Your ears do much more than allow you to hear sounds around you. The external organs also contribute to facial balance. Having ears that are too small, irregular, too large or asymmetrical draws attention away from your face. As a result, children may be teased, and adults may feel self-conscious about how they look. As a double board-certified Atlanta plastic surgeon, Dr. Christopher Killingsworth, specialize in otoplasty, a cosmetic ear surgery to help those in the Cumming, Atlanta and Forsyth County areas improve the size and shape of their ears.
Surgery to Improve the Ears
For children and adults who have ears that are too large, uneven or misshapen, or they protrude too much, cosmetic ear surgery may be a solution for you. Ear surgery, also known as otoplasty, is a procedure that reshapes the ear placing it closer to the scalp and it is unique because it is one of the only plastic surgery procedures performed more commonly on children than adults. Some people are born with ears that stick out too far. This condition is called Lop Ear Deformity. In Lop Ear Deformity, part of the upper ear that looks like a “Y” (the antihelix) is too flat and there is excess cartilage in the bowl-like part of the lower ear (the concha). Children with Lop Ear Deformity are often the objects of ridicule, but adults also grow tired of the attention they receive from having abnormal ears.
When ears protrude from the head instead of tapering back in a normal position, it can significantly impact confidence and self-esteem. Adults with prominent ears may be self-conscious about their appearance, and they often attempt to hide their ears from public view with hats or different hairstyles. Even from the young age of three to four years, children can begin to recognize the difference in their ears from that of their peers and this feeling that they are somehow “different” escalates as they grow older. Children who attend school with protruding ears are often subjected to teasing and caustic remarks that can lead to serious emotional and psychological scars.
Benefits of Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)
Otoplasty is a cosmetic ear surgery that improves facial balance by:
- Changing the size of the ears
- Improving overall shape of the ears
- Pinning the ears closer to the head
- Correcting flaws in ear structure
- Enhancing ear symmetry
Evaluation for Ear Pinning and Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)
At Atlanta Aesthetics, Dr. Killingsworth offers otoplasty to reposition the ears back into a natural position while improving the appearance of abnormally shaped ears. Otoplasty is also referred to as “pinning the ears back” and this procedure involves re-contouring the ears with special instruments and permanent sutures. Ear surgery is the most effective way to bring the ears back into proportion with the rest of the body and while certainly not restricted to children, the average patient age for otoplasty is between 4 and 14 years old.
Ear surgery for children is recommended at the age of five or six as they near total ear development. Unlike other facial features, at this age a child’s ear has reached its adult size and is almost fully (90%) formed. Another incentive for early otoplasty is that the ear cartilage is soft and malleable during childhood, making the surgery easier to perform. When ear surgery is done at a young age, children are very compliant, and it will eliminate potential bullying and the traumatic ridicule from their classmates. During otoplasty, the child’s ears are commonly made to appear smaller and/or less prominent before reshaping them into a normal position, and to ensure a successful outcome: ear surgery must be a family decision. Parents should be in tune with their child’s interest in the otoplasty procedure and not pressure them until they are ready as this can cause unnecessary anxiety and fear.
Adults too can benefit from otoplasty, and as long as you are in good health, there is no upper age limit for ear surgery. Besides patients seeking otoplasty for cosmetic reasons, ear surgery can also reconstruct ears that have been injured in an accident and earlobe surgery can be performed to repair earlobes that are torn from wearing heavy earrings or injury.
The Ear Pinning Procedure
Otoplasty is typically performed as an outpatient procedure that can take two to three hours to complete. General anesthesia is commonly used for children while adults and young adults may receive local anesthesia with oral sedation. During your consultation, Dr. Killingsworth will discuss options regarding anesthesia as well as the many surgical techniques that are available to improve the appearance of your ears and the particular method he recommends will depend on the nature of your problem, your personal anatomy, and many other factors including your overall expectations and goals. Because every person is unique, each patient will not achieve the same results from ear surgery, and Dr. Killingsworth will select the surgical technique that they feel will obtain the best outcome for you.
If you have protruding ears, Dr. Killingsworth will reshape the supporting tissue of the ears (cartilage) in order to position your ears closer to your head. This is accomplished through incisions placed behind the ears concealed in the natural skin crease. For ears that need to be reduced in size or are protruding in the middle 1/3 of the ear, external incision of the front (outside surface) of the ear will be necessary and Dr. Killingsworth will place the incisions in areas where they will heal in an inconspicuous manner. For ear reductions, skin, as well as cartilage, will need to be removed before the incision(s) are sutured back together.
It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery from ear surgery varies greatly among individuals. For the first several days after your surgery, you should maintain head elevation as much as possible, and any pain can be controlled with oral medication. You will be instructed to wear gauze dressing or bandages for a few days to ensure that your ears heal in their new, corrected position and a headband to cover the ears should be worn at night to prevent the ears from bending during sleep. Straining, bending, and lifting should be avoided during the early postoperative period and some patients find that mild swelling may persist for several weeks although bruising typically disappears within two weeks. Most patients resume normal activities within 10 days or less and children usually require one to two weeks off from school for recovery. The benefits of this operation with minimal down time makes otoplasty a very safe and relatively simple surgery to perform and fortunately, significant complications from aesthetic ear surgery are infrequent.
Every year, thousands of cosmetic ear surgeries are performed, and patients are extremely pleased and finally like what they see when they look in the mirror. Since results are permanent, otoplasty is a rewarding surgery, and your protruding ears will never be an issue again. If you are tired of hiding your ears to avoid hearing negative comments, please call Atlanta Aesthetics today and let us schedule your consultation with Dr. Killingsworth: a consultation that is the first step to making you proud of the way you look instead of embarrassed or ashamed.
Atlanta Ear Surgery (Otoplasty) Cost and Financing Options
The cost of your ear surgery may be partially covered by your medical insurance. After your consultation, we advise you as to whether your otoplasty is medically indicated. If ear surgery is only cosmetic, you are responsible for the full cost. We accept payment by cash, personal check, credit card and CareCredit® financing
If you or your child feels ashamed or embarrassed by the shape or size of your ears, please contact Atlanta Aesthetics to schedule a personal consultation with double board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Christopher Killingsworth. Dr. Killingsworth specializes in otoplasty surgery to improve the size and shape of the ears.