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Otoplasty (Ear Reshaping)

By New You Editorial
Posted On Jun 26, 2012

Otoplasty (ear reshaping) is designed to correct protruding or disfigured ears in children and adults. Shape, position or proportion of the ear may be corrected. The goal is creation of a natural shape, improving balance and proportion to the ears and face.

Numerous surgical procedures are used to correct ear protrusion. The selection of procedures is based on the surgeon’s clinical experience and the underlying cause of the protrusion. Some patients benefit from placing simple sutures in the ear cartilage to reposition the ears closer to the skull, while other patients need cartilage removal. Often these procedures are performed in combination.

With children and it is suggested to perform otoplasty before the child begins school to avoid peer teasing and ridicule which may adversely affects a child’s self image.

Who is a candidate?

  • Health children age 5 or older with prominent or disfigured ears.
  • Health children age 5 or older with ear cartilage stable enough for correction.
  • Health children age 5 or older without untreated chronic ear infections.
  • Health children age 5 or older who are able to cooperate and follow instructions.
  • Health children age 5 or older who are able to communicate their feelings and do not object when surgery is discussed.
  • Healthy teenagers and adults with a positive outlook and who have specific goals in mind for ear surgery

Intended Results

  • Place the protruding ears in a normal relationship to the head and face.
  • Restored normal anatomy of the ears and a more natural appearance.

Procedure Description

  • The procedure may be performed in an accredited office surgery center, or in the hospital as an outpatient.
  • Local anesthesia , conscious sedation, or general anesthesia may be used.
  • A hidden incision is usually made behind the ear.
  • Specialized sutures are used to “pin” the ears back to a more normal position and restore normal ear anatomy.
  • An additional procedure may also be performed to remove a small piece of the excessive cartilage to create a more natural and longer lasting result.
  • A head bandage is usually placed for 1-3 days.
  • When the bandage is removed, the surgeon may ask the patient to wear a head band for several weeks to assist in keeping the ears in the correct position.

Recuperation and Healing

  • The recovery period averages 7-10 days.
  • Patients with long hair can immediately cover the ears and return to work or play earlier.
  • Activity is reduced for the first 2 weeks.
  • Contact sports and helmet use are discouraged for 6-8 weeks.

Other Options

  • Ear molding and taping the ears of infants may be effective. If done, this is only effective during the first months following childbirth and must be undertaken under the direction of your pediatrician and surgeon.
  • No treatment.


The specific risks and the suitability of this procedure for a given individual can be determined only at the time of consultation. All surgical procedures have some degree of risk. Minor complications that do not affect the outcome occur occasionally. Major complications are rare.