the age of 4 to 19.

A proportion of patients coming to our Nelson clinic for otoplasty are adults. Many have endured years of embarrassment and teasing as a child and continue to be unhappy about the appearance of their ears as an adult. Surgical techniques in adults are identical to children and similarly gratifying results are achieved.

Surgical Technique

Surgery is typically performed as a day case in hospital under a general anaesthetic. An ellipse of skin removed from the groove behind the ear to correct for the excess skin that will be present once the ear is “pinned” back. The technique applied varies according to the problem that requires correction but ususally the cartilage is delicately scored to allow it to curve back and stitches are used to help maintain the new shape. Occasionally, a small amount of cartilage may be removed from behind the ear to allow the ear to sit in a more natural position.

The aim is again, to provide a natural look, so that the gaze is not drawn to the ears, but can rest where it usually does, on the eyes.

Recovery Period After Corrective Cosmetic Ear Surgery

Following surgery a gentle pressure bandage is applied to the head. It can be removed the following day, but sometimes it is easier to leave in it place in younger children. This does help to maintain the position of the ear in the immediate postoperative period but is mainly used to prevent the accumulation of blood (haematoma) in the wound. Following removal of the bandage by the surgeon, patients will note an immediate improvement in the position of their ears. The ears may look a little "swept-back", however there is always some 'relaxing' of the skin and sutures so the ears will come out slightly, to a more natural position. Some swelling is always evident but is largely resolved within 7-10 days. We advise otoplasty patients to wear an athletic headband for a further 4-6 weeks following surgery to avoid displacement of the ear when moving around in their sleep.

Most adults can go back to work about five days after surgery. Children can go back to school after seven days or so, if they're careful about playground activity. The surgery can be organised during school holidays for convenience.

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