I get a lot of questions at my Los Angeles facial cosmetic surgery practice about otoplasty, or ear surgery. The procedure is extremely popular these days, and with good reason – it’s easy, it’s extremely safe, and it can make a lasting difference in the life of a child or adult. Although many people have heard the procedure described as “pinning the ears back,” it typically involves far more careful and exacting work than that implies.
Otoplasty can be performed at any age, but it is easiest with younger patients. This is because the cartilage in the ears is most pliant and flexible in childhood, making it far easier for the ear to assume an altered shape without undue distress. Otoplasty can be safely performed any time after the ears have reached their full size, at about 5 or 6 years of age.
The process is appealingly simple. A small incision is created behind the ear, where no scar will be visible. The cartilage is then carefully shaped to assume a better balance with the face. One or both ears can be treated at the same time; I typically recommend both to ensure optimal and lasting symmetry. Once the procedure is complete, sutures may be applied to hold the ear closer to the head. Over a period of weeks, the ear then heals in this new position, creating a better overall balance – and a marked leap in confidence.
It is important to note that ear surgery is one of the very few procedures typically recommended for younger patients. I understand that some people may recoil from surgically treating a child in this way, which is why I strongly recommend conducting an open and loving conversation with your child about the pros and cons of the procedure. It is also important to measure any downside of early surgery against the possible traumas of mockery and bullying that can accompany an exaggerated facial feature. Whatever you decide, you may also want to connect with an experienced Los Angeles facial cosmetic surgeon who can help you discuss the issues in a sensitive way.