Kids can be cruel. They seek out any abnormality and use it as fodder for mean jokes and incessant teasing. Ears are a common target on the playground. Whether they stick out too far, are too big, or are misshapen, bullies find a way to call them — and you — out in the most embarrassing ways.
Although adults may be more subtle, their words and looks can still hit you where it hurts. But you can put all that behind you after you choose to undergo otoplasty to correct the angle and symmetry of your ears.
Dr. Michael Macdonald, our double-board-certified cosmetic and facial plastic surgeon here at Aesthetic Surgery Center in San Francisco, California, believes that proper after care is critical to the final outcome of your otoplasty. Here are his guidelines for taking care of your ears post-op.
Mind your bandages
When you wake up after your otoplasty procedure, you’ll be wearing bandages. You may be tempted to remove them to have a peek at your “new” ears, but resist that urge. Those bandages protect your incisions from infection and keep your ears in the right position as they heal.
Keep your bandages clean and dry, and come back to see us if they become soiled or damaged.
Take it easy
There’s no lengthy downtime required following otoplasty, but you should plan to take it easy for the first few days after your surgery. Avoid strenuous activities, but on the third day after surgery, you should be going about your day as normal to keep blood circulating and the healing process moving forward.
No touching, rubbing, or scratching
It may go without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway: Keep your hands away from your ears. During the healing process, your incisions need to be undisturbed to establish strength and integrity. We understand that healing tissue sometimes gets itchy, but you must resist the temptation to rub or scratch your ears if you want to see the best results.
Keep your head up
If you’ve ever had a sprained ankle and had to prop it up to keep the swelling down, you know the benefit of elevation. Likewise, after otoplasty, it’s best to keep your head up to avoid inflammation. During the day, this is a no-brainer, but it may be more difficult at night.
Use a couple of pillows to ensure your head is higher than your heart, and avoid sleeping on your side for 3-4 weeks.
Wear your headband
About a week after your surgery, we remove your stitches and bandages, and you get your first look at Dr. Macdonald’s handiwork. Along with the new shape, size, and position of your ears, you can expect to still see some swelling and redness.
While you can finally ditch the bandages at this point, you need to protect your still-healing ears with a strap that resembles a sports headband. Wear this every night for the first month or two. Dr. Macdonald lets you know how long.
After otoplasty, your ears are numb for about 2-3 months. That’s good, because it means you feel no pain, but it also means you may not feel the effects of burning and frostbite. That’s why it’s important to only apply ice therapy (which decreases swelling) in short intervals and to avoid using hair dryers until the sensation in your ears returns.
You should also forego tanning or hanging out in the sun for the first few weeks. This is not only because your ears may get sunburned, but also because the sun can cause hyperpigmentation in your scar tissue.
If you have more questions about how to care for your ears after otoplasty or whether you or your child are good candidates for this procedure, schedule a consultation with Dr. Macdonald by calling our friendly staff or booking an appointment online today.