Ears are often something you don’t think about: unless your ears protrude too far from your head. If you’re dissatisfied with the look of your ears, or if you worry that your child will be teased or bullied due to the size of their ears, otoplasty can help. If you’re wondering about the best age for an otoplasty–or any other question about the procedure–come talk to us at Nuance Cosmetic Surgery in Folsom, CA. We offer cutting-edge plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures for the whole Sacramento, CA area.
What Is an Otoplasty?
This relatively simple procedure is sometimes known as ear pinning. It’s designed to re-position the ears so they sit in a more natural spot on the head.
For the procedure itself, we simply make a small incision in the fold of skin that lies behind the ear and then reshape the ear by adjusting the cartilage. The incisions are hidden in these folds, meaning there are no concerns about scarring. The final step is to suture the ears closer to the head. As they heal, they will adjust to their new, natural position.
What Is the Best Age for an Otoplasty?
In general, this procedure can be done on anyone over the age of five and up to any age, so long as you are in good enough shape to undergo surgery.
Ear Pinning for Children
For children younger than five, the ears are still growing, and it’s possible that further development may undo the results of surgery. Once this milestone has been reached, however, the rule for nearly all surgical procedures is “the earlier the better.”
Children typically start to notice how others perceive them by around age five or six, and this is often when children are first starting school and may encounter teasing and bullying. If the problem is addressed early, the child may hardly even remember the procedure later in life and will never suffer a blow to their confidence and self-esteem from teasing.
Every child is different, however, and there are other considerations. For example, a child must be mature enough to leave their headwrap alone for the first week after surgery, and since there’s no medical harm in waiting, for some parents, it’s best to let their child gain more maturity before the procedure. We can tell you about the procedure, but you know your own child best, so this is a decision you should make in consultation with us.
Ear Pinning for Adults
Any adult who is otherwise healthy is a candidate for this procedure, and there’s no right age. It doesn’t become harder to correct the ears just because you’re older. If you’re dissatisfied with the look of your ears, it doesn’t matter if you’re 25 or 55: come talk to us about how this procedure can transform your look, and perhaps your life along with it.
The Benefits of Ear Pinning
Our face is the first thing that people see, and when the ears protrude, it’s natural to feel insecure. By putting your ears into a more natural position in relation to your face, you are likely to enjoy a huge boost in self-esteem.
Otoplasties aren’t just for correcting naturally protruding ears, either. This procedure is perfect for dealing with certain birth defects, for correcting ears that have been damaged through trauma, for removing excess cartilage, or for fixing a “cauliflower” ear.
Understanding the Process
Your procedure always begins with a consultation with Dr. Kenneth T. Sumida, MD. Dr. Sumida is a board-certified plastic surgeon and one of Style Magazine’s Favorite Plastic Surgeon and Favorite Doctor for Cosmetic Procedures. Dr. Sumida will help you decide whether this procedure is right for you.
This is also a time for us to get to know you and your goals, and for you to ask questions and understand what to expect from your procedure. We’ll find out details about your health history, any surgeries you’ve had in the past, and what medications or supplements you’re currently taking.
Once we’re sure you’re a candidate, we’ll explain all the details of the surgery and how it will change your ears. You can also expect us to take a few pictures to use for reference as Dr. Sumida works on your ears.
There are some things you can do before the procedure to ensure you or your child have a fast, easy recovery.
Medications and Lifestyle
First, it’s important to stop taking anything that might thin the blood about 10 days before surgery. This includes some prescription medications, but also certain over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements like aspirin or St. John’s Wort.
A few days before the surgery, you should stop drinking any alcohol and give up all smoking as well as the use of any products that contain nicotine, like gums, patches, or certain vaping juices. It’s vital to avoid nicotine during your recovery, as well, since it raises your blood pressure and actively works against your body’s healing processes.
Arrangements for Recovery
Prepare for your procedure by taking care of anything that must be done in advance, like filling your prescriptions, finding childcare (if necessary), and getting a trusted friend or family member to drive you home and stay with you for the first night if you live alone.
