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Otoplasty (Ear Surgery)

Otoplasty is ear surgery designed to pin back protruding ears, or to reduce the size of large ears so that they are in better proportion to the rest of the face.  Otoplasty can also correct ear deformities from misshapen, damaged or missing ear elements.

Absence or major malformation of the ear is called microtia, which can also be treated at Facial and Cosmetic Surgery Center.

Most otoplasty patients are children between the ages of four, when the ear is fully grown, and fourteen.  Performing surgery at this young age has advantages in that the ear cartilage is very pliable and easily shaped.  And young children can avoid being teased, which has a great psychological benefit. The second largest category of otoplasty patients is women in their 20s and 30s.

Otoplasty for children is usually considered reconstructive rather than cosmetic surgery and is covered by most insurance policies.

Initial Visit

During a patient’s first visit, a full medical history will be taken. Physical examination will consider such factors as age, genetics, and elasticity of the ear cartilage. It is important at this time to discuss any pre-existing conditions, medications and prior surgeries. Many families like to bring a written set of questions to their first visit.

Surgical Procedures

There are two common otoplasty procedures. The first involves making an inconspicuous incision behind the ear, exposing the ear cartilage and re-positioning it closer to the head. In some cases, excess cartilage may be removed. To retain the new shape of the ear, non-removable sutures may be used.

In the second otoplasty procedure, excess skin is removed and the ear cartilage is folded back (none is removed). As with the first procedure, non-removable sutures are used to help the ear maintain its new shape. However, incisions are closed with dissolvable sutures.

Pre-Operative Instructions

Patients are required to avoid all aspirin products for two weeks prior to surgery, as products containing aspirin or ibuprofen increase the risk of bleeding.

Post-Operative Recovery

Immediately after surgery, a thick bandage is wrapped around the head to aid healing and maintain positioning of the ears. This will be exchanged for a smaller bandage and then a headband. Patients are advised to refrain from normal activity for a week and from sports for two weeks thereafter.

Oral medications may be prescribed for discomfort. There may be swelling for about a week which can be somewhat controlled by elevating the head at night. There may also be itching and headaches. Otoplasty involves one of the shortest recovery times of any plastic surgery procedure, and the results are immediately visible.

Surgical Risks

Post-operative otoplasty patients experience very few side effects. However, all surgical procedures carry inherent risks, such as the possibility of infection or hematoma (a collection of blood caused by leakage from broken blood vessels). Abnormal scar tissue formation is also a possibility resulting in a visible scar behind the ear. There may also be pain, itching and some degree of numbness along the incision line.


Otoplasty is a relatively simple procedure that carries great psychological and cosmetic benefits.  Our surgeons welcome patients and their families to come in to discuss otoplasty.