Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)

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For many adults and children, having large ears leads to ridicule, poor adaptation to school, and/or extreme self-consciousness. Otoplasty is a procedure used to reduce large or protruding ears by setting the ears back closer to the head as well as molding, shaping, and/or removing cartilage.

Otoplasty can be performed at any age after the ears have reached (or nearly reached) their full size, which is around five to six years of age. This surgery is most often performed on children between the ages of five and 14.

If you're considering otoplasty, the following information will provide you with a good introduction to the procedure. For more detailed information about how this procedure may help you, we recommend that you consult a board-certified facial surgeon with experience in otoplasty.


* The 2010 national average cost of Ear Surgery is $3,048.

* One of the top five surgical procedures for men in 2010 was Cosmetic Ear Surgery.

Otoplasty is the medical term used to describe Ear Surgery procedure.








  1. What are some of the most common benefits of this surgery?
  2. How is this surgery performed?
  3. How long does the surgery take?
  4. Do I have to stay in the hospital?
  5. Will the operation affect my hearing?
  6. Will there be any visible scars?
  7. What can I expect after surgery?
  8. What is the recovery period like?
  9. What is the long-term outcome like for most people?
  10. Ideal candidate:
  11. Alternatives:
  12. Risks


What are some of the most common benefits of ear surgery?

Otoplasty can dramatically change a person's appearance simply by making protruding ears look more proportional to the head and face. This problem is often caused by an undeveloped middle fold of the ear. There may be other deformities as well, making it necessary to perform several procedures on the ear at the same time. Otoplasty can reshape the ears, reduce their size, make them more symmetrical, and/or position them closer to the head.

If you (or your child) are self-conscious about your ears, and always keep them covered with your hair, then this surgery can open up new possibilities for changing your appearance and your body image.

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How is otoplasty performed?

This procedure generally involves reforming the cartilages that shape the ears to pull them in and reduce the protrusion. Sutures (stitches) are placed in the cartilage on the back side of the ear to maintain the new position. Incisions and the resulting scars are well concealed on the back of the ear, so that there is no visible scarring.

Surgery begins with an incision just behind the ear, in the natural fold where the ear is joined to the head. The surgeon will then remove the necessary amounts of cartilage and skin required to achieve the right effect. In some cases, the surgeon will trim the cartilage, shaping it into a more desirable form and then pin it back with permanent sutures to secure its new position. In other instances, the surgeon will not remove any cartilage at all, using stitches to hold the cartilage permanently in place.

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How long does the surgery take?

Otoplasty generally takes about one to two hours per ear. The length of the procedure depends on the technique used and the amount of correction required. A  more realistic estimate can be given during your initial consultation.

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Do I have to stay in the hospital?

Probably not. The procedure is usually performed in a surgical suite as an outpatient procedure. You'll be able to return home within a few hours of the procedure. This sugery can be performed under local anesthetic, such as that used by most dentists; however, most surgeons advise general anesthesia for young patients.

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Will the operation affect my hearing?

No. Only the outer ear is operated on, not the middle or inner ear, where hearing takes place.

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Will there be any visible scars?

In most cases, no. The scars are hidden behind the ear. However, if you are prone to scarring problems such as keloids, you should discuss this with your doctor before the procedure.

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What can I expect after ear surgery?

Most doctors like to have the patient wear a headband for a few weeks after surgery in order to protect the surgical repair. If you can wear this at work, then you can probably return to work quickly, but you will need to discuss this issue with your doctor.

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What is the recovery period like?

Most normal activities can be resumed within a few weeks, but you will need to be very careful to protect your ears for at least six weeks, or possibly even longer. In order to make sure that there is no infection or bleeding in the ear after the surgery, you must be very careful to protect the ears and keep them clean. In addition, bending the ears forward in the first few months after the surgery can destroy even the finest surgical result, so be very careful to follow all of your surgeon's instructions.

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What is the long-term outcome like for most people?

The results are usually permanent, although there is always some small amount of "springing back" of the ears due to the elastic recoil of the ear cartilage.

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Ideal candidate:

  • Child, aged four or older, or adult.
  • In general good health.
  • No history of scarring problems, such as keloids.
  • Wanting to improve appearance.
  • Realistic in expectations.
  • Understand the limitations on activities required for good healing.
  • Able and willing to carefully follow the surgeon's after-care instructions.

The above is only a partial list of the criteria that your surgeon will consider in determining whether or not this procedure is appropriate for you. Be sure to ask your surgeon if he / she considers you (or your child) an ideal candidate for otoplasty.

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  • Wearing a headband or camouflaging the ears with long hair.
  • Accept the ears with their protruding shape.
  • Consider additional plastic surgery along with the otoplasty, to further improve the proportions of the head and face.

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Ear Surgery Risks:

All surgery carries some risk of scarring, bleeding, reaction to anesthesia, and infection. The health risks from these are relatively minor in this surgery, but special care must be taken because infection or collection of blood under the skin can deform the ear cartilages. Rarely, a second procedure will be necessary, or one of the nondissolving sutures (stitches) left in the ear will work its way to the surface and have to be removed. Serious complications are quite rare.

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The information on this web site is only intended as an introduction to this procedure and should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor as a guarantee of the result. The best method of determining your options is to consult qualified surgeons who are able to answer specific questions related to your situation.

*Disclaimer: Costs source: According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), nationally in 2010. Most surgeons offer convenient payments plans for this procedure. Cost does not include anesthesia, operating room facility, hospital stay, and other related expenses. Costs may vary depending the extensiveness of the procedure, location, and other factors. Costs are provided solely for research purposes. For specific estimates, please contact a qualified plastic surgeon.

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