Home/Face/Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)

Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)

What is an otoplasty?

An otoplasty is an operation to correct a deformity of the ears. Most commonly, this deformity takes the form of ears that stick out too far from the side of the head and is a family trait. Often the fold of the ear is underdeveloped or has completely failed to develop. In this instance, the operation involves taking a small amount of skin from behind the ear and then making cuts in the cartilage to weaken it and create a new fold. The other common problem is when the ear has a very large conchal bowl (the cup-shaped area near the ear opening). Sometimes the operation involves reduction of this.

Our plastic surgeon—Dr Craig Layt—typically performs the operation as a day case. In children it is best performed under general anaesthetic. In adults it can be performed under a general anaesthesia however if specifically requested it can be performed under local anaesthesia with sedation. The operation attracts an item number from Medicare and therefore some of the costs will be borne by Medicare and your Private Health Fund.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified practitioner.

Who is a candidate?

People who have ears that stick out too far from the side of the head or whose ears have an unusual or undesirable shape are candidates for otoplasty. Children need to be old enough to understand the need to keep their bandages in place. A child older than 4-5 years of age is generally suitable depending on their maturity.

The aim is to produce ears that have normal folds and shape with the normal protrusion from the side of the head.

Ear Surgery Photos

These before and after photos are of patients that have had surgery performed by Dr Layt. These patients have consented to the photos being shown. These are actual photos and have not been altered or digitally enhanced. Every patient is an individual and therefore final surgical results will vary from patient to patient.

bna-sample Before
bna-sample After

What can you expect after the operation?

The ears will be bandaged in a turban-like fashion, which must remain in place for 10 days. It is not a particularly painful operation. Discomfort is usually controlled with oral medications. Children will occasionally vomit the evening after the procedure. This is a response to having their ears operated on. Generally, after 2 to 3 days there is very little discomfort.

An appointment will be made for the bandages to be removed at about a week to 10 days and you may then wash your hair. The ears will be a little swollen, red and bruised but this will settle rapidly. It is best to wear a headband at night for one month whilst healing continues to avoid bending the ears forward at night and affecting the final result. Contact sports should be avoided during this time.

What are the potential risks?

Modern surgery is safe. There is, however, no such thing as ‘risk free’ surgery. The important thing is to understand any potential risks and minimise their occurrence. You will be fully briefed on pre and post-operative procedures to assist you with the best possible facial surgery experience, recovery phase and final outcome.

Specific Pre-Operative Instructions

WASHING:  Wash the evening prior to surgery and the day of surgery paying particular attention to the ear region and hair. The area behind the ears should be carefully washed. This decreases the bacterial count and should decrease the risks of infection.

PRODUCTS:  Do not apply moisturisers, make-up, perfume/deodorant, nail polish or hair products after washing. Remove all jewellery.

CLOTHING:  Wear loose, comfortable clothing and footwear. A shirt with a button or zipper opening is ideal for removal.

HEADBAND:  You will be required to wear a headband for 4-6 weeks post-operatively while you sleep. This will be supplied in your post operative pack.

HAIR:  If you have long hair it should be tied up in a pony tail on top of the head using a simple elastic band. This will keep it out of the way during surgery and make dressings easier to apply.

FASTING:  You should have nothing to eat or drink for 6 hours before your operation. If you are required to take medication during this time please speak with your physician to check if this can be taken before the 6 hour fasting period or after your procedure.

SMOKING:  Smoking increases the risks of complications significantly and should be ceased 6-8 weeks prior to surgery.

MEDICATION:  If you are having the operation as a day case, you will be given a script for antibiotics and pain relief tablets that you will need to purchase from the chemist and bring with you on the day of your procedure. Do not take these prior to surgery. The nursing staff will advise you and your carer after your procedure on how to administer them.

Certain over the counter products and prescription medicines can cause complications before and after surgery. They can reduce the ability of your blood to clot and could increase your tendency to bleed during and after surgery. Do not take any medication containing or related to aspirin 2 weeks prior to your procedure. This includes NSAID’S, anti-Inflammatory medications, blood thinning medication.  Please see your doctor regarding if and when to cease medication. *This is not an all inclusive list*.

Also avoid Vitamin E supplements and red wine. Stop all herbal medications before surgery. The most common herbs used are Echinacea, Ephedra, Garlic, Ginseng, Ginkogo, Kava, St. John’s Wort, and Valerian. They may adversely effect anesthetic drugs, prolong bleeding and impair healing after surgery. Please consult your physician before ceasing any medication.

ADMINISTRATION:  Unfortunately, paperwork is a necessary evil. Each theatre complex has its own procedures. We have attempted to make it all easy by providing a simple series of steps to follow titled “THINGS TO DO FOR YOUR PROCEDURE” specific to the surgery centre you are attending. Please follow these instructions. If you have any queries about this or anything else don’t hesitate to contact us on 55974100.

Specific Post-Operative Instructions

POSITION:  Elevate your head to decrease the swelling. Try to sleep on your back if possible.

DRESSINGS:  Do not remove the dressings. If they appear to be falling off or become loose contact our clinic. Once the dressings are removed on day 7 – 10, avoid pulling on the stitches or bending the ear forward.

HEADBAND:  Wear the headband over the ears when sleeping for 4 – 6 weeks after surgery. This will be supplied in your post-operative pack.

TED STOCKINGS:  You may be required to wear TED stockings for compression to prevent DVT (blood clotting) post-operatively. If required these will be fitted at the hospital on your admission day. The nursing staff will advise you on how long you need to wear these for.

MEDICATION:  Take your pain relief and antibiotic medication as directed. Any medication you ceased prior to surgery must not be taken after your surgery until you are completely healed or as directed by your physician.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.