Ear surgery, also known as otoplasty, corrects protruding or disfigured ears. It can also improve the shape, position or proportion of the ear.
Reasons for procedure | What to expect | Call your doctor | Resources
Reasons for Otoplasty
Cosmetic ear surgery can correct a birth defect in the ear or an ear that is misshapen due to injury. It can help with a rare condition called macrotia (overly large ears), protruding ears occurring on one or both sides in varying degrees, and dissatisfaction with previous ear surgery.
What to Expect from Ear Surgery
Prior to procedure. Be prepared to discuss why you want the plastic surgery procedure and your desired outcome. Your physician will review your current medications and allergies to medications and may also:
- Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
- Take photographs for your medical record
- Discuss your options and recommend a course of treatment
- Discuss likely outcomes of ear surgery and any risks or potential complications
Prior to otoplasty surgery, you may be asked to:
- Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
- Take certain medications or adjust current medications
- Stop smoking, well in advance of the cosmetic surgery procedure
- Avoid taking aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding
Anesthesia. Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. The choices include local, intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. Your plastic surgeon will recommend the best choice for you.
The Otoplasty Procedure
Correction of protruding ears uses surgical techniques to create or increase the antihelical fold (the rim of the ear) and to reduce enlarged conchal cartilage (the largest and deepest concavity of the external ear). Incisions for cosmetic ear surgery are generally made on the back surface of the ear. When incisions are necessary on the front of the ear, they are made within its folds to hide them. Internal, nonremovable sutures are used to create and secure the newly shaped cartilage in place.
External stitches close the incision. Techniques are individualized, avoiding distortion and an unnatural “pinned back” appearance.
After Your Ear Surgery Procedure
Ear surgery offers almost immediate results in cases of protruding ears, and is visible when the dressings that support the new shape of the ear during healing are removed. With the ear permanently positioned closer to the head, surgical scars are either hidden behind the ear or within the natural creases of the ear.
Does Ear Surgery Hurt?
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. Discomfort immediately following ear surgery is normal and can be controlled with pain medication. There may be an itchy feeling under bandages. It is essential that bandages remain intact and are not removed for any reason. Failure to do so may result in loss of some of the correction and may require additional surgery.
At the hospital: After surgery, bandages or dressings will be applied to keep your surgical site clean, protect it from trauma and support the new position of the ear during initial healing.
You will be given specific instructions that may include:
- How to take care of your ears following otoplasty surgery
- Medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection
- When to follow up with your surgeon
At home: Following your physician’s instructions is very important to the success of your plastic surgery, and your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to take care of yourself. Surgical incisions should not be subjected to excessive force, abrasion or motion during the time of healing. Make sure you attend follow-up visits as scheduled. Should any complications occur, notify your cosmetic surgeon, who will determine if any additional treatment is needed.
Reasons to Call Your Doctor
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occur:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain or discharge at the incision site
In case of an emergency, call 911.
Possible complications. Some of the risks associated with ear surgery include:
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- Blood clots
- Poor wound healing
- Change in skin sensation
- Skin contour irregularities
- Skin discoloration/swelling
- Anesthesia risks
- Unfavorable scarring
- Allergies to tape, suture materials, glues, blood products, topical preparations or injected agents
- Pain, which may persist
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
VISIT the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) site for more information on ear surgery. more >>