Congenital ear deformities are a problem that can be difficult for both children and their parents. Approximately 5% of the population has some type of ear malformation. Of the different types of ear malformation, protruding ear and external ear Microtia (little ear) are the two most frequently encountered in plastic surgery. While protruding ear is commonly treated by many plastic surgeons around the country, external ear Microtia is corrected by only a small group of plastic and reconstructive surgeons.
Otoplasty is the name of the surgical procedure that is used to fix protruding ears. It can be performed at any age after the ears have reached full size. Typically, Otoplasty is performed at around five to six years of age. Surgery involves making an incision just behind the ear, in the natural fold where the ear is joined to the head. The surgeon can then either remove the necessary amounts of cartilage and skin to achieve the desired result or simply sculpt the existing cartilage to the desired shape. Next, sutures are applied to hold the ear into place while it heals. After surgery, soft dressings are applied to the ears and should remain for a few days. In some cases, headbands are recommended to hold the ears in the desired position for two weeks.
Ear reconstruction surgery to correct Microtia is a more complicated procedure as compared to Otoplasty. There are a variety of methods that are currently being used to correct Microtia including artificial implants, glue-on or snap-on ears and the rib-graft technique. The rib-graft technique is preferred over these other methods by many plastic and reconstructive surgeons because it uses a patient’s own natural tissue and is less susceptible to infection and rejection. The rib-graft technique involves the use of autogenous rib cartilage to reconstruct the ear and typically requires a staged approach. The rib-graft technique for correcting Microtia is one of the most challenging procedures for reconstructive surgeons and requires a very high level of skill and expertise.
Advances in Otoplasty and ear reconstruction techniques have improved the self-esteem and quality of life for many individuals with congenital ear deformities. If you or your child has a congenital ear deformity and you would like to get more information about your surgical options, contact an ear reconstruction specialist in your local area today.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Mark Mitchell Jones