Otoplasty generally takes about 2 to 3 hours, depending on how complicated the procedure is. The use of anesthesia may vary among patients. General anesthesia is used mostly on children under 12 years of age. On the other hand, adults receive local anesthesia most of the time.
The technique used by the surgeon will depend on the condition or problem of the patient. Otoplasty in patients with protruding ears usually involves an elliptical-shaped incision that is done in the cartilage behind the ear. The surgeon will shave, flatten, fold, or manipulate the cartilage after making the incision in order to attain desired position of the ear and achieve a new shape for it. An exceedingly long or uneven ear lobe may be trimmed in order to attain a balanced appearance of the ears. Fine sutures are made in order to maintain the ears’ new position while it is healing. Compressive dressings are utilized in order to protect and care for the surgical site and to maintain the ears’ new shape at the time of recovery. Scars will not be noticeable as they are situated behind the ear.
One of the more common techniques includes exposing the ear cartilage. This is done by making a small incision behind the ear. The cartilage will then be sculpted and bent back toward the head. On occasion, the surgeon may remove a larger part of cartilage in order to achieve a more natural-looking fold after surgery is done. To help preserve the new shape of the ears, non-removable stitches are used.
A different technique utilizes a similar incision done behind the ear. However, the skin is removed and stitches are used to fold the cartilage back on itself. This is done without having to remove the cartilage. There are cases wherein surgery is performed on both ears even if only one ear appears to protrude. This is done in order to achieve better balance for both ears.