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Otoplasty is a type of a non-emergency cosmetic procedure used to alter the shape, size and droopiness of either one or both the ears. This procedure can be performed on an individual from any age group, provided their ears have grown fully.

People decide to undergo otoplasty for a number of reasons. For example, certain people are unhappy with the position of their ear or how far they stick out from their face. Otoplasty is also required in cases where ears have disfigured because of an accident or a birth defect.

Who should consider otoplasty?

Individual with disproportionate size of the ears with respect to head, ear protruding out too far from the head and injured ears can decide to undergo this surgery. Typically, the surgery is performed on both the ears in parallel to avoid any mistakes with the symmetry.

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Before the Treatment

Once you set your expectation with the doctor about why you want to get otoplasty done, the doctor would first review your medical history by asking you certain questions. You will be particularly asked about any ear infections that you may have had in the past or whether you are taking any medications.

The question and answer session will be followed up with a minor physical exam during which the doctor will make a note of the original placement of the ears, symmetry, size and shape. For the purpose of medical records, the doctor may even take pictures of your ears to work on a strategy.

Lastly, you may be asked to avoid certain medications and lifestyle habits such as smoking as it can interfere with the healing process.

How it is Performed

Otoplasty can be performed as an outpatient procedure in a hospital or a clinic and lasts for a little over two hours. Typically, the patient is given local anesthesia to numb the ear and the area around the ear. But in some patients, general anesthesia may be required to render them unconscious.

The steps in otoplasty surgery depends on the kind of correction that the patient is expecting to get. For example, the exact position and location of the incision made by the surgeon depends on the end objective that the surgeon wants to achieve in terms of position of the ear and the scarring.

The doctor makes an incision within the crease of the ears or on the back of the ears. Next, all the extra cartilage and skin are removed before folding them into proper position. The new position of the cartilage and the skin is secured with the help of stitches and the incisions are closed.


  • You may initially feel a bit of discomfort and itching after the procedure. The operated ear will remain bandaged for a day for extra support and protection. A pain killer may be advised to relieve any discomfort.
  • The bandage is typically removed a day after the surgery. The ear may continue to remain red and swollen for a few days and the doctor may advise you to wear a loose headband for at least three to four weeks. The headband covers your ear and keep them in position even when you are lying down on bed.
  • Some stitches may dissolve by themselves, while others are required to be removed by the doctor. You should ask your doctor whether the stitches will dissolve on their own or when do you need to visit the clinic to get them removed.
  • In addition, also ask your doctor about when you should return back to your normal routine activities such as physical sports and bathing.

Otoplasty: Risks and Complications

Just like any other cosmetic procedure, otoplasty has its own set of risks and complications. However, none of them are life-threatening.

The following are some of the risks and complications that may arise:

  • Asymmetry: The two ear may look asymmetrical after the procedure because of faulty placement or due to after effects of healing. Thus, the patient may be required to undergo corrective surgery.
  • Altered skin sensation: The patient may temporarily experience changes in skin sensation after the surgery.
  • Scarring: There may be visible scars, depending on where exactly the doctor has made an incision.
  • Complicated stitches: Sometimes the stitches may invade the skin and inflame it. Such stitches need to be removed immediately before an additional surgery is conducted.

In addition, there are rare chances of an infection, an allergic reaction to anesthesia and bleeding.


  • Safe procedures
  • Short recovery time


  • Results may vary in terms of symmetry

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