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What Is an Otoplasty?

Otoplasty simply put is to change the shape of the ears. Most often this refers and is a procedure used for patients who have irregular shaped ears or ears that tend to be very prominent. The purpose of the procedure is to realign the cartilage segments favorably either to change the shape of the ear or to reduce the size or the angle of the ear and therefore make it less prominent. This is usually done by placing an incision behind the ear and by contouring the ear from behind. The incisions are placed behind the ear so they are not noticed. Once the reshaping is done, the incisions are closed and the skin and overlying tissue act as a splint to keep all the pieces of the cartilage in alignment. Actually, in all fairness, it is a very neat, operation.

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What Are the Possible Complications of Otoplasty?

Like any procedure, otoplasty has a myriad of possible complications, like bleeding, infection, dehiscence, and recurrence. With otoplasty, the most common complication surprisingly is a recurrence. The ear itself is made of several layers of tissue. The most important of these in regards to the procedure is the cartilage. When the cartilage is shaped or reshaped during the procedure, it is given a new form. Over time though this shape may again change and the patient may again be left with an irregularly shaped ear or prominent ears. It is not to say that this happens overnight. The recurrence in most cases can take years and in some cases decades. But the patient needs to be cognizant of the risk of recurrence.

How Painful Is the Procedure?

Like any surgical procedure, there is pain involved. Most patients comment that they have a mild to moderate amount of pain. The pain tends to be at the surgical site and is very localized. Patients also do complain routinely of headaches. If the patient has a history of migraine headaches, the operation may exacerbate the problem acutely. Once the first few days have passed, most patients relate that the pain is very manageable. More important than the pain, however, is the fact that patients cannot sleep on the side of surgery for a few weeks until the area heals. The patients consider this to be a bigger hassle than the actual operation.

How Long Do I Have to Take Off From Work?

Great question. Most often I suggest to patients that they consider taking about 1 week from work. Let me elaborate. Once the operation is completed, the area involved becomes swollen and in many cases becomes extremely bruised. This area then slowly goes through healing. I ask most of my patients to start walking by day#2. I ask them to stay away from exercise at the gym for about 4 weeks. I believe this prevents the development of excessive swelling. As for work though, most patients are fairly comfortable in returning by week 2. However, this does depend on what type of work the patient does. It also depends on how well the swelling has settled and how compliant the patient is.

Can I Combine This Procedure With Any Other Procedure?

Yes. Like any surgical procedure, there are limits to what can be done and what is safe. As for the yes, it can be combined with some other procedures. Multiple other procedures like a facial peel or laser therapy and ablative facial neck procedures are routinely performed. Any procedure that may be too long or too arduous and place the patient at risk for significant bleeding or significant anesthetic exposure would have to be deferred and done in two stages. Please understand I say this without knowing exactly what you, the patient, may have in mind. I can only speak from my experience.

Am I a Good Candidate?

Plastic surgery is not for everyone. It involves certain risks like any operative procedure. As long as you are aware of this fact, you can be considered for the procedure. However, in every case, the patient is best served by a thorough evaluation of their history, their body, and their overall expectations. You as the patient have to be realistic and cognizant of what is possible and what is reasonable. Trust me I am from Beverly Hills and I have had the privilege of working with many of the famous groups of plastic surgeons in LA. I can simply tell you there is no magic. We offer an opportunity to help you with surgical procedures in correcting what you may think is abnormal about your body. Also please understand that for many patients no surgery is needed; just a friendly word of encouragement and confidence from the local plastic surgeon.

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