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Non-Cosmetic Reasons for Ear Surgery

Non-Cosmetic Reasons for Ear Surgery

Ear surgery, medically known as otoplasty, is a popular cosmetic procedure that reshapes the outer ear (pinna). According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in 2018, around 23,000 people opted to have their ears pinned back, reshaped, or resized. 

Because otoplasty is usually considered an elective, cosmetic surgery, most insurance companies won’t cover the cost. However, in some cases, otoplasty is medically necessary instead of cosmetic. If your reasons are medical, check with your insurance to see if they’ll pay.

At PNW Plastic Surgery, board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Leo Urbinelli and his team see many patients at their Portland, Oregon office looking for ear surgery for a variety of reasons. To help you understand how otoplasty can meet a medical need, they’ve put together this guide on a number of non-cosmetic reasons for undergoing the procedure.

What are non-cosmetic reasons for ear surgery?

There are a number of non-cosmetic reasons you might be looking for ear surgery.

Congenital deformities

If your ears protrude and you don’t like the way they look, cosmetic otoplasty can provide symmetry and balance to your face. If your ears protrude at a 40-degree angle or more, though, the condition may be considered a congenital deformity, which otoplasty can correct. Other ear deformities include:

In all cases, otoplasty can correct the deformity, giving the patient a more “natural” look.

Psychosocial stress

Childhood bullying is a major social issue, and children with any abnormally developed body part, including protruding or misshapen ears, are often the target of such harassment. Sure, we want our kids to learn to face their problems and overcome obstacles, but for many children, the incessant teasing leads to significant emotional and psychological stress that may cause lasting harm in the forms of depression or anxiety.

By correcting the offending abnormality, otoplasty can alleviate the psychosocial impact it has on children and increase their self-confidence and self-esteem.

Injury repair

Ear injuries can happen for any number of reasons, including falls, fights, and automobile accidents. Most outer ear injuries, though, come from playing contact sports — primarily football, wrestling, hockey, and boxing. 

Repeated blows damage the soft tissue of the ears and restrict blood flow, which produces a bumpy texture that looks like a head of cauliflower — hence the nickname “cauliflower ear.” If you leave the problem untreated, the ear cartilage can die from lack of blood and contract, with scar tissue closing over the ear canal. Otoplasty then becomes necessary to restore both form and function to the ear.

Hearing difficulties

Since most of sound processing occurs in the middle and inner parts of the ear, outer ear deformities rarely cause significant hearing impairment. However, the outer ear is responsible for gathering sound waves and channeling them into the ear canal. If the ear is deformed enough that it can’t gather and channel sound, an otoplasty may be necessary to improve hearing.

If you have a congenital ear deformity, or if you’ve injured your ear in any way, you may have a valid non-cosmetic reason to undergo ear surgery. To learn more about the procedure, and to see if you’re a good candidate, call PNW Plastic Surgery at 503-208-2348 to set up a consultation with Dr. Urbinelli, or book online with us today.

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