One thing that always fascinates me about the face is its complexity. Although we tend to think of it as a single, unified area of the body, it is actually an extremely complex combination of different elements, including muscles, organs, bones, and cartilage, that all work together and complement one another. That is one of the many reasons why it has always been my philosophy of facial aging that small changes to specific facial features made gradually over time can achieve the most effective and natural looking facial plastic surgery results. One of the elements of the face that often goes ignored is the humble ear. Few realize that the size, shape and placement of the ears are vital not only for overall facial aesthetics, but also for several vital anatomical functions. Here are some fascinating things to consider about these often-overlooked features of facial architecture.
The outer portion of the ear, which is called the pinna or auricle, is made up almost exclusively of skin stretched tight over a flexible cartilage framework. The unusually scalloped shape of the pinna is extremely important, as it collects, amplifies, and guides sound waves down the ear canal so that they cause the eardrum to vibrate. Moreover, the twists and folds of the outer ear specifically enhance sounds with a pitch that is typical for a human voice, leaving other pitches unaffected. This has the effect of dampening background noise and helping the brain to focus on what we consider to be most important. Finally, the projection and location of the ears also play important roles in helping us to determine where sound is coming from. Sounds coming from the front or sides of the head are amplified, and sounds from the back are slightly muted. These tiny differences in volume, combined with minute variations in the time a specific sound reaches each of the two ears, allows us to deduce the location of the source of the sound.
The intricate and highly specialized shape of the pinna can potentially make any plastic surgery intended to change the appearance of the ears, or cosmetic otoplasty, very difficult. Whether a problem with the formation of the ear’s folds during fetal development causes the ears to protrude unnaturally far from the head, or the outer ears are damaged by repeated blunt trauma, as is the case with cauliflower ear, correcting the ear’s appearance requires a great deal of care and experience in order to preserve the outer ear’s functionality. As a board certified plastic surgeon and otolaryngologist (head and neck surgeon) I have written several professional articles on ear surgery and performed thousands of otoplasty procedures on both children and adults over the years. That experience and attention to detail has allowed me to consistently achieve extremely natural looking ear surgery results.
Whether you are an adult or a child, appearance can make a difference. However it is important to carefully balance aesthetics with functionality in order to ensure long-term satisfaction with your plastic surgery results. If you have any questions about cosmetic or reconstructive ear surgery or about any of the other facial plastic surgery procedures that I perform, please feel free to contact me, Dr. Fernando Burstein, to schedule an appointment for a full consultation so that we can discuss your particular needs. Don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest facial plastic surgery news.