What Is Otoplasty?


If you scan through a class picture of elementary school children, you’re bound to see one or two kids with some sort of ear abnormality.

For many of these kids, their ‘unusual’ ears are a source of embarrassment. Some of them grow into adulthood without the issue being addressed and are forced to navigate some rather awkward social situations. The lucky ones get otoplasty.

Which leads to the question, what is otoplasty?

What Is Otoplasty?

Cosmetic ear surgery that’s performed on the visible part of the outer ear (known as the auricle) is known as otoplasty. It’s performed on both children and adults.

Under the umbrella of otoplasty, there are three different procedures.

Ear pinning is recommended when the patient has prominent ears that expand out from the sides of the head. An ear reduction helps patients who have oversized ears – also known as macrotia. Finally, augmentation is for those who have misshapen, small, or underdeveloped auricles.

Those Who Benefit From Otoplasty

The majority of people who seek otoplasty tend to have congenital ear conditions. For many, the auricle didn’t develop properly. This can result in protruding, constricted, or misshapen ears.

Otoplasty corrects these conditions.

But otoplasty doesn’t just address congenital anomalies. Patients who have sustained ear injuries or trauma from car accidents, dog bites, etc. will also benefit from otoplasty. A common injury among boxers, wrestlers, and martial artists is cauliflower ear. Otoplasty addresses that as well.

Since the auricle doesn’t reach 90% of its adult size until the age of five,  that’s the minimal age for otoplasty. Of course, adults of all ages can get otoplasty. Patients should be in good health and be non-smokers or quit smoking weeks before the procedure.

What to Expect From the Procedure

Because there are different types of procedures, there is no one-size-fits-all. The specific surgical technique depends on the patient’s needs.

In general though, there will be an incision on the back of the ear or inside the folds. The ear tissue will be manipulated to either remove skin/cartilage, fold and shape the cartilage, or graft cartilage to the ear.

Any incision made is closed with stitches.

In most cases, otoplasty is done as an outpatient procedure that takes between one and three hours. Because the procedures tend to be outpatient, surgeons typically use local anesthesia with a sedative.

For younger children, however, the surgeon may choose general anesthesia.


Once the procedure is complete, a compression bandage will be applied to the ears and kept there for the first 24 hours. After that, lighter dressing will cover the surgical incisions. It’s important that the dressing is kept clean and dry.

Avoid sleeping or resting in any position that will put pressure on the ear(s). Also, while the ear(s) are healing, it’s best to stick with clothes that button or zip up rather than those that need to be pulled over the head.

And for parents of children having otoplasty, they’ll need to be watchful that their child doesn’t touch or scratch his or her ear(s).

Most patients can expect to return to normal activity within a few days – although rigorous physical activity should be avoided for a couple of weeks during healing.

Could Otoplasty Help You or Your Child?

Now that you know the answer to the question of what is otoplasty, it’s time to consider it as an option for you or your child.

Contact us today to talk with our board-certified surgeons to find out how we can help.

We will happily advise you on the next best steps for getting this confidence-boosting procedure.