Prominent ears can lead to self-consciousness and poor adaptation to school in many children. Otoplasty is typically performed to set prominent ears closer to the head, or to reduce the size of large ears. The procedure involves recreation of ear folds and resetting of ear closer to the head with sutures. Also, the cartilage in the ear is sculpted to create a more natural, curved look. The surgery can be performed at any age after the ears have reached full size, usually around five to six years of age. The procedure lasts from two to three hours and may be performed as an outpatient procedure. For younger patients, otoplasty is best performed under general anesthesia. However for older patients, the procedure can be conveniently completed under local anesthesia. Ear surgery can be performed in both children and adults. Individuals who have ear surgery can go home same day, with recovery lasting about one week.
Ear surgery can correct a host of problems aside from protruding ears. Other conditions corrected by ear surgery include lop ear: the tip of the ear folds down and forward, cup ear: the ear is usually small and the outer edges are folded inward, creating a cupped look, and shell ear: the natural folds, creases and the curve in the outer rim of the ear are missing. Ear surgery also improves earlobes that are large or overstretched, as well as earlobes that have large creases or wrinkles.
Children who have ear surgery can return to school after about a week but need to be very careful so the ears are not bothered during physical activity. Adults can return to work after about a week following ear surgery. Children and adults should avoid any physical activity where the ear may bend for at least a month.