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 People are not concerned too much about their outer ear as long as it does not show an appearance that is different from normal. When, however, your outer ear is overly large, disfigured or sticks out conspicuously or maybe asymmetrically, you may grow embarrassed about it. If you are not satisfied with the shape, size or position of your ears, otoplasty may be the way towards your improved body image and self-confidence.

Otoplasty is the surgical reconstruction or reshaping of the outer ear (pinna), whose basic function is to assist your hearing.

Around the age of 5 our ears reach their full size, so alterations to the ears can be done from this age on . Otoplasty costs may vary with location and medical facility, but in average terms, all related costs included, they range between $2,500 and $6,000.

Why is Otoplasty Surgery Done?


  • Disfigured ears caused by injury
  • Birth defects in the ear structure
  • Protruding ears, sometimes with angle asymmetry
  • Disproportionately prominent ears
  • To correct results of former otoplasty

The Otoplasty Procedure

Otoplasty surgeons are mostly plastic surgeons, but ENT surgeons or some pediatric surgeons are also trained to carry out the operation.

There are three major types of otoplasty procedure

  1. Otopexy is the flattening of protruding ears. It is the most commonly performed otoplasty surgery.
  2. Ear reduction aims to correct prominent ears.
  3.  Ear augmentation is performed to reconstruct a reduced or non-existing outer ear.

Otoplasty surgery to flatten the pinna is an outpatient procedure done in a hospital or at a private cosmetic surgery center. The aim of the otoplaty surgery is to reform the cartilage and to position the ear closer to the head. The otoplasty procedure normally takes around two hours.

There are two major steps involved in otoplasty, namely creating the missing antihelical fold in the ear and to reshape the enlarged conchal cartilage.

Anesthesia can be done locally complemented with intravenous sedation, or if the doctor recommends it for children, general anesthesia is also an option.

The incision is usually made on the back of the ear or the inner crease of your ears.

In the next step the plastic surgeon removes the excess cartilage and skin and positions the cartilage closer to the head.

Finally the doctor uses non-removable, absorbable sutures to fix the cartilage in its place and then closes the incision as well. To perform this step with care is crucial to avoid unnatural looking over-flattened ears.

After the surgery a bandage is placed over the ears to support and protect them till the stitches are removed.

Otoplasty Recovery

A few days after the otoplasty surgery you will experience pain and discomfort, but it is manageable with over-the-counter pain medication. A few days, maybe a week after the surgery, the bandage is removed and in exchange an elastic headband is provided, which is to be worn only at night. It aims to protect the ear from tension created around the ears. Your ears may be itchy, numb, red and swollen for a few days post-surgery, but in general you can count on a fast improvement and almost immediately visible results.

Full otoplasty recovery can be expected in two weeks, but you may feel stiffness and occasional soreness several months post-surgery.

As the incisions were positioned along natural creases or in the back of your ears surgical scars are not visible.

If after the swelling  recedes you are not satisfied with the results (you sense asymmetry, hardly noticeable change or overcorrection), talk to your surgeon about the possibility of an otoplasty revisional procedure.


Possible Risks and Complications of Otoplasty

Otoplasty is basically a safe and typically successful procedure. As with every surgery, however, there are some potential risks you have to count with:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Allergic reactions
  • Change in skin texture, color and sensation
  • Scarring
  • Overcorrection (pinned-back impression)
  • Asymmetry