Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)
Ear surgery, or otoplasty, is procedure that places
the ears in a more aesthetically desired position. Typically,
this procedure is performed to correct protruding ears.
Ear surgery may also be performed to alter the shape
of the ear to create balance and harmony to the head.
Ear malformations, such as- lop ear, when the tip of
the ear folds down and forward; cupped ear, a very small
ear; shell ear, when the curve in the outer rim, as
well as the natural folds and creases, are missing;
large or stretched earlobes; and lobes with large creases
and wrinkles may be corrected through this surgical
procedure. Since the average person's ears are fully
developed by the age of four, this type of surgery is
most commonly performed on a child or adolescent.
How is ear surgery performed?
Surgical techniques for ear surgery will vary depending
on the problem you want to correct. One of the more
common techniques is for surgeons to make a small incision
in the back of the ear that exposes the cartilage. Your
surgeon will sculpt and shape the cartilage to the desired
position, and then bend it back toward your head. In
most cases, non-removable stitches will be used to maintain
your new shape. To provide a more natural looking ear
fold, your surgeon may remove a larger piece of cartilage
when the procedure is completed.
Another technique your surgeon may choose is to make
a smaller incision in the back of your ear. Skin is
removed, instead of cartilage, and stitches are then
used to fold the cartilage on to itself. This technique
pulls the ear back flat against your head and enables
your surgeon to reshape the ear without removing cartilage.
The technique your physician uses will depend on your
ear's current condition and the result you want to achieve.
In most cases, the surgery leaves a light scar on the
backside of your ear that will fade over time. To create
a more balanced appearance, surgeons will normally operate
on both ears even if only one ear is misshapen. Your
surgeon will evaluate your ears and speak with you about
the results you would like to achieve and recommend
the most effective technique.
How long does ear surgery take?
Ear surgeries generally take two to three hours to
perform. However, procedures that are more complicated
may take longer.
What type of anesthesia is used?
For ear operations performed on young children, general
anesthesia is normally used throughout the operation.
For older children and grown adults, surgeons will normally
use local anesthesia and a sedative, which will cause
you to be awake but very relaxed.
Where is the procedure performed?
In most cases, ear surgery is performed on an outpatient
basis (no overnight hospital stay is required) in a
hospital or surgical suite in your physician's office.
However, for more complicated procedures, your physician
may recommend that you plan to stay over night in a
hospital. Surgeons also may recommend that children
stay over night in a hospital even for simple procedures
until all the effects from general anesthesia completely
When can I return home and resume
You will need to avoid any physical activity that could
involve the bending of your ear for about a month. The
average adult should allow for about five days of recovery
before returning to work. Children should plan on spending
a quiet restful week away from school after ear surgery.
Even with a week off, children should be very careful
when returning to playground activities. It might be
wise to alert teachers to your child's condition so
they can provide closer supervision.
How do I prepare for ear surgery?
During your initial consultation, your surgeon will
discuss the changes that you would like to make to your
appearance. Since the appearance of your ears is a matter
of personal perception and preference, you will need
to discuss your concerns in detail so your surgeon can
determine the appropriate alternatives. If you are considering
this surgery for a child, most surgeons recommend that
parents do not insist on the surgery until the child
desires the change. You also should make arrangements
ahead of time for someone to drive you to and from your
procedure and to assist you with your daily activities
during your recovery period.
Prior to your surgical procedure, the surgeon will
perform a complete health history and physical. Knowledge
of your allergies, medications and previous surgeries
should be brought to your surgeon's attention at this
time. Specific instructions to assist you in preparing
for this procedure will be given to you after the health
history and physical is complete. Depending on your
individual health status, the instructions may include
guidelines regarding your diet, alcohol intake, smoking
and which medications to take or avoid. Your experience
will be much smoother if you remain compliant with your
What precautions are necessary during
You should be able to be up and around a few hours
after your ear surgery. To promote healing and help
maintain the new shape your surgeon has sculpted, your
head will wrapped in a bulky bandage. You may experience
some pain and throbbing in your ears for a few days.
However, your surgeon should be able to provide you
with medication that minimizes any discomfort. For certain
procedures, your surgeon may place a drain in your ear
that can usually be removed after one day.
After one month, your head bandage will be replaced
with a lighter head dressing that is similar to a headband.
Your surgeon will provide you with specific directions
about how long you must wear this dressing and how to
manage it while you sleep. After about a week, your
stitches will be removed or be dissolved, depending
on the style of stitching your surgeon has chosen. Your
surgeon will provide you with more specific recommendations
and directions for your individual recovery.
What are the possible complications
after ear surgery?
Complications from ear surgery are infrequent and minor
when performed by a qualified, experienced surgeon.
However, as with any surgical procedure, there are certain
potential risks and complications. One potential complication
is the formation of a blood clot under the skin of the
ear. Fortunately, this occurs in only a small percentage
of patients. The clot may naturally dissolve or be withdrawn
through a needle. Another complication is an infection
that may develop in the ear cartilage. This may result
in the formation of scar tissue. Antibiotics are the
usual course of treatment, although surgical drainage
may be required. It is always important to be informed
about the possible complications before any surgery.
Be sure to discuss any concerns you may have with your
What results can I expect after ear
When you return home from your surgery, you will want
to have someone with you for at least the first 12 hours
as you begin your recovery period. Your ears will be
somewhat sore and you may still be feeling the effects
of the anesthesia, whether it is local or general. For
the long term, your expectations should be realistic.
The goal of your operation should be great improvement,
but not perfection. The ears average of an average person
are not an exact match, so don't expect the symmetry
of your ears to be picture-perfect after your surgery.
However, with realistic goals, you can expect your ear
surgery to produce dramatic, pleasing results that last
an entire lifetime.
Choosing the right surgeon
To obtain further information regarding ear surgery,
we advise you to consult with a qualified and experienced
board-certified plastic surgeon. Regardless of the type
of procedure you are considering, it is crucial to choose
the right surgeon for your individual goals. To receive
a complimentary consultation with a specialist in your
area, simply fill out our Online
Referral Form or call Toll