Ear surgery, also known as otoplasty, is a time-honored, routine, and very popular cosmetic procedure. About 23,000 people a year get their ears resized, reshaped, or pinned back to improve their appearance.
Insurance companies typically don’t cover elective surgeries like otoplasty, but there are some conditions that may make them — and you — consider otoplasty a medical necessity. Of course, every insurance company and policy is different, so if you’re considering ear surgery, it’s important to check with your provider before proceeding.
To learn the difference between cosmetic and medical otoplasty, come see Dr. Robert A. Guida, our double-board certified plastic surgeon. He performs otoplasty for patients throughout Staten Island and New York City, New York, for a variety of reasons, including the following noncosmetic issues.
If you don’t like the look of your protruding ears, cosmetic otoplasty can restore symmetry and balance to your face. But if you were born with extremely prominent ears that protrude at a 40-degree angle or more, it may be considered a congenital deformity. Other types of ear deformities include:
- Stahl’s ear: a pointed ear caused by an extra fold of cartilage
- Cupped ear: the top rim is too small or tight
- Mictoria: unusually small ear
- Cryptotia: top part of ear hidden under a fold of scalp skin
- Anotia: no ear
Although the surgical procedures to correct these deformities are typically more complex than a routine otoplasty for protruding ears, they all constitute noncosmetic otoplasty.
Children who suffer from any abnormally developed body part, such as protruding or misshapen ears, often find themselves the target of playground bullies. While there’s value in learning to face adversity and overcome life’s obstacles, for many, the pressure is too great. The incessant teasing subjects children to significant emotional and psychological stress that can lead to depression, anxiety, and in at least one extreme case, homicide.
Otoplasty can reshape and reposition abnormal ears to prevent merciless teasing and the psychosocial impact it has on children.
Ear injuries can happen to anyone involved in an accident. Lacerations, hematomas, contusions may occur in a car crash, a fist fight, or even a fall. But most outer ear injuries that warrant otoplasty happen in the sports arena — namely football, hockey, wrestling, and boxing.
Repeated blows to the ears damage the soft tissue and restrict blood flow to the area. In most cases, this creates a bumpy texture on the ear that resembles a head of cauliflower, giving it’s descriptive nickname “cauliflower ear.” Small incisions that drain the blocked blood can typically resolve this, but if the problem goes untreated, your ear cartilage may die and contract, and scar tissue may close over the ear canal. Otoplasty may be necessary to restore the form and function of the ear.
While outer ear deformities rarely cause significant hearing impairment, severe issues can definitely interfere. The outer ear, called the auricle, performs the first stage in the hearing process, gathering the sound waves around you and funneling them into your ear canal.
While most of the heavy lifting of hearing occurs in the middle and inner ear, if the sound waves never make it past the auricle, the function is limited.
In extreme cases of auricle deformity, otoplasty may be required to improve hearing.
Is otoplasty right for you?
To undergo otoplasty, Dr. Guida insists that you are in good general health, have realistic expectations of the outcome, and are at least four years old. Whether you were born with an ear deformity or acquired one, you may have a valid noncosmetic reason to choose otoplasty.
To learn more, schedule an appointment with Dr. Guida today. Call us at either of our two New York locations, or book an appointment online.