Otoplasty, also known as cosmetic ear surgery, is a procedure to change the shape, size, or position of the ears. Otoplasty can make a more natural appearance while bringing balance and proportion to the ears and face. Correction of even minor deformities can have profound benefits to appearance and self-esteem.


If your ear or ears are misshapen due to an injury or birth defect or you are bothered by how far your ears stick out from your head, you might choose to have otoplasty. Otoplasty can be done at any age after the ears have reached their full size, usually after age 5, through adulthood. Otoplasty will not alter your ability to hear and it is typically done on both ears to optimize symmetry.

Benefits of Otoplasty

  • It corrects a number of problems: The most common reason for getting otoplasty is to correct certain issues. Cosmetic and reconstructive ear surgery is utilized in treating a variety of deformities, including folded, cupped, protruding, cauliflower, small, and very large ears.
  • It’s a relatively safe procedure: Today, ear surgery is one of the safest kinds of surgeries across the entire medical field. Very few cosmetic surgeries offer the diminished risk that otoplasty provides while giving great results overall.


  • Patients can regain their confidence: Studies illustrate that people with unusual-looking ears have considerably lower self-esteem and confidence. When the ears are prominent, imbalanced, or excessively small or large, they’re often a common target of teasing and bullying. Fortunately, otoplasty can permanently correct those issues and renew people’s confidence level.
  • It makes people feel normal again: Victims of bullying and teasing will no longer endure being mocked at, and can better focus on school or work. Once the healing process is complete and bandages are removed, many patients feel an intense sense of emotional release and a true sense of normalcy.

 What Can Otoplasty Treat?

  • Protruding ears occurring on one or both sides in varying degrees
  • Overly large ears, a condition called macrotia
  • Ears without folds and creases
  • Cup or lop ear
  • Adult dissatisfaction with previous ear surgery


Who is a Good Candidate for Otoplasty?

People who are good candidates for ear surgery are:

  • Healthy individuals without medical conditions that can impair healing or untreated chronic ear infections
  • Those with a positive outlook and specific goals in mind for ear surgery
  • Nonsmokers

What Can You Expect?

Before the procedure

Otoplasty begins with a consultation with the cosmetic surgeon. At your consultation, the surgeon will evaluate your health, discuss your medical history, make recommendations, and explain the otoplasty procedure. The exact surgical techniques used to perform otoplasty vary depending on the condition being treated and your desired results. So the surgeon examines the condition, shape, and size of the ears and decide on the best surgical technique to achieve the surgery’s goal.


If you decide to go ahead with the procedure, the surgery will be scheduled and photos will be taken to document the process. You should avoid taking aspirin, ibuprofen, or other anti-inflammatory painkillers for at least two weeks before the surgery takes place. It is also important to follow any other instructions given by the surgeon about preparing for the procedure.

The procedure can be performed either under sedation and local anesthesia or general anesthesia. The surgery will take approximately 2-3 hours. The incision is usually made in the back of the ear where it is not noticeable.

During the procedure

 Otoplasty generally involves:

  • making one small incision behind the ear to expose the ear cartilage
  • removing small pieces of cartilage if necessary
  • scoring and stitching the remaining structure into the desired shape and position


The surgeon will make an incision on the back of your ear or within the inner creases of your ears. After making incisions, he/she might remove, trim, or cut excess cartilage or skin until the desired shape and size are achieved and then will fold the cartilage into the proper position and secure it with internal stitches. Additional stitches will be used to close the incisions.

After the procedure

After the procedure is complete, bandages will be placed around your head for protection and support. You will likely feel some itching and discomfort so pain medication will be prescribed. You will be given specific instructions that may include how to take care of your ears following surgery, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.


Following the surgeon’s instructions is key to the success of your surgery. It is important that the incisions are not subjected to excessive force, sunlight, or motion during the time of healing.

To keep pressure off your ears, you should avoid sleeping on your side. Please try not to rub or place excessive force on the incisions and consider wearing shirts with loose-fitting collars or button-down shirts.

A few days after otoplasty, the dressings that support the new shape of the ear during initial phases of healing are removed. You will need to wear a loose headband that covers your ears at night for two to six weeks.

Recovery will vary from patient to patient, but most children can go back to school after a week and most adults can return to work within 5-6 days.


Pre-Operative Instructions

  • Avoid any aspirin, aspirin-containing products or ibuprofen for two weeks prior to and two weeks following your surgery. If you are on any medications that affect bleeding, notify your doctor immediately.
  • Refrain from tobacco products and alcohol for two weeks prior and three weeks following surgery. Delayed wound healing, persistent skin redness, and other complications may persist when tobacco and alcohol are not discontinued.
  • Notify your doctor of all routine medications and your health history.
  • You will be given prescriptions for use before and after surgery at your pre-operative appointment.
  • Get your prescriptions filled a few days in advance to take after surgery.
  • Take 1500 mg of vitamin C, which helps promote healing.
  • Make arrangements for someone to drive you home after your surgery and stay with you that evening.

Day of Surgery

  • You may not eat or drink anything including water, tea, or coffee after midnight the evening before the surgery unless instructed otherwise.
  • Wash face and hairline with antibacterial shampoo. Do not apply creams or make-up and do not use hair styling products.
  • Do not wear jewelry of any sort or bring valuables to surgery.
  • Wear comfortable clothing such as a zip-up or button up shirt and slip on shoes. Do not wear anything that needs to be pulled over your head.


Post-Operative Instructions

  • After arriving home from the clinic or hospital, avoid heavy solid foods the rest of the day.
  • Be sure to drink enough water following surgery, as dehydration can contribute to nausea.
  • Sleep with your head elevated or use two to three pillows for the first two weeks postop.
  • Avoid foods that require much chewing. Soft foods may be easier to eat.
  • Walking every hour or two needs to start when you get home from surgery. This helps to prevent blood clots from develop in the legs.
  • Avoid heavy lifting (over 20 pounds), bending over at the waist, heavy aerobics, weight lifting, and sexual activity for at least 10-14 days after surgery.
  • You may return to regular exercise 3 weeks after surgery.
  • Strenuous exercise or contact sports should be avoided for at least 6 weeks.
  • Refrain from showering for the first 7days after surgery. You will be allowed to take a shower on the morning of postoperative day 7 prior to your follow-­up appointment
  • Bathing is ok as long as you do not get your incisions and hair wet.
  • Hair coloring needs to wait until all incisions have been healed without drainage for a minimum of one week.


Notify Your Doctor If You Have:

  1. A fever over 101.5 degrees which persists despite increasing the amount of fluid you drink and acetaminophen. A person with a fever should drink approximately one cup of fluid each waking hour.
  2. Persistent pain which is not relieved by the pain medication you were prescribed.
  3. Significant ear swelling, especially over the size of a grape.
  4. Increased redness around the incision (a few millimeters of redness around the incision is normal).
  5. Drainage from the wound.
  6. Significant bleeding from the incisions that does not respond to 10 minutes of direct but gentle pressure.
  7. Nausea and vomiting that persists after 24 hours from surgery.


What Are the Risks of Otoplasty?

Possible ear surgery risks include:

  • Bleeding
  • Hematoma
  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Asymmetry in ear placement
  • Problems with stitches
  • Changes in skin sensation
  • Skin discoloration
  • Pain, which may persist
  • Possibility of revision surgery


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