Ear surgery, or ostoplasty, is a procedure that changes the shape or proportion of the ear. It may be done on patients with birth defects, damage to their ears, or on patients who otherwise do not like the aesthetic look of their ears.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons there were 22,167 ear surgery (ostoplasty) surgeries in the United States in 2014.
When to Choose Ear Surgery
Ear surgery can be done any time after the ears have fully developed, usually between the ages of 4 to 6. Patients might choose ear surgery if they want to:
- Shift protruding ears closer to the head
- Reduce the size of large or abnormal ears caused by macrotia
- Correct ears damaged by trauma
- Changing the shape of the ears for aesthetic purposes
- Augment the symmetry of the ears
- Enhance confidence and self-esteem
Most patients who choose to have ear surgery elect for “ear pinning surgery” due to worries that their ears protrude too far. Since this is often the result of abnormalities that occurred before birth, many children have this procedure done when their ears are fully grown.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported the average cost of ear surgery in 2014 to be $2,963. Most heath insurance companies will not cover the costs of the procedure for patients electing to have ear surgery for cosmetic reasons.
Ear Surgery Procedure
The ear surgery procedure will change based on the patient's ultimate goal for the surgery. The procedure will also depend on the age of the patient; children have softer cartilage in their ears that allows for a less invasive procedure where the surgeon can reshape the cartilage instead of cutting it.
Before the procedure, patients will be given anesthesia appropriate to the procedure that will take place.
Ear pinning procedures begin with an incision to the back of the ear. The surgeon will remove or reposition parts of the cartilage, extra skin, and fat, and will close the incision. The surgeon may also trim excess cartilage. This procedure takes 1 to 2 hours.
The procedure will change for patients who have suffered damage or trauma to their ears, or who were born with malformed ears. Doctors can harvest cartilage from the patient's ribcage to augment the cartilage in the ear, or use a skin graft taken from another part of the body. If patients are not candidates for these procedures, doctors may create prosthetic silicone ears.
Before agreeing to surgery, patients should ask their doctor about his/her qualifications, where the procedure will be performed, and about other patients under the doctor who received the same procedure.
Risks of Ear Surgery
Ear surgeries have relatively less risk than many cosmetic surgeries. Risks include:
- Change in the sensation of skin around the ear
- Skin discoloration
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia
Doctors should discuss all possible risks with their patients before surgery.
Malpractice in Ear Surgery
If you or a loved one has been harmed by negligence during an ear surgery, call Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation. Our experienced attorneys will give you the legal representation you deserve.