Tucson Otoplasty Ear Surgery Information, Benefits and Risks

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What is an otoplasty?

Otoplasty is a surgical procedure that repositions and reshapes the ear to give it a more-pleasing appearance.

When is an otoplasty used?

Otoplasty can be performed on a child or an adult who has prominent, asymmetric or malformed ears.

What is involved at a consultation for an otoplasty?

When you come in for your initial consultation, you will meet with Dr. Maloney and Lindsay, the clinical coordinator. Maloney Plastic Surgery is one of the only practices in Tucson, Arizona to offer VECTRA 3D (three-dimensional) technology to our patients. One of the first things we will do at your consultation is use VECTRA imaging technology to take a 3D image of your face and ears. The exciting part about the VECTRA technology is we can perform an “otoplasty” on the 3D image and show you how the operation will look on your head in 3D! We are excited and proud to offer this amazing technology to our patients.

After Vectra imaging, Dr. Maloney will determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure. He will also discuss details of the surgery, show you before and after photos and answer any questions you may have. At this time, Dr. Maloney will also discuss anesthesia options. With this surgery, most people choose to be awake; however children under the age of nine typically go to sleep. Lindsay will review surgical fees, financing options and answer additional questions.

If you choose to have surgery, you will return for another consultation about 2 weeks before your scheduled surgery. At this appointment, Dr. Maloney will review the surgical plan with you, go through consent forms, review your VECTRA preoperative photographs and give you prescriptions for before and after the procedure.

Lindsay will go over surgical instructions and give you a packet of information so when you leave this second appointment you will have everything you need for surgery.

How do I prepare for an otoplasty?

After meeting with Dr. Maloney and choosing a surgical date for your procedure, plan for your care and recovery after surgery. You will need to arrange a ride to and from the surgery center or office the day of surgery. Arrange for someone to stay with you for the first 24 hours after you go home. Plan to take 3 days to 2 weeks off after surgery, depending on the type of work you do (speak to Lindsay, the Clinical Coordinator, if you have questions and for additional information). If your employer requires paperwork for time off, please obtain it ahead of time and bring it to our office.

If you smoke, you must quit a minimum of 2 weeks before surgery. We suggest 6 to 8 weeks, but 2 weeks is the minimum. Smokers heal more slowly and may have wound healing problems. Smoking may require modifications to the surgical plan.

If you take aspirin or other medications that may cause bleeding, stop taking them 3 weeks before surgery because it causes increased bleeding and therefore more bruising. If you take diet pills (prescription or over-the-counter) or Metformin (a common diabetes medication), stop 1 week before surgery to avoid anesthesia risks. All medications, herbs, vitamins and dietary supplements you are taking should be carefully reviewed with Dr. Maloney prior to surgery. If you are under the care of a physician for any health issues, we may require surgical clearance from your physician and/or cardiologist.

At your pre-operative consultation with Dr. Maloney you will be given your prescriptions. Get these prescriptions filled before surgery so they are at home when you need them. Pick up some bags of frozen peas or corn to use as icepacks after your procedure and a workout headband to use during your recovery. You need to stay hydrated, so have plenty of water or sports drinks at home. Begin taking an over-the-counter stool softener because narcotic pain medication and anesthesia can make you constipated.

If you choose to have surgery at the surgery center

The morning of surgery you may not have anything to eat or drink after midnight, including water. Do not wear any lotions, deodorant or make-up on the day of surgery. Do not wear any jewelry to the surgery center.

Wear comfortable clothes that are easy to put on and take off. A shirt that zips or buttons up the front is preferable, as are loose workout pants or sweat pants. Bring your photo ID to check in to the surgery center. You will check in and then be taken back to the preoperating area where Dr. Maloney will discuss the surgical plan, answer any additional questions you have and mark the surgery site. You will also meet the anesthesiologist and may ask him/her any questions you have.

If you choose to have your procedure in the office

You will take your prescribed medication 1 hour before surgery. You will need someone to drive you to and from your procedure because of the medications you will be taking. When you arrive, you will be brought to the procedure room where Dr. Maloney will mark the surgical site and make final preparations for the procedure. You will then relax on the surgical table and we will clean your ears with a pre-surgical scrub. Sterile towels will be placed around the surgery area and Dr. Maloney will begin the operation.

How is an otoplasty performed?

The surgery takes 1 to 2 hours depending on what needs to be done to the ears. After numbing medication is injected, Dr. Maloney will make an incision along the back of the ear. From here, he can fix the asymmetry, malformation or protrusion by making adjustments to the skin and cartilage. Dissolvable sutures and a dressing will be applied. After a few minutes at the office or 1 hour at the surgery center, you will be ready to go home.

What should I expect after an otoplasty?

You will wear a compression dressing over your ear(s) to minimize swelling and bruising. You may ooze some fluid from the incisions onto your dressing, but this is normal. Sleep with your head elevated for the first few days to help minimize swelling. Rest and eat a healthy, high-protein diet to speed up recovery. Drink plenty of fluids, avoid alcohol and refrain from smoking. All surgeons recommend early and frequent ambulation after surgery to reduce the risk of blood clot formation in the legs and to speed up recovery. Your ears will be swollen after surgery and you may have some bruising. It takes about 3 weeks to see results, so be patient during the healing process. You may remove your dressings and shower 1 to 3 days after surgery, depending on what the office staff advises. At this time, you can use a workout headband for compression instead of the bulky dressing. You will return to the office for your first postoperative exam 1 to 3 days after surgery. A low-grade fever is not unusual after any surgical procedure. If you have any questions during the recovery phase, please call our office any time, day or night.

What are the benefits of an otoplasty?

After the procedure your ears will be more symmetrical, pinned back into a more “normal” position and any malformations will be corrected. For both children and adults this may be a great boost to their self-confidence.

What are the risks of an otoplasty?

Otoplasty has both aesthetic and health risks, and it is your personal decision whether the benefits outweigh those risks. Common risks include scarring, bleeding, infection, asymmetry, excessive firmness, or changes in skin sensation. There are also more uncommon, complicated risks such as deep-vein thrombosis for a patient who chooses to go to sleep. For a full list of risks, go to plasticsurgery.org.