Cosmetic Ear Surgery [Case Study]
Ear reshaping surgery (otoplasty) has gained popularity over the last several years. In 2014, a total of 36,457 otoplasty procedures were performed in the United States alone. However, some confusion exists regarding this procedure, specifically what can be accomplished with otoplasty.
Otoplasty can address a variety of aesthetic issues related to the ears. Depending on the needs of the patient, several techniques are available to reshape the ears, to ‘pin back’ ears that stick out, and to improve symmetry.
Although the human ear continues to grow throughout life, it reaches near-adult size at a relatively young age. For this reason even children as young as seven years of age can be candidates for ear reshaping procedures, especially if they are at risk for being teased aggressively at school. For adults who are interested in improving the appearance of the ears, the following are important considerations:
Most commonly, patients complain that some part of the ear is too prominent, or ‘sticks out.’ This could be due to insufficient folding of a part of the ear, too much cartilage in different part of the ear, an overly large earlobe, or a combination of these three findings. There are many suture techniques that can be used to impart a new and improved shape to the ear. Many surgeons will then consider removing conservative amounts of tissue if the clinical situation demands it. It is important to note that ear cartilage becomes firmer and more brittle with age – this means that the cartilage can be more difficult to shape reliably in older patients
Otoplasty Case Study – Ear Pinning
- Procedures Depicted: Otoplasty (right ear)
- Patient Age: 26
The Aging Earlobe
Earlobes are structures that can become more noticeable as we grow older, because they tend to sag, elongate, and lose volume. If the concern is due to excess skin and sagging, a portion of the earlobe can be trimmed with a well-concealed incision. If the concern is due to loss of volume, this can be addressed by using fat transfer or hyaluronic acid fillers such as Juvederm or Restylane. These procedures can be performed in isolation under local anesthesia, or in combination with a larger procedure such as a facelift.
The procedures described in this article are appearance-related and are usually considered ‘cosmetic’ by insurance companies. Generally, health insurance companies do not cover cosmetic procedures. Exceptions may exist but these are exceedingly rare in my experience. Be sure to consult with your insurance company and schedule an in-person consultation to learn more about otoplasty.