Ear Plastic Surgery (Otoplasty)

What is otoplasty?

Otoplasty is a cosmetic procedure to correct the size, shape or position of one or both ears, which may be deformed from birth, or be abnormally large (a condition known as macrotia) or damaged from an accident or injury. Having corrective surgery to make the ears well-shaped, symmetrical, and close to the head can make a tremendous difference in appearance and self-esteem for adults and children. Children with prominent or misshapen ears must wait for surgery until the ears have grown to full size, usually when the child is around five years old.

Risks of cosmetic ear surgery

Before having otoplasty, you will have an appointment with your doctor to review your medical history and discuss your reasons for wanting ear surgery. Your doctor will ask questions about any previous ear problems, such as ear infections. The doctor may also take photos and measurements of your ears. Most importantly, you will have a discussion about your expectations for ear surgery and what result you want to have. While otoplasty is a fairly common procedure, there are always surgical risks, such as:

  • Anesthesia problems
  • Infection
  • Overcorrection (ear placement can shift with healing)
  • Scarring*
  • Stitches working their way to surface

* People who have a history of keloid scarring may be particularly susceptible to scarring issues.

During the ear surgery procedure, the doctor makes small incisions within the creases of the ears and on the backs of the ears in order to remove cartilage and excess skin. Once the ears have been resized and shaped as needed, internal stitches are used to hold cartilage in place before the incision is closed with external stitches. Otoplasty is an outpatient procedure that takes about two hours.

After surgery, you will need someone to drive you home. You will wear bandages on your ears at first to protect them while they're healing. Your doctor may advise you to sleep on your back until your ears have healed. You may also experience some itching and discomfort for which you can take over-the-counter pain medication. After your bandages come off, you will see an immediate and permanent difference in your ears. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to get in touch with your doctor.


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