Otoplasty — also known as cosmetic ear surgery — is a procedure to change the shape, position or size of the ears.
You might choose to have otoplasty if you're bothered by how far your ears stick out from your head. You might also consider otoplasty if your ear or ears are misshapen due to an injury or birth defect.
Otoplasty can be done at any age after the ears have reached their full size — usually after age 5 — through adulthood.
During otoplasty, your doctor will surgically change the shape, position or size of your ears. Incisions can be made on the backs of the ears, as shown above, or within the inner creases of the ears. ...
Why it's done
You might consider otoplasty if:
Otoplasty is typically done on both ears to optimize symmetry.
Otoplasty can be done at any age after the ears have reached their full size — usually after age 5.
Otoplasty won't change the location of your ears or alter your ability to hear.
Otoplasty poses various risks, including:
Like any other type of major surgery, otoplasty poses a risk of bleeding, infection and an adverse reaction to anesthesia. It's also possible to have an allergic reaction to the surgical tape or other materials used during or after the procedure.
How you prepare
Initially, you'll talk to a plastic surgeon about otoplasty. During your first visit, your plastic surgeon will likely:
Before otoplasty you might also need to:
What you can expect
Otoplasty can be done in a hospital or an outpatient surgical facility.
Sometimes the procedure is done with sedation and local anesthesia, which numbs only part of your body. In other cases, general anesthesia — which renders you unconscious — is recommended.
During the procedure
Your doctor might make incisions:
After making incisions, your doctor might remove excess cartilage and skin. He or she will then fold the cartilage into the proper position and secure it with internal stitches. Additional stitches will be used to close the incisions.
The procedure typically takes about two hours.
After the procedure
You'll likely feel some discomfort and itching. Take pain medication as recommended by your doctor. If you take pain medication and your discomfort increases, contact your doctor immediately.
To keep pressure off your ears, avoid sleeping on your side. Also try not to rub or place excessive force on the incisions. Consider wearing button-down shirts or shirts with loosefitting collars.
A few days after otoplasty, your doctor will remove your bandages. Your ears will likely be swollen and red. You'll need to wear a loose headband that covers your ears at night for two to six weeks. This will help keep you from pulling your ears forward when rolling over in bed.
Talk to your doctor about when — or if — your stitches will be removed. Some stitches dissolve on their own. Others must be removed in the doctor's office in the weeks after the procedure.
Ask your doctor when it's OK to resume daily activities, such as bathing and physical activity.
After your bandages are removed, you'll notice an immediate change in the appearance of your ears. These changes are permanent.
If you're not satisfied with your results, check with your surgeon about the possibility of revision surgery.
Last Updated: 2012-08-23
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