Otoplasty, or ear surgery, can be performed by combining multiple techniques, depending on the problems. Therefore, consultation with a surgeon is extremely vital to assess the abnormality of the ears, decide upon the most appropriate procedures, and ensure that patients are satisfied with the outcomes. For example, the right and left ears may possess varying characteristics such as the protrusion angles, which may require different surgery techniques to correct them.
It is important to tailor otoplasty techniques to individuals. A problem most commonly found amongst Thai people is the protrusion of the ears. However, this problem is not as much of a stigma within Thai society as in some other countries, where parents seek otoplasty for their children because of extensive teasing from friends. Otoplasty can be performed for patients of all ages, and is normally performed on both ears. In some cases, it may only be necessary to perform the procedure on one ear only.
Attractive ears should possess the following characteristics:
- The curves on the ears should appear natural and not stand out
- The ears should not dominate the facial profile
- The helix, or the outer rolled-up part of the ear, should be visible when the face is viewed from the front. If otoplasty results in the anthelix, or the elevated ridge of cartilage in the middle of the ear, protruding out more than the helix, then the ear will have an unnatural appearance.
Selecting Otoplasty Techniques
Technique selection and surgery planning are vital parts of the consultation process. Once the surgeon assesses the ear problems and abnormalities, decisions can be made on which techniques are appropriate. Generally, the causes of protruding ears are:
- Anthelix that is too flat and pushes the ear to a too-wide angle
- The concha, the hollow part of the outer ear next to the canal, is either too large or too small
Ear protrusion can be caused by one or both of these reasons, but in most cases it is because of disfigured anthelix. Once the surgeon assesses the real cause behind the disfigurement, it will be possible to decide on the best way to correct it. For example, if the concha is too large, it can cause the ear to appear flat and the concha to stick out.
Aside from these 2 causes, patients must assess whether the protruding ear stems from only the earlobe and helix, or from other protruding angles as well. If so, then the appropriate corrective techniques may include suturing the earlobe and helix to sculpt a new appealing shape. If this problem is not corrected during the otoplasty procedure, patients may experience telephone ear problem.
Results and Side Effects
- In general, it is expected that after the surgery the ears should look beautiful and natural. A surgery that results in the ears being too folded or too close to the side of the head is considered unnatural and not aesthetically pleasing.
- If the ears are too folded, the anthelix will stick out. This may be caused by a too-large and too-deep concha. However, if the surgery does not focus on fixing the concha, then the ears will continue to be too folded.
- Telephone ear is caused by an imbalance of the bend of the cartilage in the ear.