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Adam G. Tattlebaum M.D.


Do you hide your ears under your hair or a comfortable hat? Are you self-conscious about the size, shape, and position of your ears? Otoplasty, also known as ear surgery, is a procedure used to change or alter the appearance of one’s ears. Otoplasty includes bringing the ears closer to the head (often called ear pinning), reducing the size of very big ears, or reshaping various bends in the cartilage. Otoplasty

Potential Benefits

Ear surgery can alter most aspects of your ears, such as:
  • Shape
  • Size, either to increase or decrease
  • Symmetry
  • Position on the head, normally to pin the ears closer to the head

Potential Candidates

While most cosmetic surgeries are not appropriate until at least mid or late teens, severely protruding ears are often corrected as early as 5 years of age. By then, the ears are near complete development. Generally, this procedure is appropriate for any healthy individual who is dissatisfied with the shape or prominence of their ears. If you have any of the following concerns, then you could be suitable for cosmetic ear surgery:
  • Large or protruding ears
  • Enlarged earlobes
  • Cauliflower ears
  • Lop ears (where the ear tips fold down and jut forward)
  • Deformed or misshapen ears
  • Very small ears

Understanding the Surgery

The degree and location of the ear deformity will determine the exact procedure necessary. Dr. Tattelbaum will discuss this with you when he examines you during your complimentary consultation. Incisions for otoplasty are usually placed behind the ear. The skin is then elevated in some areas, and the underlying cartilage framework is exposed. The cartilage is reshaped through scoring, suturing, limited removal, or a combination of these techniques. The reshaped framework is then repositioned to achieve the best balance on the opposite side and to reduce excessive projection. The skin is re-draped, any excess skin is removed, and the incision behind the ear is closed. A gentle pressure dressing is placed on the head to put slight pressure on the ears and maintain their new position as well as to minimize swelling and excessive fluid accumulation beneath the skin. This dressing is usually removed in five to seven days. All incisions will be closed with stitches that dissolve and don’t have to be removed. You can wash your hair as soon as your head dressing is removed.

Special Considerations

  • Symmetry: Your two ears are never the same size or shape. Though otoplasty can improve their shape and position, small differences will exist after surgery.
  • The risk of recurrence: Cartilage forms the framework of the ear. When moved, it tends to spring back to its original position. During surgery, weakening and shaping the cartilage reduce this tendency. However, if the cartilage is extremely resilient, or if there is an impact from scar tissue after surgery, ear prominence can reoccur in a very small number of patients. In those cases, a revision procedure may be necessary.
  • General Risks: Risks common to all surgical procedures such as bleeding, infection and scar tissue formation occur in a very small percentage of cases. We will give you more detailed information about these and other rare risks in our written information and encourage you to discuss any that concern you during your consultation.

Types of Otoplasty

As individuals get ear jobs for various reasons, there are a few types of ear surgeries available. These include:
  • Ear reconstruction: Also known as ear augmentation, this form of surgery is best for patients who have not fully developed, or are missing, elements of their outer ear. It also addresses traumatic injuries to the ear and possibly deformities.
  • Ear Reduction: This type of surgery is for patients who have large or prominent ears and wish to correct this. This surgery specifically targets individuals with macrotia and oversized pinna. To reduce the size of ears, your surgeon will alter your ear cartilage.
  • Ear Pinning: This is one of the most common surgeries performed on the ear. Such surgery targets individuals who want to minimize the position between the external structure of the ear, and the head (also known as the conchal angle). This makes the ears less obtrusive and helps your face look more symmetrical.
  • Earlobe Surgery: Also known as lobuloplasty, this surgery treats many issues in the earlobe, including tears, size, or lobe laxity. Many people with body modification have decided to restore the skin on the earlobe. Other individuals with enlarged earlobes also choose this option.

Before Your Ear Surgery

Before you decide whether to go ahead with cosmetic ear surgery you will need to book a consultation to discuss your options. We will examine your ears and discuss the type of ear surgery that is best suited to you. The consultation will also be an opportunity for you to talk about your goals and expectations of the procedure. We will take a medical history and go through the possible risks and complications associated with the surgery to ensure you fully understand what the procedure involves before deciding whether to go ahead. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions and bring up any concerns you have. Once you have decided that you want to go ahead you will be given a consent form to sign. Make sure you read this and all the associated material you are given carefully.

Ear Surgery Risks and Complications

Although cosmetic ear surgery is known to be one of the safest plastic surgery procedures, there is always some risk involved in the whenever you have surgery. Infection, blood clots, overcorrection, and an extremely rare risk of altered hearing are all potential complications associated with ear surgery. Infection is one of the most common complications of any surgery. Usually, an infection can be treated with antibiotics but in rare cases, the infection may require surgical drainage and could result in the formation of scar tissue. Blood clots are very rare but can be removed with a needle or may simply dissolve naturally. You should contact your surgeon immediately if you experience any prolonged swelling and bleeding to ensure the ear is healing properly. Overcorrection is another possible risk following cosmetic ear surgery. The chance of this occurring can be reduced by ensuring you choose a surgeon who is skilled in performing ear surgery. Overcorrection complications include the surgeon placing the ears too close to the head, contour distortions, inadequate correction, and asymmetric correction. Hearing loss is extremely rare, and a highly skilled ear surgeon can evaluate the possibility of such a risk and take the necessary steps to avoid any hearing damage.

Recovery Time

As with any type of surgery, recovery from cosmetic ear surgery can take a few weeks. You will typically be able to resume normal activities after a few days, but full recovery can take up to six weeks. Children generally require a week of rest before going back to school. Your ears will be swollen after surgery, but this will go down after a few days. Your ears may also be bruised, and you may get some throbbing, itching or temporary numbness in the treated area. It is very important that the bandages are not removed before your surgeon tells you to. It may be necessary to wear a headband after your bandages are removed to ensure they heal properly and keep the desired shape and position. You should refrain from any rigorous activity until you are fully recovered and avoid using hair dryers or other objects that give out extreme heat or cold, as they may cause damage to numb ears.

Important tips to consider after surgery:

  • Avoid any demanding activities or ones that may have impact your ears
  • Avoid any extreme heat and do not use blow dryers
  • Try not to sleep on your sides until your ears are fully healed
  • Get a lot of rest during the recovery process
  • If you experience any complications, contact your doctor immediately

How Much Does Otoplasty Cost?

The cost of otoplasty is based upon an individual treatment plan that we will develop together during your initial consultation. After the appointment, we provide you with a total cost and explanation of your payment options.
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