Lop ear deformity, or having ears that appear to stick out too far, is a fairly common issue and one that can cause embarrassment and self-consciousness to a lot of people, both adults and children. It can be corrected with a procedure called an otoplasty
Also known as ear-pinning, otopasty uses permanent sutures to reshape the ears by removing or restructuring cartilage in the lower ear and reshaping the upper ear to keep it closer to the scalp. Dr. Bentkover has had much success performing this procedure on both youths and adults for over 25 years.
Typical candidates for otoplasty are children over the age of five who find themselves the object of ridicule at school due to their protruding ears, but adults who find themselves self-conscious or who lack confidence in social or professional situations because of their ears often seek the procedure as well. Dr. Bentkover has performed an increasing number of these operations on teenagers and adults who have put off the surgery for years due to insurance problems or other concerns. He has had success with otoplasty for over 30 years.
To determine whether you or your child might be a good candidate for otoplasty, it will be necessary to go through a thorough consultation with Dr. Bentkover. Be sure to bring all relevant paperwork to this meeting, including completed forms from our office as well as medical records. During this meeting, Dr. Bentkover will discuss the patient’s medical history and ask about current issues with the ears as well as the patient’s personal goals for surgery. He’ll examine the ears thoroughly, looking for individual characteristics such as cartilage strength and skin thickness. Once the examination is over, you’ll be able to look at before and after pictures of other patients and talk about realistic outcomes for the otoplasty. Once you’ve made your decision, you’ll go over practical details like fees and scheduling with our aesthetics nurse.
The Otoplasty Procedure
Since otoplasty is normally done using either general anesthesia or intravenous sedation, the surgery is normally done in Saint Vincent Hospital’s Day Surgery Unit in Worcester Medical Center in Worcester, MA. This facility is well-equipped and state-of-the-art as well as comfortable and patient-friendly.
Once the patient has been properly anesthetized, the procedure will begin. An incision will be made either behind or inside the ear to allow Dr. Bentkover to remove or reposition cartilage to correctly shape the ear. Any normal folds that are missing will be recreated by shaping the cartilage with permanent sutures or by scraping away excess cartilage to create the correct fold. If the patient is a child, the surgery is somewhat simpler since the cartilage of the ear is still soft and can often be contoured using splints rather than removing and repositioning cartilage. Once the correct ear shape has been achieved, Dr. Bentkover will carefully close the incisions before sending the patient off to recovery.
Before the procedure, you’ll be given instructions to help minimize bleeding and swelling as well as antibiotics to help avoid infection. The patient’s ears will be wrapped in dressing for the first days following the procedure, but they will be removed during a follow-up appointment in 2-4 days. Sutures will also be removed about a week after the surgery. Pain following surgery is typically quite moderate and can be managed well with prescribed medication. For the first week after surgery, the head should remain elevated and dry. Most patients are able to resume work or school in 10 days, but exercise or sports may need to be avoided for a week or two after that, depending on the progress of the healing.
Otoplasty is an operation that reshapes the ear, generally in order to place it closer to the scalp. It is often used to correct lop ear deformity.
Typically, insurance does not cover this elective operation.
Yes. Before the surgery, the child must be over 5 in order to be sure that the ears are nearly done growing. While correcting aesthetic issues in children can have a valuable impact on the quality of their school years, it’s important that parents recognize that the burden of aftercare will belong primarily to the adults in the household, since a young child will not be able to cope with correct incision care and cleaning on his own.
No, the results from otoplasty are permanent. Since the ears are typically completely finished growing by age six, most patients will enjoy the results of the procedure for the rest of their lives.
No. Dr. Bentkover makes a point of concealing each incision in the crease behind the ear where it connects to the head or in the inner folds of the ear. In either case, they will be invisible under all but the most careful examination.
Otoplasty is a very safe procedure that has been performed for a long time, and Dr. Bentkover has a great deal of experience in performing the surgery successfully and without complication. That said, any surgical procedure does carry a small risk of bleeding and infection. There is also a slight chance of greater-than-expected scarring or long-term numbness in the region. Lifestyle choices like smoking can also create complications by interfering with the normal healing process.
The ears will be noticeably closer to the scalp immediately following surgery. There will be swelling in the area, however, and that can mask the new contours of the ear. While the majority of the swelling will be gone within two weeks, it can take as long as a year for it to fully subside to reveal the permanent structure of the ear. That said, this residual swelling is typically only apparent in a thorough examination and will not be noticeable in most cases.