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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. 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 Dr Lista or his staff if there is anything you don't understand about the procedure.
The best candidates for ear pinning surgery
Surgery to correct out-standing can be performed on healthy, emotionally people of any age. When the operation is being considered on children, they must be at least 5 years old. Ear pinning is becoming more popular in adults who are dissatisfied or self-conscious about the appearance of their ears. Such patients are often reluctant to wear their hair back, cut their hair short or allow their ears to show.
There are many different problems that people can have with their ears. The ears may be of normal size or shape but merely be standing out excessively from the side of the head. Alternatively the ear may be overly large or have an abnormal shape which will require correction. Each patient must be evaluated individually so that the operation can be customized to the patients particular needs. It important that you discuss your goals with Dr Lista so he that can tailor your operation to match your desired look. Dr Lista's main goal when performing surgery, is to give the patient a soft, natural look. The ear should look normal and as if nothing has been done to it. It should not look operated on.
The Office Visit
Dr Lista sees all his patients before surgery. If the patient lives in the Toronto area he prefers to see his patients twice, if possible, before their operation. In the consultation process we spend considerable time obtaining a careful history and physical examination. We also spend a long time discussing the patient's desires, goals and expectations. It is important that the patient discuss with Dr Lista their desired result. Not all expectations can be accomplished with surgery and it is important that these issues are carefully discussed before surgery. Photographs can be helpful in this regard and at The Plastic Surgery Clinic we have computerized digital imaging, which allows Dr Lista to show the patients examples of how they may look after surgery.
How Ear Pinning surgery is performed
Most ear pinning procedures are performed at The Plastic Surgery Clinic. Dr Lista performs all of the procedures personally. He does not have any assistants or students assist with your surgery. Dr Lista is Chief of Plastic Surgery at the Trillium Health Center (The Mississauga Hospital) so your operation can also be performed at the hospital if you prefer. The operation is performed either at our clinic or in the hospital. At the Plastic Surgery Clinic anesthetics are administered by specialist physicians who are board certified in the specialty of anesthesia. These doctors give the anesthetic, stay with the patient during the entire operation and are with the patient while they are waking up. The operation takes one to two hours. A friend or relative will need to come and pick you up and stay with you for 24 hours.
Preparing for your surgery
Dr Lista will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating, drinking, and taking certain vitamins and medications.
Smokers should plan to stop smoking for a minimum of one or two weeks before surgery and during recovery. Smoking decreases circulation and interferes with proper healing. Therefore, it is essential to follow all your surgeon's instructions.
Ear surgery usually takes about two hours, although complicated procedures may take longer. The technique will depend on the problem. Dr Lista will customize the procedure performed in order to address your particular problem and achieve your desired look.
With one of the more common techniques, Dr Lista makes a small incision in the back of the ear to expose the ear cartilage. He then sculpts the cartilage and bends it back toward the head. Stitches will be used to help maintain the new shape. Occasionally Dr Lista will remove a larger piece of cartilage to provide a more natural-looking fold when the surgery is complete.
An incision is made in the back of the ear so cartilage can be sculpted or folded. Stitches are used to close the incision and help maintain the new shape. 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.
Getting back to normal
Adults and children are usually up and around within a few hours of surgery. The patient's head will be wrapped in a bulky bandage immediately following surgery to promote the best molding and healing. The ears may throb or ache a little for a few days, but this can be relieved by medication. It's important to rest quietly at home for about a week. This means one week off school or work.
Within a week the bulky bandages will be replaced by a lighter head dressing similar to a headband. Be sure to follow your surgeon's directions for wearing this dressing, especially at night.
Dr Lista usually uses dissolving stitches and these most often disappear in about a week.
Any activity in which the ear might be bent should be avoided for a month or so. Most adults can go back to work about a week after surgery. Children can go back to school after seven days or so, if they're careful about playground activity.
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. Rarly a deep suture may come undone allowing the ear to pop back out. This may require that the operation be repeated.
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 Dr Lista before the operation, chances are, you'll be quite pleased with the result.
Surgery of the ear, also known as otoplasty, is a procedure that helps reduce protrusion of the ear away from the head. Most often, ear surgery is performed on children between the ages of four to fourteen. Ears that "stick out" are often the source of teasing and ridicule in young children. This teasing can have a devastating effect on the child's psyche.
Otoplasty is not limited to children and may also be performed on older patients. Cosmetic procedures are available for those individuals with large ears and for those with congenital (birth) irregularities that detract from their appearance. Additionally, an individual's ears may exhibit abnormal traits due to their genetic make-up or an accidental injury, such as losing an ear or part of an ear. Otoplasty is used successfully for each of these situations. Regardless of the procedure, patients have been pleased with the long-lasting improvements to their appearance offered by ear surgery.
Reasons for Considering Ear Surgery:
Bring proportion to the face if the ears "stick out" too much.
Correct folded ear tips (lop ear).
Reshape long or offset earlobes.
Enhance very small ears or other congenital defects.
Remedy an accidental injury, including the loss of an ear.
Ear surgery is commonly performed under general anesthesia for children and local anesthesia for adults. The standard otoplasty procedure brings the ears closer to the head. Otoplasty begins with an incision hidden in the crease behind the ear. This incision allows the cartilage located behind the ears to be reshaped in order to position them closer to the head. The procedure takes approximately one to two hours, depending upon the extent of surgery.
There are various surgical techniques involved in correcting irregularities other than protruding ears. These techniques can be discussed with your physician during the initial consultation.
After the surgery is completed, large bandages will be wrapped around the head. This method secures the ear in place and assists with the healing process. The bandages are usually removed within a week and replaced with smaller dressings. Generally, post-operative instructions call for plenty of rest and limited movement in order to speed up the healing process and reduce the recovery time. Patients sometimes report minor pain associated with surgery. Any pain can be treated effectively with oral medication. While complications are rare, patients can minimize potential problems by carefully following the post-operative directions.