The surgical correction for “elephant” or “wagging” ears is called otoplasty. The normal angle at which the ears protrude from the head is 30 degrees, any angle above this being a good indication for otoplasty.
There are several types of surgical techniques for otoplasties and those will vary according to the ear treated. The ultimate goal of this surgery is to create a natural looking ear, which will not be overly “glued” to the head and will retain the curves and contours of a normal ear, without surgical stigma. The approach is through an incision in the back of the ear, leaving an imperceptible scar.
From what age on can my child have the surgery?
The appropriate age for this intervention is the one at which the child complains about the problem, usually after coming to attention or being made fun at school. This normally happens around 5 to 6 years of age. The exception is the newborns’ ear, which is possible to correct (or at least improve) without resorting to surgery through the use of moulds. It is very important that this type of correction is done as soon as possible after birth, while the cartilage is still mouldable, because after 3 months of life, it is advisable to wait for surgery until they are about 6 years of age.
Is this a painful surgery? What are the precautions after surgery?
Practically painless, this is a well-tolerated surgery in adults and in children. It is necessary to use a headband all day during the first week after surgery and during the night for the subsequent 6 weeks. In adults, this procedure is normally performed under local anesthesia, while in children general anesthesia is required. Otoplasties can be performed in the same operative time as other surgeries, including nasal surgery.