We all know that if your ears are a bit abnormal or protruding, they can distract from the overall presentation of your face. And if you’re not satisfied with the appearance of your ears, men can make as little or as significant a change with otoplasty surgery, a cosmetic procedure that involves improving the size, position, and overall appearance of your ears. So whether it’s the overall appearance of your ears, the angle where they rest on your head, their size, or just having trouble wearing everything from hats to headphones and earbuds, you might be a good candidate for otoplasty in Chicago.

Otoplasty is a cosmetic surgical procedure performed on the visible portion of the ear that usually involves changing their shape, position, or size. The surgery can be performed on men at any age after the ears have reached their full size. This is usually at age five, therefore children as young as five and above can receive otoplasty. The surgery is performed on the auricle (the visible portion of the ear) that’s comprised of folds of cartilage covered in skin. The auricle develops before birth, continuing after birth until roughly age five. There are different types of otoplasty: ear augmentation, ear pinning, and ear reduction.

Ear Augmentation is for individuals with small ears or ears that haven’t completely developed, who choose otoplasty to increase the size of the outer ear.

Ear Pinning is a type of otoplasty that involves drawing the ears closer to the head. This type of otoplasty is recommended for people whose ears stick out prominently from their heads.

Ear Reduction is recommended for people who suffer from “macrotia,” a condition where the ears are abnormally large. People with macrotia may choose this type to reduce the size of their ears.

All types of otoplasty procedures can be performed within a hospital or an outpatient surgical facility.

Before you begin your procedure, you’ll have a consultation with your plastic surgeon where you may be asked about your medical history, including past surgeries and any current or previous medications. You may also receive an examination where your surgeon will inspect your ears, take measurements and photographs, and discuss the procedure, its potential risks, and costs. The surgeon will also want to know your personal goals and expectations for the procedure. Feel free to ask questions and receive as much information as possible, including your surgeon’s experience and qualifications.

Otoplasty is typically an outpatient procedure, taking between one to three hours depending on the type of otoplasty you’re receiving and the overall complexities of the surgery. The patient may receive local anesthesia (a one-time injection that numbs the treatment area of sensation and the patient is awake) and a sedative, although, for children, general anesthesia is recommended.

Overall, otoplasty includes making an incision either on the back of the ear or within the inner folds of the ear. The tissue of the ear is then manipulated by removing skin and/or cartilage, folding and shaping cartilage with permanent stitches. Grafting of the cartilage to the ear may also be necessary for a successful procedure. Lastly, the incision is closed with permanent stitches.

After surgery, a dressing will be placed over your ears and your surgeon will instruct you on how to keep the dressing clean and dry. Your surgeon will prescribe a pain medication that you will be advised to take 24-72 hours after the procedure. If pain persists after 72 hours, you may take over-the-counter pain killers. It will be advised that you avoid touching and/or scratching your ears and sleep in a position where you aren’t resting on the sides of the head. The most critical healing time is exactly one week after the procedure, and the first few days after treatment, you will need to wear a bandage to protect your ears and prevent inadvertent injury. It may be advised that you wear a protective headband at night and for three weeks after the bandages are removed. Some stitches will dissolve on their own, others you may need to have removed by your surgeon.

Your surgeon might recommend that you take five to seven days off of work, and although there may be additional recovery time for several weeks, you can return to work within a week. The total recovery time after otoplasty surgery is about six weeks.