Otoplasty or ear re-shaping can take many forms from correcting an overly prominent ear cartilage to reducing large ear lobes to closing elongated pierced ear openings or even complete ear lobe splits.
The most common age for correction of a prominent ear is before school starts, perhaps at age 6. This will reduce the emotional stress when starting school if the patient has been the object of ridicule. However, ears can be re-shaped at any age past 4 years; the age of full ear growth. Most often, the surgery is done under a general anesthetic, although IV sedation and local can work well for minor corrections. The cartilage is most commonly re-shaped with suturing done through a posterior approach hiding the incision on the back of the ear. Occasionally it is necessary to remove or even add cartilage for the best result possible. The procedure will take anywhere from one to two hours and is typically done as an out patient. Bandages are worn for a day or two and swelling and bruising may last 7 to 10 days typically. Sutures are removed in about one week.
Ear lobe surgery is done under a local anesthetic for all except complex procedures. Sutures are typically removed in 7 days and showering is permitted on the day after the procedure.
Repair of larger stretched areas such as from gauging, may require more than one procedure due to the complicated nature of the problem.