Otoplasty is the word used in the medical profession for ear surgery. There are several approaches to ear surgery, and several reasons for going through with the procedure. Prospective clients that seek out a cosmetic surgeon are usually seeking ear surgery either because of ears that stick out, ears that are too large for the head they're on, or ears that are asymmetrical in appearance.
Cosmetic ear surgery is often performed on children. Ears grow to their mature size early; by the age of four a child with prominent ears is going to retain that feature without cosmetic surgery. In many cases parents are initially more aware of the child's prominent ears than the child is. Specialists caution that the procedure should be pursued when the child is ready and wants it. Playground teasing is often the catalyst for a child to agree to ear surgery.
For prominent ears the cosmetic surgeon works with the cartilage that shapes the ear, sculpting it and making the necessary adjustments to move to realign the ear alongside the head. A small incision on the back of the ear will give the cosmetic surgeon access to the cartilage structure, which can be bent back along the head and sutured into place.
Another technique for ear surgery is cutting along one side of a cartilage piece, leaving elastic tension on the other side. With this technique the cosmetic surgeon causes the cartilage piece to grow into alignment over time. An additional step may be realigning the earlobe with the newly positioned ear.
Cosmetic ear reduction surgery may involve several steps as well. One of the most common is making a similar incision behind the ear, folding the cartilage back upon itself and suturing it into place. With this procedure also, additional work may be needed to reduce the earlobe as well in order to match it with the surgically reduced ear.
These procedures can be performed under local anesthetic, local anesthetic with sedation, or general anesthesia. For children, general anesthesia is usually the choice. After the surgery, the ear will be wrapped in a bulky dressing in order to protect it during the initial healing process. There will be soreness and some swelling that should dissipate over a week to two week period.