Things will go more smoothly if you’ve set up a room for recovery, and especially if your child is having the procedure done. Make sure her favorite TV shows, games, radio or podcast programs, or other entertainment are ready to go to make the first few days as easy as possible.
Day of Surgery
During the surgery, Dr. Sumida will make a small incision in the fold of skin behind your ear. This fold will hide the scar, and through this incision, the surgeon will move your cartilage until your ear is the right size and in the right place. Then the doctor will pin your ears against your head so they can get used to their new position.
The whole procedure takes between 90 minutes and two hours. Once it’s over, we’ll clean the area and bandage it up. An elastic band will secure the bandages and help you keep your ears in their right position for the next few days.
Once you wake up, we’ll monitor you for a little while to make sure everything is going well, and then you’ll be free to go home.
After any surgery, you should plan to rest for a few days. Take it easy and enjoy doing those favorite activities you never have time for, like binge-watching an old TV favorite, reading through a few books, or catching up on podcasts.
For the first two days, you should hold off on showering: take a bath or sponge bath instead to ensure your ears don’t get wet. It’s also a good idea not to lay on your side during this time, so if you typically sleep on your side, try building a small “pillow wall” to keep you from rolling over.
Within a couple of days, you’ll be feeling like your old self, but keep the bandages on until you come in to see Dr. Sumida for a checkup. Once those are off, you can shower again, and most people can go back to work or school in about a week. Plan to wait about six weeks before starting any strenuous exercise or sports or before putting in earrings.
You’ll see the first results of your procedure as soon as we remove the bandages. Your ears will lie against your head and will not look prominent the way they did before your surgery. While you can take off the elastic band around the time you have your bandages off, plan to wear it as much as you feasibly can for the next six weeks. This encourages your ears to stay in their new, ideal position.
It takes about six weeks for your full results to manifest. Once they do, you’ll have your final look: perfectly positioned ears that look like you were born with them that way! Results are also permanent. The position of your ears will never change.
Busting Ear Pinning Myths
There are a few myths surrounding otoplasties that can sometimes discourage people from getting the help they need. Here are a few of the most commonly believed myths:
This Is Only for Children
While it’s always a good idea to give a child their best shot at a wonderful childhood free of teasing and bullying, this isn’t a procedure just for kids. It really is for anyone who needs it, no matter their age. If you never had this done as a child, consider getting it done now.
Otoplasties Can Drastically Improve Hearing
Unfortunately, this procedure doesn’t have any effect on the hearing, except in rare cases where cartilage or “cauliflower” ear is actually blocking the ear canal. For most people, however, this is about an aesthetic rather than an auditory change.
Ears Should Be Perfectly Symmetrical
This is actually a common misconception that can lead some people to have unrealistic expectations about their otoplasty procedure. In reality, no one has perfectly symmetrical ears. Our ears are always at least slightly naturally different from each other, and this natural difference remains after an otoplasty. In fact, if your ears were to be completely symmetrical, people would notice something odd about them!
This Won’t Be Covered By My Insurance
Some insurers and plans don’t cover this procedure because it’s considered elective and reconstructive rather than medically necessary. However, some plans will cover this procedure, and in some cases, ear pinning can be considered medically necessary. Before you make any decisions, be sure to contact your insurance company and find out about your options.
I’ll Have to Stay in the Hospital Overnight
Actually, it’s extremely rare for anyone to have to spend the whole night in the hospital after this surgery. Most children are given general anesthesia so they are comfortable and stress-free throughout, but adults can generally have local anesthesia with IV sedation. Adults and children both almost always go home on the same day as their surgery.
Take Care of Your Ears
If you lack confidence or worry that you stand out in the crowd because of your ears, consider ear pinning. If your child is worried about his or her appearance, or if you can tell their ears are a potential bullying or self-esteem problem in the making, contact us today at Nuance Cosmetic Surgery in Folsom, CA.
No one should have to live life worrying about the shape and size of their ears, and we can help. This is a very common procedure with one of the shortest recovery periods of any surgery. It’s easy to get started, and once you have your new look, you’ll wonder why you waited as long as you did.