A delicate procedure, otoplasty can give patients more confidence for cosmetic issues or help to correct certain defects and injuries.

Otoplasty is a cosmetic surgical procedure used to alter the position, shape, or size of the ears. In most cases, this procedure is performed after age five when the ears get to full size, but there are cases when it can be done on children three years of age and older.

  • In the case of ear shape issues, such as prominent ears at birth, surgery right after birth might be considered to splint them and correct the problem.
  • Adults can also undergo otoplasty to correct cosmetic issues.

Why It’s Done

Otoplasty is generally considered for the following reasons:

  • The ears stick out too far from the patient’s head
  • A previous ear surgery left the patient dissatisfied
  • Certain birth defects or ear deformities are present
  • Certain ear injuries have altered the look of the ear
  • The ears and the patient’s head are not in proportion

In most cases, both ears are done during surgery to ensure optimal symmetry.


Patients will begin the process with a consultation with their surgeon. Together, they will discuss the patient’s medical history and reason for otoplasty. Reasonable expectations will be discussed during this visit. The surgeon will examine the ears and will often take photos to make note of ear size, symmetry, placement, and shape. A full physical examination and pre-surgical workup is done to ensure the patient is healthy enough for surgery.

The surgeon will let the patient know if certain medications need to be stopped or have dosages altered before the surgery. For example, if a patient is taking a drug that can cause bleeding, this might require alteration. Stopping smoking is also generally recommended to reduce the risk of infection and delayed healing.


To begin the procedure, the patient undergoes anesthesia. The type of anesthesia used depends on the exact surgery being performed. The technique used will also depend on what the surgeon is doing. To help reduce the risk of physical scars, incisions can be made within the ear’s inner creases or behind the ears.

On average, it takes about two hours to perform otoplasty. Following the procedure, the ears are bandaged, and patients are sent to recovery. Depending on the patient’s overall health and the surgery performed, they might be able to go home the same day. Aftercare instructions will be provided to help ensure that the patient recovers comfortably and has what they need to decrease the likelihood of experiencing complications or post-surgical risks.

Possible Risks

There are possible risks that patients should be aware of prior to having this surgery performed, including scarring and skin sensation changes. General surgery risks will also be discussed with patients, such as adverse anesthesia reactions.