Ear Surgery


If a person’s ears stick out too far or have an abnormal shape, they tend to stand out for the wrong reason. Children are often on the receiving end of embarrassing name-calling and bullying when their ears aren’t considered normal, and it can negatively impact their emotional and behavioral well-being. Surgery is sometimes the only remedy for malformed ears.


About five percent of the populace has an ear malformation, and it’s a genetic trait for 59 percent of those. Most commonly, those affected have protruding ears, which means the ear projects more than 15-20 mm from the skull. Common causes include underdevelopment of the antihelix and a deep concha that is overdeveloped. It could also be a combination of these two.


Otoplasty is surgery of the ears. Because ears grow to full size by age six, patients of nearly any age can get corrective otoplasty. This is used to pin back ears that protrude too much, reduce the size of ears that are too large, and reshape ears that need a more normal appearance. Sometimes the surgery makes both ears match in size, shape, and symmetry.

There are two categories of otoplasty; cartilage splitting or cutting, and cartilage sparing. During surgery, the doctor makes an incision in the natural fold behind the ear where the ear and head connect. Cartilage and skin are removed in some procedures. The amount taken out is determined by the malformation of the ear and the correction being made. Sometimes the physician trims the cartilage into the desired shape and uses permanent sutures to put it back in place.

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Cartilage is not always trimmed or removed. Because cartilage is pliable, surgeons may sculpt the cartilage into a preferred shape and use sutures to hold the ear in the new corrected position.

After Surgery

Otoplasty normally takes a few hours, and there are few risks. Patients usually have only a thin white scar, but being that it is behind the ear, it is not normally visible. Those patients prone to hypertrophic scarring and keloids, which may rise or go beyond the boundaries of the incision, should be advised that they may develop these after otoplasty.

Soft bandages and headbands to hold the ears in place are worn for a few days or weeks following otoplasty. Patients who sleep on their side will need to change positions during healing since they should not put pressure on the ears. While most people with ear malformations are likely good candidates for otoplasty, those with unrealistic expectations are not recommended.