Ear surgery can be performed for a variety of reasons and may vary in complexity. An otoplasty, or ear pinning surgery, is used to reposition prominent or protruding ears. Earlobe repair surgery is performed to restore the appearance of earlobes that have been stretched or torn. Patients who have earlobes stretched by gauges, torn from pulled earrings, or elongated due to age, may benefit from an earlobe repair.
Dr. Belz will discuss your expectations and the procedure suited to your needs at the time of your personalized consultation.
How is an otoplasty performed?
Colloquially known as ear-pinning surgery, otoplasty seeks to bring overly protruding ears back closer to the head. The surgery is not difficult, and it doesn’t involve a long recovery. Particularly in children whose protruding ears open them up for teasing at school, this is not a surgery to leave for later.
For ear pinning with younger patients, Dr. Belz usually opts for general anesthesia to alleviate nervousness. For adults, local anesthesia is sufficient in most cases.
Dr. Belz begins by making a small incision behind the ear in the crease where the ear meets the head. She then sculpts, shapes, or bends the cartilage into a new position to bring the ear closer to the head. If only one ear is protruding, Dr. Belz still may adjust the other ear to achieve symmetry between the two ears.
How is earlobe surgery performed?
These are outpatient procedures performed in our beautiful San Antonio offices with the patient under only local anesthesia. Reshaping or resizing your earlobes is called lobuloplasty, a type of otoplasty. Earlobe repair of a torn or stretched earlobe falls under otoplasty, not that the designations make a big difference.
Once the patient is locally anesthetized, Dr. Belz works with the skin, removing excess skin in cases of sagging or stretching, or bringing ripped skin back together in a repair. A small amount of skin is removed to create a better incision to stitch back together and heal with a minimal scar. These are simple procedures that are very satisfying as Dr. Belz’s surgical expertise enables her to make the incision scar very thin. This scar fades very quickly in the months after these procedures.
Earlobe Surgery Before & After
How long does ear surgery take?
If the goal of the ear surgery is to bring the ears closer to the head, these procedures usually take about one hour. Earlobe repair usually doesn’t take any longer, unless the injury is more pronounced. Reshaping the ears can take longer; this varies completely with the patient and his or her unique situation.
Are there risks with otoplasty?
There are the same risks as with any surgery: bleeding, infection, poor incision healing, and the like. Otherwise, this is a very low-risk procedure. The upside of a child not having to deal with protruding ears, or an adult finally not worrying about his or her ears, far outweighs the minimal risks involved with otoplasty.
Are there any age restrictions for otoplasty?
The only restriction for otoplasty is ear development. The ears need to be fully grown before a person can have this procedure. Believe it or not, human ears are usually finished growing at age four. This is a good time to have otoplasty with Dr. Belz because the surgery can be completed before the child begins school, where teasing could be a problem if the ear protrusion isn’t addressed.
As for an upper age limit, there is not one. As long as the patient is healthy enough for surgery, he or she can have this surgery.
What is recovery like after ear surgery?
If the procedure is otoplasty, the incision behind the ear is small. Earlobe repair typically involves short incisions, as well. Ear reshaping will have a more involved recovery.
In all cases of ear surgery, the patient’s head will be wrapped in special heavily padded cotton bandages, referred to as “fluff bandages,” after surgery. After a few days, this will be replaced with surgical dressings that need to be worn for the remainder of the first week. At that time, stitches will be removed. Due to the blood pressure in the area, there will be some throbbing for a couple of days, but that can be managed with pain medication. Patients need to avoid sleeping on the affected ear or ears for about two weeks. Children can return to school after about one week. Adults often won’t need an entire week, although this varies by the patient. Again, those timeframes can be longer with more involved ear procedures.
What kind of visible scarring will I have after ear surgery?
Otoplasty really doesn’t have any visible scarring. After all, there is only a small scar where the ear joins the head, but this is located behind the ear, so no one sees it.
Dr. Belz is a board-certified plastic surgeon and this experience and extensive training come into play with earlobe repair surgery. Patients typically end up with only a faint vertical scar. This becomes less and less visible as time passes. During your initial recovery, it helps to not let the incision have sun exposure, so cover your ears with 30+ SPF sunscreen.
If I’ve had earlobe repair, can I have my ears pierced again?
After this surgery with Dr. Belz, you’ll have to let your ear or ears fully heal. This will take a few months. At that point, you can have your ears pierced again. The only thing to be cautious about is the placement of the new piercing, which cannot be located on the incision scar or just above it. The scar is weaker than the surrounding tissue so it will tear more easily. Piercings on either side of your vertical incision are fine.
You’ll want to avoid overly heavy earrings and large gauges moving forward.
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If you're interested in learning more about earlobe repair please contact us for a consultation at (210) 497-7100 or fill out our contact us form. We will discuss your needs and concerns, and determine your best course of action.