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Ear correction (otoplasty) is a surgical procedure of correcting the position and shape of the auricles that are too prominent and detached from the head (‘bat ears’). The operation also involves various ear deformities, both congenital and those caused by injuries or infections. Likewise, undeveloped auricles can partly or completely be reconstructed.
The intervention can be performed as early as at the age of seven, when development of the auricles is almost completed. In this way, psychological problems that may be experienced in the school environment are timely prevented. Besides this, the auricle cartilage is softer at an early age and therefore more easily reshaped than in adults. If necessary, the patient’s general health condition is examined and laboratory analyses done.
In the youngest children, the intervention is performed in general anesthesia, whereas local anesthesia is more convenient for bigger children and adults. Due to their strong motivation, children are usually very cooperative. The operation generally takes about two hours. The choice of surgical technique depends on the problem. Through the incision, most commonly made behind the auricle, cartilage is approached; it is then reshaped and brought closer to the head. This new position can be supported with sutures. In order to obtain a more natural look, part of cartilage can be removed when it is necessary. Finally, the incision in the skin is closed.
Large, soft compresses around the head are worn during seven days. Their role is to support the new position and shape of the auricles and to protect them. Slight pains and discomfort caused by the sensations of noise in the ears may be experienced in this period. Sutures either disappear spontaneously from the skin or are removed after seven days. The compresses are then replaced by an elastic band wrapped around the head. Return to school or to work can be expected after approximately ten days. During the following month, activities involving risks of ear tugging or injuring should be avoided. A scar in the form of a thin whitish line is left behind the auricle, hidden in the natural depression. Changes in skin sensation are temporary.