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About Ear Surgery

Ear surgery, also known as an otoplasty or ear reshaping.

Ear surgery, or an otoplasty is an aesthetic procedure that alters the size, the proportion and/or the position of the ears. The outcome of ear reshaping surgery can vary greatly depending on the changes desired, but these procedures can generally significantly improve self-confidence, especially in young children and teenagers. Pinning can be performed to flatten the ears, if they prominently stick out. If one ear is positioned higher than the other or if they are oddly placed on the head, they can be repositioned to create more symmetry. Oversized ears or undersized ears can be addressed alone or in conjunction with other ear issues. An otoplasty can also be performed to correct any deformities or defects, such as any congenital conditions or trauma that was sustained, that the external ear may have.

The results from ear surgery will generally last for a person’s lift time, unless there are any incidents in which the shape or proportion of the ears is affected. The cost of ear surgery will generally vary depending on which doctor the patient decides to go with as well as which geographic location they are in.

How is it performed?

In children, the cartilage is soft enough that splints can be used for any contouring necessary during surgery, which is typically performed under general anaesthesia. With adults, due to their harder cartilage, the procedure must be carried out by making a small incision in the ear and removing or repositioning the cartilage through this. Depending on your desired changes and anatomy, your doctor may make an incision hidden behind or inside the ear. Any excess soft tissue or cartilage causing the ear to “stick out” can be removed. Normal folds and shape can be recreated by scraping the cartilage to contour it or shaping it with permanent sutures. A combination of techniques is sometimes required to achieve the desired result.

What result can I expect?

Results from ear surgery are typically permanent, barring any incidents which impact the shape or proportion of the ears.



  • Ear surgery can improve the shape and proportion of your ears.
  • Ear surgery can provide a boost to your self-confidence and is a low-risk procedure that can be performed on children over the age of five.
  • Results generally last a lifetime with minimal fluctuations.


  • Young children might have trouble dealing with aftercare and recovery.
  • Ear symmetry may be affected.
  • Permanent scarring or numbness of the ear or face may result.


You will have dressings bound around your ears for a short period immediately after surgery. It is likely your surgeon will recommend you medications to aid your recovery. Normally, you will be released from hospital on the same day as your procedure, but for your safety it is important that you arrange to have someone collect you.

Recovery Time
During the first week, it’s important that you rest as much as possible, although you should try to stretch and move at intervals, to help keep your blood flowing. Your surgeon may recommend that you remain reclined as much as possible, but try keeping your head elevated to minimize discomfort. Make sure that you don’t rest your head on the operated ears, as this will result in discomfort and could open your wounds. Your surgeon will advise when to remove your dressings, when to apply antibiotics or ointments to the area and how to care for your wounds. You will be asked to return to your surgeon’s office after the procedure, so that they can check that your wounds are healing correctly. Remember that the recovery period will be unique to every patient, but in normal circumstances you will be able to return to work after about a week. Within two weeks, the final results of your surgery will be visible, although you should expect some small changes to occur over the next year, as your body adjusts to the changes.

Limits & Risks

Although there are not many risks associated with ear surgery, complications are a possibility during any type of surgery. It’s very important that you stay in contact with your physician, so that they can monitor your recovery. Some potential complications of all surgeries are:

  • Adverse reactions to anaesthesia
  • Hematomas (build up of blood under the skin)
  • Infections and bleeding in the wound
  • Changes or loss in sensation
  • Scarring
  • Allergic reactions
  • Damage to underlying structures
  • Unsatisfactory results that may have to be corrected
  • Blood clots in your legs or lungs

It is likely that you experience some tingling around the ears and you will find some redness and swelling, but this will go down over time. During your recovery from ear surgery, you should be on the lookout for the following signs. If you think you notice any of them, please contact your physician immediately.

  • Any redness or swelling lasting more than two weeks
  • A temperature – anything higher than 101 degrees
  • Any, nausea, dizziness or incoherent behaviour
  • Severe or uncontrollable pain
  • Excessive bleeding in or around the surgical area
  • Any severe swelling in your ears, especially if it looks like a fluid is collecting

The rare, but potential risks associated with ear surgery are:

  • Severe scarring
  • Changes in skin sensitivity on or around the ears
  • Bleeding or infections
  • Changes in the position of the ears post-surgery, causing asymmetry

Please get in contact with your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any of these symptoms. Follow the instructions of your cosmetic surgeon both before and after surgery to reduce the risk to you.

Questions on Ear Surgery (Otoplasty or Ear Reshaping)

Can surgery make ears smaller?
Hi there, I've heard that there is surgery for ears to make them not stick out so much, but the issu...
What's the recovery time for surgery to have ears pinned back?
Since I was little, I have always had ears that stuck out.  I suffered thru lots of teasing as a chi...