When most people think of plastic surgery, they assume that procedures are mostly performed on adults, typically middle-aged or older adults. While this is true for the vast majority of plastic surgery procedures, there are a few exceptions to this rule. For example, otoplasty (commonly known as ear reshaping or ear pinning) is a procedure most often performed on young children. However, adults are often interested in this procedure as well. Is otoplasty possible for adults, and is there any difference in the procedure or the results?

Reasons for Adult Otoplasty

Otoplasty is used for cosmetic issues such as overly large ears, ears that stick out too far from the head, or “lop” ear deformities. These problems are quite common, but can cause self-consciousness and other emotional ramifications. Otoplasty is also utilized for more rare and severe ear deformities. It is a versatile procedure that requires the skill of a board certified facial plastic surgeon.

People seek adult otoplasty for largely the same reasons parents seek cosmetic ear surgery for their young children. The major difference is usually the emotions behind the decision: adults are typically looking to boost self-esteem after years of feeling embarrassed by ear abnormalities, while children usually have otoplasty performed to help avoid potential bullying in school from their peers. Adults who pursue otoplasty often have experienced severe teasing as children and are anxious to finally get the surgery.

Is It Possible?

Some prospective patients worry that they are too old for the procedure, but the truth is that many adults have successful otoplasty surgeries each year, and there is no real difference between how the operation is performed on adults versus on children. Adult otoplasty patients do miss out on a few small benefits of an early procedure, but there is no reason young adults (the second most common age group seeking otoplasty) should not undergo the procedure. Otoplasty is preferred for children because it helps facilitate healthy social behavior in school (preventing bullying and promoting self-esteem), and because children typically have more malleable ear cartilage. But there are benefits to undergoing the surgery as an adult as well. First, the patient is more able to make an informed decision about treatment and is able to do the research necessary to find an expert surgeon to perform the operation. Second, an adult is more aware of the impact of aftercare on the final results of otoplasty, and can be more diligent about post-operative care.

The Procedure

Otoplasty may be performed under various types of anesthesia, chosen based on the patient and the extent of the changes to be made. Incisions will be made in the natural creases of the ear or where the ear meets the head, depending on the goals of the procedure. Skin and cartilage may be removed to give the ears the desired shape, and incisions are closed with external stitches.

Initial healing takes a few weeks, and normal activities can be resumed gradually, following the surgeon’s instructions. The ears will take special care and protection for six weeks or longer following surgery, however.

Unfortunately, unless there is a hearing-related deformity involved, otoplasty is generally considered an elective procedure by insurance companies, and is therefore not usually covered. Even when ear surgery is covered, there may be limits on the payouts, regarding which portions of the surgery are considered cosmetic rather than functional.

Talk to a Plastic Surgeon

The most important factor in a procedure’s success is the plastic surgeon performing the operation. If you are considering facial plastic surgery such as otoplasty, then it is important to select a skilled plastic surgeon you can trust. You should only consult with board certified facial plastic surgeons, as you are more likely to get a successful outcome by choosing a qualified specialist.

For expert help in Austin, Texas, come to Buckingham Center and meet with distinguished plastic surgeon Dr. Edward Buckingham. Dr. Buckingham has extensive experience, excellent academic records, and a high rate of patient satisfaction. Call 512-401-2500 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Buckingham.

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