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  • Stephen J. Delatte, M.D.
    (337) 269-4949
  • Louis G. Mes, M.D.
    (337) 504-4336
  • Hugo St. Hilaire, M.D., D.D.S
    (337) 269-4949

Ear Surgery

If You're Considering Ear Surgery…

Ear surgery, or otoplasty, is usually done to set prominent ears back closer to the head or to reduce the size of large ears.

For the most part, the operation is done on children between the ages of four and 14. Ears are almost fully grown by age four, and the earlier the surgery, the less teasing and ridicule the child will have to endure. Ear surgery on adults is also possible, and there are generally no additional risks associated with ear surgery on an older patient.

If you're considering ear surgery for yourself or your child, this information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure - when it can help, how it's performed, and what results you can expect. It can't answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on your individual circumstances. Please be sure to ask your doctor if there is anything you don't understand about the procedure.

All Surgery Carries Some Uncertainty and Risk

When ear surgery is performed by a qualified, experienced surgeon, complications are infrequent and usually minor. Nevertheless, as with any operation, there are risks associated with surgery and specific complications associated with this procedure.

A small percentage of patients may develop a blood clot on the ear. It may dissolve naturally or can be drawn out with a needle.

Occasionally, patients develop an infection in the cartilage, which can cause scar tissue to form. Such infections are usually treated with antibiotics; rarely, surgery may be required to drain the infected area.

The Surgery

Ear surgery usually takes about two to three hours, although complicated procedures may take longer. The technique will depend on the problem.

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With one of the more common techniques, the surgeon makes a small incision in the back of the ear to expose the ear cartilage. He or she will then sculpt the cartilage and bend it back toward the head. Non-removable stitches may be used to help maintain the new shape. Occasionally, the surgeon will remove a larger piece of cartilage to provide a more natural-looking fold when the surgery is complete.

Another technique involves a similar incision in the back of the ear. Skin is removed and stitches are used to fold the cartilage back on itself to reshape the ear without removing cartilage.

In most cases, ear surgery will leave a faint scar in the back of the ear that will fade with time. Even when only one ear appears to protrude, surgery is usually performed on both ears for a better balance.

More Natural-Looking Ears

Most patients, young and old alike, are thrilled with the results of ear surgery. But keep in mind, the goal is improvement, not perfection. Don't expect both ears to match perfectly - perfect symmetry is both unlikely and unnatural in ears. If you've discussed the procedure and your expectations with the surgeon before the operation, chances are, you'll be quite pleased with the result.

Find out how to prepare for your surgery here.

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