Otoplasty, which is more commonly known as ear pinning or reshaping, is a form of cosmetic surgery aimed at changing the external physical appearance of the ears. It is one of the oldest forms of cosmetic surgery which traces back to 600B.C, when Sushruta, an Indian physician first described the reconstruction of amputated ears. The techniques of otoplasty he developed form the basis of surgical procedures that are practiced to this day.
The way in which the ears are changed can take many forms. For example, the ears can be reduced in size, can be brought inwards to be made less prominent and bends or malformations of the cartilage can be reshaped. Basically, otoplasty surgery can involve a combination of moving, reshaping, adding, or removing structural ear elements.
Depending on the amount and type of work due to be carried out on the ears, otoplasty surgery can be performed under a local anaesthetic, with or without sedation, or a general anaesthetic. Similarly, otoplasty is generally treated as an outpatient surgery. The procedure can vary greatly in length, depending on the problem being treated. Simple ear corrections can take ninety minutes while more complex procedures may last as long as five hours.
The procedure is relatively straightforward. The operation begins with the surgeon making an incision just behind the ear in the natural fold where the ear meets the side of the head in order to expose the cartilage. The incision can also be made at the front of the ear, although surgeons tend to prefer making the incision at the back as scarring will be less visible. The cartilage and skin are then remodelled and, in some cases, part of the cartilage may even be removed. Once the ear has been remodelled to the appropriate shape and size, the surgeon will stitch up the initial incision with stitches. The operation is completed by bandaging the ears in order to protect them.
The bandaging or head dressing that is used to cover and protect the ears should be worn for at least a week following ear plastic surgery. Once the bandaging or other protective garment is removed surgeons recommend that patients wear a tennis head band as much as possible for at least six weeks. However, day to day activities may mean that wearing the head band may be restricted to the evening and night time.
One of the most appealing aspects of otoplasty is that, unlike many forms of plastic surgery, the results are immediately visible as swelling and bruising are minimal and as absorbable stitches are generally used, no follow-up visits are required. Therefore, once the bandages are removed, the ordeal is over and you can enjoy renewed confidence.