Otoplasty Aftercare

Immediate Recovery after Ear Surgery

Otoplasty is safely performed as an outpatient procedure. After completion of the ear plastic surgery, you will stay within the facility (usually the plastic surgeon’s office) for one hour. Because the procedure was not performed under general anesthesia (except for young children), the recovery is usually relatively easy without nausea or vomiting. At the completion of the surgery, the surgeon will place a head bandage which covers both ears. This bandage is usually bulky and somewhat tight and can be uncomfortable. This dressing is important for a speedy recovery though and a compromise of the bandage is not advisable. Once the patient feels comfortable and the vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate etc) are within normal range, the patient will be discharged home accompanied by a responsible adult.

Otoplasty Care at Home – the First Night

You should have a companion with you for the first 24 hours after the ear cosmetic procedure. Resting and relaxing is important, this is not the time to entertain or having to care for others. Although there are no dietary restrictions, we recommend light meals for the first night. Keeping the head elevated above the level of the heart is beneficial and limits puffiness and bruising. The ears will be sore and the bandage can be bothersome. Understanding the importance of this dressing allows our patients to tolerate it well. You will receive prescriptions for pain medications and antibiotics. Most patients take advantage of the prescription pain medications for the first day or two – after this, most people switch to over-the-counter Tylenol.

Removal of the Bandage

The first bandage will be removed in the office. Although not painful, patients describe it as a sensation of “taking off a helmet”. The ears will be inspected for appropriate healing progress. Although the position of the auricle will be already improved, the normal puffiness and bruising may prevent you from appreciating the overall result: After one day it is not more than a pre-view. A second, lighter and less uncomfortable bandage will be applied in the office. Although the ears will feel better, they are still sore at this point. The second dressing stays for one more day before it is removed.

Ear Plastic Surgery Recovery – the First Week

The lighter bandage will stay for one additional night. You (or a family member) can remove it at home. Now is the time to take your first shower after the procedure. Washing your hair carefully will improve your overall comfort as the head may start itching. Washing your hair with a mild baby shampoo is recommended and will not interfere with the healing progress. You will apply antibiotic ointment into the ear creases – three times daily for the first 3 days. Because of the initial swelling of the ears and surrounding skin, you will not be able to apply the ointment directly onto the sutures; your body’s temperature will melt the ointment and it will distribute itself. Then you will apply a sports headband day and night to complete the first week. Initially, you may want to cover the ears with a thin gauze pad to prevent soiling of the athletic sweat band. Keep in mind that the ears will be numb at this early point in the recovery, so care should be taken not to cause undue friction between ear skin and the headband cover. Therefore, we recommend you purchase a wide enough and soft headband in preparation of the ear plastic surgery. The puffiness will decrease day by day which will make the application of ointments into the ear crease easier. After 3 days of antibiotic ointment you will switch to Vaseline or Aquaphor ointment instead. We also recommend daily tepid warm showers to keep the ear clean and hygienic.

One Week after Your Otoplasty Procedure

You will return for a follow up visit after one week. Suture removal is usually not necessary as most stitches are absorbable. The ears will look pretty good by now, although healing is still not complete. The overall improved ear shape and position can now be appreciated despite small amounts of puffiness remain. The ears will still feel insensate although some early tingling sensations may appear. After one week, the headband can be left off for parts of the day but will be re-applied at night time for an additional 2 weeks. Return to school, work and private life is usually possible after 7 to 10 days. Strenuous activities such as sports and heavy lifting need to wait for a total of 2 weeks after the ear surgery when a slow return into physical exercise can be initiated.

The doctor will see you back after 6 weeks at which point the virtual final result can be appreciated. Small amounts of changes though may occur up until 12 months after the otoplasty procedure.

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