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Bilateral otoplasty is a cosmetic procedure performed on both ears in order to reduce natural protrusion of the ears and make them flush with the sides of the head. Bilateral otoplasty is the medical term for ear pinning in order to correct the size or placement of the ears in order to make them more proportional to the face and visually pleasing. Bilateral operation is a safe procedure that is often performed on young patients between the ages of four and fourteen. Many surgeons recommend that bilateral otoplasty be performed on a child who is four of five, as this is the period when most ear growth is complete and the child has yet to begin school.
The bilateral otoplasty procedure is done on an outpatient basis with a local anesthetic and a sedative. A surgeon may choose to use a general anesthetic if s/he feels that the patient would benefit most from sleeping though the procedure. During a bilateral otoplasty, the surgeon will make an incision in the fold behind the ear. The surgeon will then remove cartilage and skin in order to make a pleasing ear shape. Next s/he will pin the modified parts to existing structures of the ear in order to keep them in place. Stitches will be used to secure the ear for proper healing after the bilateral otoplasty procedure.
After a bilateral otoplasty, the patient will be advised to get an adequate amount of sleep and rest. Young children should be kept at a low level of activity. After the bilateral otoplasty, a surgeon will wrap a patient's ears with a pressure dressing that should not be touched until the doctor removes the dressing after the first week of recovery. Patients should be careful to keep the head elevated above the heart for the first week or so and refrain from sleeping on their sides. Regular exercise can be resumed one month after bilateral otoplasty surgery, and contact sports can usually commence after six weeks.
After a bilateral otoplasty, patients typically do not experience too much pain. It is normal for a patient to experience some swelling, discoloration, and drainage for the first week or so after bilateral otoplasty surgery. It is crucial that a patient refrain from touching the pressure dressing, as this can alter the results of bilateral otoplasty or lead to infection. After the dressing is removed, a patient can shower as normal and should wear a sweatband covering over his/her ears until the end of the sixth week of the post operative period. A surgeon may prescribe oral or topical medicines after a bilateral otoplasty surgery to optimize a patient's recovery.
In 2003, the average cost of bilateral otoplasty surgery was $2,762, though the cost can range depending on the doctor and a patient's geographic location. This average does not cover anesthesia, operating room, and other related bilateral otoplasty costs. Because bilateral otoplasty surgery is performed primarily for cosmetic purposes, it is not often covered by medical insurance. Most surgeons who perform bilateral otoplasty surgery have methods of payment to make this procedure more feasible for patients and families.
Side effects and complications from bilateral otoplasty surgery are extremely rare, and often the results of bilateral otoplasty are very satisfying to the patient.