Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)

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Ear surgery, also known as otoplasty, is a surgical procedure used to reduce the appearance of prominent ears through setting them closer to the head. Ear surgery can also include reducing the size of large earlobes or ears. This procedure takes less than two hours and can be performed on both children and adults who are self-conscious about the size or proportions of their ears.

Is Otoplasty Right for Me?

Otoplasty is available for adults and children who are in good overall health and wish to change the proportion of the ears to the size and shape of the head. Unlike many other forms of cosmetic surgery, otoplasty can be performed on patients as young as five years old as the ears have reached their adult size by this time. Today, many parents opt to have ear surgery performed on their young children to prevent teasing about large ears. In severe cases, otoplasty may be performed on children as young as two. Thousands of adults have also undergone otoplasty procedures.

The purpose of otoplasty is generally cosmetic. Although it is a surgical procedure performed on the ears, it will not alter hearing abilities. It is important to have realistic expectations when undergoing any surgical procedure.

Procedure Details

Otoplasty can be performed with local anesthesia, although general anesthesia may be a better choice for young children. During ear surgery, an incision either behind the ear or in the natural creases of the ear allows your surgeon to reshape the cartilage that provides structure to the ear. Cartilage or skin may be removed if reduction in the size of the ear or earlobes is desired. When the ear size is to remain unchanged, the removal of tissue is unnecessary.

To change the positioning of the ear, sutures will be used to hold the ears closer to the head. Most sutures used to correct the size and placement of the ears are internal and non-removable to hold the newly shaped cartilage in place permanently. This process takes about 45 minutes per ear, with a total procedure time of an hour and a half to two hours.

Recovery After Ear Surgery

Following ear surgery, a dressing will be needed over the ears for several days, with a soft headband to protect the ears at night. Many patients report having trouble resuming sleeping patterns for a few days after otoplasty, especially if accustomed to sleeping on their sides. During this time, the ears will be swollen. Most patients return to work, school, and other daily activities in under a week and strenuous exercise or sports in about two weeks.