It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or an adult, people can be quite cruel or downright rude if you have ears that protrude from your head more than the average person. Whether you’re a parent considering ear surgery for your young child so that he or she doesn’t have to deal with playground teasing or names like “Big Ears” or “Dumbo,” or an adult who’s finally considering otoplasty after years of living with teasing, it helps to know what to expect after the surgery is over.
Typically, the initial recovery from otoplasty takes about a week or two. After that you’ll still want to avoid certain activities. Making certain adjustments to your lifestyle and habits might also be required for some time after the surgery. Here’s a quick look at what you might need to change as you recover from otoplasty.
Wait to Wash Your Hair
You’ll need to adjust your hair care routine during the initial phase of recovery after ear surgery. Typically, it’s recommended that you wait at least a week before you shampoo your hair following surgery. Waiting at least a week allows time for the dressing and any bandages or drains to be removed.
When you are able to wash your hair again, start out using a very mild or gentle product, such as baby shampoo. You might want to skip blow drying your hair as the heat from the dryer can irritate your healing ears. If you can’t skip the hair dryer, use it on the coolest setting possible.
It’s also a good idea to postpone any major styling treatments until several weeks after your surgery. If you usually dye your hair or have any other chemical treatments performed, wait at least three weeks, if not longer, before you schedule your treatment following surgery. You’ll also want to avoid any hats, hair clips or other styling gear that can irritate or interfere with the healing area for several weeks.
Wait to Play Sports
If your child is on the football team, soccer team or plays another contact sport, he or she will be able to resume playing at some point after the ear surgery but not right away. Typically, it’s recommended that any patient avoid vigorous exercise for at least four weeks following the surgery. When your child gets the all-clear to start playing again, his or her surgeon might advise wearing a special headband to protect the ears from injury or from being knocked for at least three months.
One way to avoid having ear surgery conflict with a sports schedule is to have the procedure performed during the off-season. If your child plays football in the fall, schedule otoplasty for the winter or spring so that he or she will have time to fully heal before practice begins for the season. Depending on timing, it might be ideal to have your child skip a season or to schedule the surgery before he or she joins a sports team.
Wear Button Downs
You may also have to change the clothing you wear during the initial recovery period after surgery. Pulling T-shirts and sweaters on over your head can upset the healing ears or disrupt your incisions. It’s usually recommended that you switch to shirts that button up the front while waiting for your ears to heal.
Change Your Sleeping Position
As your ears heal, you might find it rather unpleasant to sleep on your side or to put any pressure on your ear at night. It’s a good idea to get used to sleeping on your back, at least until your ears have sufficiently healed. If your child is the one who had the surgery, it’s a good idea to check in on him or her throughout the night to make sure that he or she hasn’t rolled over onto the ears.
Your surgeon will also most likely recommend sleeping with your head propped up after surgery. Elevating the head will help to keep swelling to a minimum.
Pull Your Hair Back
During the initial recovery, you might not want to wear your hair back in a ponytail. Once you’ve fully healed, however, you might find that you finally have the confidence needed to show off your ears. If you’ve spent years covering them up with your hair, now’s your chance to get a haircut, wear a ponytail or braid, or to sweep your hair back with a headband. One of the major goals of otoplasty is to improve how you feel about your ears and to give you the confidence to show them off and to choose styles that reflect who you are.
In West Palm Beach, Florida, Dr. Michael Schwartz performs ear surgery on patients of all ages, young and old. To learn more about the procedure, the recovery period, and to see if it’s the right call for you or for your child, call 561-228-5888 to schedule a consultation today.