Children, long the victims of cruel nicknames like “Dumbo” or “Mickey Mouse,” are the most likely candidates for otoplasty-commonly known as ear surgery in the San Francisco region-but this surgery can be performed at any time after the ears have reached full size, which usually happens at around 5 to 6 years of age. Even if the ears are only mildly distorted, the condition can lead to self-consciousness and poor adaptation to school. When it comes to otoplasty, conventional wisdom is the earlier the better.
Adults may also benefit from an ear surgery procedure, which improves self-esteem with relative ease. Adults often choose this surgery in conjunction with other facial plastic surgical procedures. Not only is it possible to “pin back” ears, but ears can also be reshaped, reduced in size, or made more symmetrical.
General good health and realistic expectations are, of course, prerequisites for ear surgery. It is also important to understand that an otoplasty will not alter hearing ability. What is important for successful otoplasty is that the ears be in proportion to the size and shape of the face and head.
When considering ear surgery, parents must be confident that they have their child’s best interests at heart. A positive attitude toward the surgery is an important factor in all facial plastic surgery, but it is especially critical when the patient is a child or adolescent.
Adult candidates for ear surgery should understand that the firmer cartilage of fully developed ears does not provide the same molding capacity as in children. A consultation with a facial plastic surgeon can help parents decide what is best for their child, not only aesthetically, but also psychologically and physically. Timing is always an important consideration. Having the procedure at a young age is highly desirable in two respects: The cartilage is extremely pliable, thereby permitting greater ease of shaping; and secondly, the child will experience psychological benefits from the cosmetic improvement.
Choosing a qualified Bay Area facial plastic surgeon is very important. During your consultation, Dr. Jacobs will examine the structure of the ears and discuss possibilities for correcting the problems. Even if only one ear needs “pinning back,” surgery will probably be recommended on both ears to achieve the most natural, symmetrical appearance.
Should Dr. Jacobs suggest ear surgery is indicated, he will discuss the procedure, including anesthesia, surgical facility, and costs. Typically, your surgeon will suggest a general anesthesia for young patients and a local anesthetic combined with a mild sedative for older children and adults. Under normal conditions, otoplasty surgery requires approximately two hours.