Remember the beginning of the pandemic when we thought wearing masks would last for two weeks? Remember seeing everyone in masks and then the government telling people they can remove their masks if they are vaccinated? Well, with the coronavirus still in full swing, and mask wearing continuously implemented (thanks to the rapid spreading of new variants), otoplasty (ear) surgery has been steadily rising.
Doctors, experts, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have encouraged people to wear higher-quality face mask or layer masks to increase effectiveness. But with this comes another set of stretchy elastic ear loops that can cause discomfort. I’ve seen this firsthand on long-haul flights from NY to LA. Rest assured this soreness is not unusual, especially if you are wearing your mask for long extended periods of time. The truth is, masks have the tendency to pull ears forward, making prominent ears even more prominent or making you conscious of your ears.
What is Otoplasty?
Plastic surgeons are routinely hearing more and more unhappy patients who are complaining about the shape and size of their ears from mask wearing while at work, exercising, or running errands. The procedure itself, otoplasty, puts the patient under local anesthesia and performs a hidden incision in the crease behind the ear — reshaping the ear.
When this is happening the ear is brought closer to the head and makes a larger or bent-out-of-shape ear smaller and more inline. The procedure requires a full week’s recovery.
Thanks to the increased amount of time in the mirror, on Zoom, or social media — fine line, wrinkles, sagging skin, forward or exaggerated ears have become some people’s reality. And otoplasty is the saving grace to correct one or both ears into a satisfying (relative) appearance.
Tips to avoid surgery
If you tend to feel pain while wearing a mask and want to avoid otoplasty surgery, try the below steps.
- Don’t force the double-mask: The main thing with mask wearing is the quality of the mask instead of the quantity. Aka, if the soreness is troubling you and making your ears feel uneasy, take it off. You’d rather be protected from the virus than negating all safety and wearing your mask incorrectly due to discomfort concerns.
- Give your ears a break: You could try to wear a paper mask with ear loops and then layer a cloth mask that ties behind the head — therefore avoiding tension.