There are different types of ear reshaping surgery. One is Otoplasty, which is most commonly performed to correct the position of protruding or prominent ears (“Dumbo Ears”) on one or both sides. Surgical techniques create or increase an underdeveloped fold of the upper ear, and reduce and/or rotate the conchal cartilage of the mid part of the ear to create a more normal appearance. Ear reshaping surgery can also be performed to improve large or stretched earlobes or to repair split earlobes that can occur from wearing heavy earrings.
Less common ear deformities that can affect one or both ears include: “lop ear,” when the top seems to fold down and forward; “cupped ear,” which is usually a very small ear; and, “shell ear,” when the curve in the outer rim, as well as the natural folds and creases, are missing.
Microtia is a complex congenital ear deformity where the outer ear is severely disfigured. Hearing is impaired in varying degrees. Reconstruction requires staged surgical procedures to create a more normal external ear and improve hearing and is typically performed by specially trained plastic surgeons at specialized centers.
Many of the more common reshaping procedures are performed under local anesthesia. Otoplasty is usually performed in an outpatient in a facility under sedation or general anesthesia, especially in the case of children.
In otoplasty, initial swelling dissipates over 2 to 4 weeks. Protective headwear is usually recommended to prevent recurrence of prominent ears in the early healing phase. Incision sites continue to refine and fade for 1 year. Cartilage is flexible and therefore results may not be fully predictable.
Earlobe surgery is much less invasive and therefore healing appears to progress quickly. Repiercing can frequently be done about 1 month after repair.