Ear deformities and ear prominence can be extremely anxiety provoking in young children, particularly with the everyday fear of bullying that children may be subjected to. Teenagers and adults certainly feel the same level of anxiety that may cause them to lose confidence with their own appearance.
Countless YouTube videos, blog posts and pinterest pages exist that teach people hairstyles to cover their ears. These posts have been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people and have significant followings, a sad statement about how self conscious people can get about their ears. Many young female patients of mine have described situations that provoke panic for them including the thought of having to put their hair up for a formal event or thinking about wearing a pony tail at the gym. These are heart breaking descriptions of situations that should would otherwise be happy, joyous and comfortable.
Ears are beautiful and unique, they mark the sides of our heads and faces and should make us feel comfortable and proud. They help us harness sound and listen to music and our loved ones. Each of us has a unique set of ears with artistic folds, bends, turns and sizes that set us apart and can let us show the world who we are.
When we feel that our ears do not match our faces, we can get self conscious. But when we feel that our ears look fantastic we display them proudly with piercings, jewelry and hair styles that show them off! No one should have to feel self conscious about their ears. That is why I have taken a keen interest in being one of a unique handful of surgeons all over the world with an expertise in cosmetic and reconstructive ear surgery.
I have been privileged to have created ears for patients born without them (microtia and anotia) all over the world, using their own rib cartilage to sculpt them an ear. I have also been privileged to be at the forefront of ear molding technologies for newborn babies. Ear molding helps make sure that newborns with prominent ears and other such cosmetic deformities can avoid the need for cosmetic surgery when they are older by setting their ears into place in the first weeks of life, without any surgical intervention. I recently had the opportunity to lecture on these cutting edge treatments while presenting to surgeons at the American Academy for Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery 12th International Symposium in Dallas, Tx. This was attended by Facial Plastic Surgeons from all over the world who were encouraged to learn these skills and apply them within their practices.
Finally, otoplasty or ear pinning surgery is one of the most common cosmetic ear procedures that I perform. This is one of the most satisfying surgeries that can be performed because it does such a great deal in helping patients feel like they do not have to hide a part of themselves. I have performed this surgery on patients as young as age 5 and adults of all ages. It is a surgery that hides all incisions behind the ears, where they are not visible and helps to create the natural curves of the antihelix, which is often missing in prominent ears. It also works to move the excessive conchal cartilage back towards the head where it is more typically located without removing any of the natural cartilage. It is a very artistic procedure that requires a great deal of knowledge of the ear and its unique anatomy. I use a suture technique that folds the patients ears into their appropriate position so that no cartilage has to be removed. Subtle changes in the position of the ear make a tremendous difference in appearance and self confidence, as can be seen in the images on our website (Link to ears section) . The black arrow depicts the location of the helix or the rim of the ear far away from the head whereas the red arrow shows the helix closer to the head after surgery from an oblique view. Similarly, the black diamond shows an ear that is lacking a bend (called the antihelix) and the red diamond shows that same patients ear with the subtle bend of the antihelix present which allows the ear to sit back.
It is my hope as a double board certified Facial Plastic & Reconstructive surgeon and Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeon that I can continue to do more to make people feel great about their ears and never to have to visit sites that teach them to style their hair in a way that covers their ears.
Posted on behalf of Joseph J. Rousso, MD, FACS