When children reach the age of seven they begin to become more aware of how their body looks and more concerned about their appearance. For children or adults, otoplasty surgery can create normal anatomy that failed to develop properly.
Certainly, correction of prominent ears can make a dramatic difference to patients. We do prominent ears from four years up. It’s really when kids become about seven they become body conscious and start to get teased. The so-called bad ears or the prominent ears, again, from marked prominence to very marked prominence, but they can be a great source of teasing for kids. That’s the reason we really start at four before they go to school, before they start getting teased, and be psychologically affected by it. Having said that, I’ve had sixty year olds come to have their prominent ears done who’ve hated their ears their whole life. There’s a whole pile of people in between that. Prominent ears are really a manifestation of the ear not quite making it across the finishing line. The last thing that happens with the ear is the fold on the outside of the ear forms. People with prominent ears have that fold absent usually or deficient, and that makes the ear look deep with a deep bowl and sticks out from the side of the head. What we’re trying to do with a prominent ear correction is recreate normal anatomy. We go in behind the ear; the scars are all behind the ear. We come through the cartilage. We score the cartilage and wick it, refold it back into the normal fold or as close to the normal fold as we can do. We suture it in that position and we hold it back, and we remove excess skin from behind the ear. The idea is not to plaster the ear beside the side of the head. The idea is to bring the ear back into a normal plane beside the head, so the ears don’t stick out. That can certainly make significant differences to people who . . . you find young males who get their hair cut for the first time. They’re used to having long hair just to cover their ears. Girls will do the same thing, cover their ears and be paranoid to a point where, I’ve had a girl who couldn’t go for a waitressing job because of a requirement that she had her hair pulled back as part of the job, and she wanted to get her ears fixed so that she could work as a waitress in this particular shop. Again, as with all sort of cosmetic or plastic surgery, these little things can vary significantly affect people’s lifestyle and their perception of themselves and how they interact with normal society. This is not a particularly painful operation at all. When the patient is asleep, we certainly put long-acting local anesthetic in which will last for up to twenty four hours. We universally do it as day surgery. Patients do have a head bandage on. Certainly, you may have some bruising and swelling with your ears for at least a couple of weeks. I would generally have you with the head bandage on for five or six days. So, you won’t be very socially presentable, but certainly you’re functionally normal. You’ll be on your computer working the next day. It’s always done as day surgery. It is considered a medical procedure no matter what age you are, so there are Medicare item numbers associated with it. And certainly, you can get rebates if you’re in a private health fund.