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Otoplasty

Ear Surgery - Chicago Otoplasty, also known as ear surgery, is a plastic surgery procedure designed to permanently alter the shape of the ears, often to improve the appearance of protruding or asymmetric ears. Patients young and old may have the surgery as long as they are healthy and their goals can be achieved through the surgery. Parents considering otoplasty for their children can read more about pediatric otoplasty here. Also, you may view the before and after photos of patients who have had otoplasty with Dr. Moynihan in our Otoplasty photo gallery.

Our Philosophy:

The procedure is performed by the use of permanent sutures and cartilage excision to allow set back and reshaping of the ears. An incision in the back crease of the ear allows placement of the sutures.

Below is a list of the most commonly asked questions that I have encountered when meeting with patients. The answers below nicely illustrate and summarize the information necessary for a patient to be well informed.

Additional Otoplasty FAQs

How much does an Otoplasty cost?

$6,500-$9,000 with all fees included

Can you use insurance to pay for an otoplasty?

Unfortunately, no. It is considered a cosmetic procedure.

What type of anesthesia is used to perform an otoplasty?

The procedure is typically performed under MAC/IV sedation which can be described as a “twilight sleep”.

Are there age requirements for the procedure?

Although otoplasty can be highly successful and beneficial for children at a much younger age, Gold Coast Plastic Surgery is currently accepting new patients at a minimum age of fifteen years old. There is no maximum age requirement for the otoplasty.

What causes prominent ears?

In the vast majority of patients, the prominence is caused by either underdevelopment of the antihelical fold which is responsible for keeping the top 1/3 of the ear close to the head or by the shape; the firmness and angle of the conchal bowl against the mastoid bone. Patients can either have one or both of these congenital findings in the external ear which dictates which techniques are necessary. See techniques/anatomy section.

Can I have just one ear set back or do I need to do both?

In some cases, there is only one ear affected and the contra lateral (other) ear is in the ideal anatomical position. These patients can have just one ear set back. In the vast majority of cases, both ears are affected to varying degrees. If only the most affected ear is set back and not the less affected ear than the postoperative result will be very distracting and cosmetically asymmetric. It is often recommended to perform the surgery on both ears so that the position the ears are set back to will match and result in a very symmetric and natural result.

Does the procedure hurt?

The first day following the procedure is when most of the discomfort is experienced. This is due to the need to have a compressive dressing worn over night to prevent the accumulation of blood. Once the dressing is removed a vast majority of the discomfort is relieved.

Do I have to wear a dressing?

A dressing is worn through the first night after the surgery. This is removed the next morning. A “headband” must be worn intermittently for the first week of the recovery.

Is there much bruising or swelling?

Typically there is not a significant amount of bruising following surgery. The ears will have a significant amount of swelling during the first 4 days following surgery. By day 7 the ears will retain approximately 20 % of the swelling but will be cosmetically acceptable with regards to public viewing. By week two the ears have less than 5% of swelling and have an excellent cosmetic appearance.

Will the prominence reoccur in the future?

When the correction of the ears is accomplished solely by a suture technique, there is some expected reoccurrence in the adult ear only. Because of this fact, often the adult ear is overcorrected with the expectation that they will relax and settle into the ideal position eventually. Because of this uncertainty and the need to weather a postoperative appearance that is slightly unnatural, I have developed a technique to prevent reoccurrence of the prominence and allow the ears to have a natural appearance during the entire postoperative period.

What are the possible complications following otoplasty surgery?

Hematoma is a collection of blood under the skin. The dressing worn overnight helps prevent this complication.

Infection:

Skin- prevented by the use of antibiotics during the first week of surgery and performing the procedure in a sterile environment. (not the office setting)

Cartilage- – prevented by the use of antibiotics during the first week of surgery and performing the procedure in a sterile environment. (not the office setting)

Cosmetic asymmetry – The ears are typically within millimeters of other following the procedure. It is possible to have asymmetry which is a normal finding in ear anatomy especially if it is significant preoperatively.

Numbness – temporary following surgery and should resolve within months of surgery.

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