What is the otoplasty?
The deformity of the ear which is commonly known as sticking out ears (otoclisis in technical terms) is congenital and has a hereditary component and can be defined as such when the angle between the ear and the skull is wider than usual. It is more common for both the ears to be affected, but sometimes only one ear may have a valgus deformity. This deformity has no functional consequence since it does not cause an acoustic deficit, but it may have a profound psychological importance from early school age, with the start of social contacts outside the family, which can cause out-and-out inferiority complexes. Otoplasty is the operation which is carried out to reposition them correctly and to create an attractive and natural form of the pinna or outer ear. In fact, the operation can even be done to correct an excessively large pinna, lop ears (in which the superior rim of the pinna is folded forwards), small, crumpled ears and ears which have no natural cartilage folds.
Effects of otoplasty
The particular anatomical growth of the ear (which has practically already completed its development at 4-5 years of age) allows for the correction to be carried out already at a pre-school age, even if in most cases we wait for the person’s development to be complete (18-20 years of age). The treatment is essentially surgical since the only other medical treatment which is partially effective (rigid compression bandaging) must be started from birth. The operation has no repercussions on the hearing. The operation does not just modify the position of the outer ear, but gives a more harmonious look to the whole of the face.
As in all surgical operations, it is necessary not to take Aspirin and anti-inflammatory medication for at least 7-10 days before the surgery. The operation is carried out comfortably under a local anaesthetic (with or without sedation, depending on how apprehensive the patient is) and it does not require a stay in hospital. In effect, the cartilage is remodelled structurally so as to allow it to regain a very natural shape, without the evidence of scars. In the post-operative period there may be some slight pain which is quite bearable. The stitches are removed after 10 days and the dressing left in place for another 10 days. The swelling goes down in about 4-5 weeks and the result is stable after 1-2 weeks. Complications are rare and consist of the possible formation of a haematoma (which can be eliminated by syringing), and by infections which are prevented by administering an antibiotic during the operation. The scars on the skin are only slightly visible, because they are generally situated on the rear part of the outer ear or are hidden in the fold behind the ear.