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Ear correction (Otoplasty)

You can probably recall the kid in grade school with the large ears - the one who was always teased by his or her classmates. Ears that stick out can be a horrible curse to a child. Even with age, large ears that pained us during childhood can cause feelings of self-consciousness regarding our appearance.

Prominent ears can be genetic. In fact, approximately 25% of children whose parents have prominent ears will also have them. Don't let the same teasing you may have endured as a child affect your own child's life, especially when it could be corrected so easily.

Surgery to correct prominent ears, called "otoplasty," can be done by our facial plastic surgeon at any age after five years. By five, the ear cartilage is strong enough to withstand surgery and has reached its adult size. Special suture techniques allow an otoplasty surgeon to reshape the ear cartilage into a natural, discreet shape.

The otoplasty techniques we use at our practice have been proven effective through time and use.

For adults, otoplasty surgery is performed under local or general anesthesia dependent upon preference. However, for children, general anesthesia is recommended, as otoplasty surgery can last between one to two hours, and children tend to be impatient to be finished.

During your otoplasty surgery, your facial surgeon will create an incision in the skin crease behind the ear so that scarring is not visible. This incision exposes the cartilage, which the surgeon will sculpt and bend back toward the head, thereby minimizing the extent to which the ears stick out.

A protective bandage is applied to the head and ears following otoplasty surgery, and should be worn for three days. After the removal of the dressing, children should wear a headband both day and night for two weeks. Then, the headband should be worn at night for the next four weeks. During the early healing period, this headband protects the ears from abrupt position changes. Adults can choose to use the headband only at night from the beginning.

Following otoplasty, activity should be avoided during the early healing period, but after two weeks, normal activities may be resumed. Six weeks should be allowed before resuming participation in contact sports.

Immediately following otoplasty, the ears usually look flat against the side of the head and may feel numb. Moreover, some bruising is typical. These effects should subside as the ears heal, over two to six weeks. As is the case with most facial procedures, otoplasty patients will experience surprisingly little pain.


Procedure: Set prominent ears back closer to the head, or reduce the size of large ears. Most often done on children between the ages of 4 and 14 years. (Occasionally covered by insurance.)
Length: 2 to 3 hours.
Anesthesia: Young children: usually general. Older children or adults: general or local, with sedation.
In/Outpatient: Usually outpatient.
Side Effects: Temporary throbbing, aching, swelling, redness, numbness.
Risks: Infection of cartilage. Excessive scarring. Blood clot that may need to be drained. Mismatched or artificial- looking ears. Recurrence of the protrusion, requiring repeat surgery.
Recovery: Back to work or school: 5 to 7 days. Strenuous activity, contact sports: 1 to 2 months.
Duration of Results: Usually permanent.

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