Ear correction
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Ear correction in Geneva – Switzerland.

Also known as otoplasty, this surgery corrects prominent ears, resulting from a deformation of the ear cartilage. The surgery can be performed at any age under local or general anaesthesia, with a simple follow-up.

Definition and Objectives

The correction of protruded ears requires a surgical operation, called “otoplasty”, that aims to reorganize the cartilages considered to make the ear excessively visible. The operation is usually carried out on the two ears, but can sometimes be unilateral. 
Schematically there are three types of ear malformations, which are often more or less associated between them:

  • An exaggerated angle between of the ear and the cranium carrying out true “separation” (helix valgus).
  • Excessive size of the ear’s cartilage projecting the ear forward, which accentuates the separated aspect (conchae hypertrophy).
  • A defect of the folding of the usual shape of the cartilage, which makes the frame of the ear to look flat.

Principles

The surgery aims to correct these anomalies definitively by reorganizing the cartilage in order to obtain symmetrical, natural sized and harmonic ears. 
An otoplasty can be performed at any age, but in most cases, the correction is advised to be performed during childhood, from the age of 7 or when the child complains about the ear’s aspect, which sometimes can lead to psychological and social problems at school.

Before the procedure

During an appointment with Dr Xavier Tenorio, specialist in Plastic & Aesthetic Surgery, a full evaluation and careful examination will be performed. The fees of this first consultation will be completely refunded by deducting them from the surgical fees. This procedure is normally performed under local anesthesia, however in the need of a general anesthesia, an appointment with the anesthetist will be schedule at the least 48 hours before the surgery. Drugs containing aspirin should be stopped 10 days preceding the surgery. For boys, a quite short haircut is desirable. For girls, ponytail will suffice. The head and hair should carefully be washed the day before operation. 
According to the type of anesthesia, it may be necessary to avoid drinking or eating 6 hours before the surgery.

Types of anesthesia and hospitalization: Types of anesthesia:

Three options are possible; 
1. Pure local anesthesia, where a product analgesic is locally injected in order to ensure the insensitivity of the ears.
2. Local anesthesia deepened by a relaxant.
3. Traditional general anesthesia.

The choice between these different techniques will result of a discussion between you, the surgeon and the anesthetist.

Hospitalization:

Usually the operation is practiced in “ambulatory” basis, meaning that the patient is discharged the same day after few hours of monitoring. However, in certain cases, a short hospitalization can be preferred.

The surgery: Cutaneous incisions:

Usually, they are located only in the retro-auricular fold, (natural fold located behind the ear). In certain cases, small complementary incisions will be performed in the front part of the ear, but they are unnoticeable.

Dissection and cartilage remodeling:

The skin is then elevated in order to reach the cartilage then the cartilages are reshaped by certain small incisions and sutures in some cases sutures on the skin have to be withdrawn 10 days after the operation.

Bandage: It is carried out with elastic bands around the head in order to maintain the ears in the right position. According to the surgeon and importance of malformations to be corrected, a bilateral otoplastie can last around two hours in total.

Follow up:

Pain is usually moderated and, if necessary, treated with painkillers during few days. A check-up consultation with the surgeon is essential. The first large dressing will be removed between second and the fifth post-operative day. Then, a lighter dressing for few days will replace it. The ears will appear swollen which is normal a transitory period that does not compromise the final result. As a security measure, an elastic band (tennis band) is asked to be worn day and night during two weeks and then only during night for few more days. During this period, physical-activities and sports with risk of contact will have to be avoided. The exposure to cold weather is not advised for at least two months.

The result:

The result can be fully appreciated from the second post-operative month. At this point the tissues are softer and the edema (swelling) reabsorbed. At the end of this period, only the scars will still be a little bit marked. This surgery makes it possible to correct the anomalies and to obtain symmetrical, natural and harmonious ears. In the large majority of the cases, the results are definitive. However, a recurrence can possibly occur in the medium term, being then possible to require a small correction.

Possible complications:

An otoplasty, although simple and primarily carried out for aesthetic motivations, it is a nevertheless surgical procedure, which implies the same risks as per others surgical acts. 
Although extremely rare we have to distinguish the complications related to the anesthesia from those related to the surgery. Concerning the anesthesia, the anesthesiologist will explain the risk and answer the patient’s questions during a pre-op consultation. Today’s technology allows practicing anesthesia under the best safety conditions for the patient and the surgical team.

With regard to the surgical procedure: choosing a qualified surgeon minimizes any risk. Fortunately, the serious complications are very rare and the patients are fully satisfied with their result.

However, the possible complications are: 
 Post-operative bleeding, hecatomb formation which often needs to be evacuated, infection (very rare), cutaneous necrosis secondary to disorders of circulation on the very fine skin and scar abnormalities.

Conclusion

To conclude, an otoplasty is a simple procedure, whose complications are very rare but present. The recourse to a qualified plastic surgeon decreases the risks and ensures you that any complication will be treated effectively.