Every year billions of rupees are spent cumulatively by people on things that are needed to look good. The cosmetic and fashion industries are one of the biggest industries today. It is only because everybody wants to look good in all aspects. Cosmetics and toiletries can make one look good superficially and temporarily. But modern medicine has made it possible for people to permanently alter their physical features. Now, people can have the body and face they have visualized for themselves. Plastic and cosmetic surgical procedures can alter, repair and restore the flaws or defects in one’s physical appearance. Many specific procedures are now available which are targeted at specific body parts. For example, Abdominoplasty and rhinoplasty are two specific procedures which are targeted at altering the shape and look of the abdominal area and nose respectively. Similarly, otoplasty is the procedure which targets the ears in case they are deformed or they need to be reshaped for cosmetic purposes. Otoplasty can be either done for medical or cosmetic reasons.
Otoplasty is done in the cases where the ears get damaged or deformed due to congenital defects or some type of accident. Some people feel embarrassed and too self-conscious if their ears are big and they protrude from their head. Otoplasty can be done in these cases which are only for cosmetic reasons.
In almost all cases otoplasty can be only performed if the patient is 5 years of age or older. Before this age the ears are not fully developed for surgery. The symmetry and shape of the ears can be rebalanced with otoplasty.
Reason of protrusion of ears in some people
The outer ear area which is also known as pinna may be overdeveloped in some cases or may have excessive cartilage. Both these reasons can cause the ears to excessively protrude. In normal cases, the angle between the ears and the head is anywhere between 25 to 35 degrees. In the cases where this angle is greater than 35 degrees the ears may look abnormally protruded. In newborns the ears may have protrusion but in almost all cases it gets fine with time but in the cases where the problem does not resolve otoplasty can be done. Sometime underdeveloped cartilage of the outer ears may be the cause of the protrusion as it does not fold properly inwards the ears.
Corrective procedure for protruding ears
On newborns that are minimum 6 months old, a relatively safe procedure known as ear splinting can be performed. This surgery involves the reshaping of the soft cartilage of the ears with a splint. The purpose of the ear splint is to keep it supported and in its correct position. Since after 6 months of age the cartilage becomes hard and cannot be remodeled the surgery should be done as soon as possible in newborns. A missing pinna or outer ear can be constructed through otoplasty which is the only option in older children. Restoration and complicated repairs can be performed only through otoplasty. Mostly otoplasty is ideally carried when the child has turned 5 years old because the ears become fully developed and fit for surgery.
Different types of otoplasty
The three different types of otoplasty are: –
- Otopexy is the procedure which is done to correct the protrusion so that the ears look natural and lay flat.
- If the pinnas are too big it causes a condition known as macrotia which can be corrected by ear reduction surgery.
- The ear augmentation surgery is performed in cases where either the pinnas have not developed completely or do not exist at all. This condition is medically known as microtia.
The surgery is performed by ENT surgeons or plastic surgeons and lasts for two to three hours. The incision is made behind the ears, which therefore leads to a concealed scar which heals and fades on its own in sometime. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia.
After the surgery, the patients are advised not to shampoo their hair for few days because the ears are covered with bandages. The washing can cause infection. The bandages need to be changed every few days. After the surgery, once the ears have healed, a loose bandage is tied over the head so that the reconstructed or reshaped ears do not lose their shape. Patients are prohibited from doing sports activities like swimming or anything which damage the ears. But a patient can resume his normal routine in two to three weeks if there is no post-operative complication.
Bruising and stiffness in the ears could happen after the surgery. But generally these are minor issues and do not require any medical assistance as they resolve on their own. Very rarely, additional surgery for reshaping and reconstruction may be needed.
Dr. Debraj Shome is one of the most reputed cosmetic surgeons in India with numerous accolades and awards to his name. He has been felicitated by numerous different organizations around the world for the phenomenal work he has done in his field. He has been awarded with the honors such as “best oculoplastic surgeon in India”, “The best celebrity surgeon in the world”, “Marquis who’s who Asia Pacific”. The list of his achievements is very long and continues to grow.