If your child has ever been summoned by the nick name "Dumbo" or "Mickey Mouse", Otoplasty may be an option for them. Otoplasty is the surgical repair of protruding ears. This surgery can be performed at any age after the ears have reached full size, usually five to six years of age. Even if the ears are only mildly out of proportion to their face, this condition can lead to self-consciousness and poor adaptation at school.

Adults, too, may benefit from this procedure, which improve in self-esteem. Adults may often choose to have this cosmetic surgery along with other cosmetic repairs.  Not only is it possible to "pin ears back", but ears can also be reshaped, reduced in overall size or made more symmetrical.

Is Otoplasty an Option for You?

When considering Otoplasty for children, parents must be confident they have their child's best interest at heart. A positive attitude toward the surgery is an important factor toward all facial plastic surgery, but especially critical when working with a child.  Timing is an important consideration. Having this procedure at a young age is highly recommended for two reasons: the cartilage is extremely pliable, making shaping easier; and secondly the child will be able to experience psychological benefits from the cosmetic improvement.

*Insurance does not usually cover Otoplasty because of its cosmetic nature.  Surgery to correct or improve birth defects or traumatic injuries may be reimbursable in whole or partially. This is the patient's responsibility to check with the insurance carrier for the information on the degree of coverage from their insurance companies.

How is Otoplasty performed?

The surgery begins with a small incision behind the ear, where the natural fold of the ear meets the head. The surgeon will removed the necessary amount of cartilage and skin required to create the most desirable look. In some cases, the surgeon will trim the cartilage, shaping it into a more desirable form and then pin the cartilage back with permanent sutures to secure the cartilage to the head. 

In other instances, the surgeon will not remove any cartilage at all. Stitches alone will hold the cartilage permanently in place.  After sculpting the cartilage to the desired shaped, the surgeon will apply sutures to anchor the ear.

Adult candidates for Otoplasty should understand the rigid cartilage of fully developed ears do not provide the same molding and reshaping capacity as the cartilage of children. A consultation with Dr. Jay White our board-certified facial plastic surgeon can help those interested in Otoplasty decide what is best for them or their children.