Am I Too Old To Have My Ears Reshaped (Otoplasty)?

Q: My ears have always stuck out. One definitely sticks out further than the other. Growing up I have been always self-conscious about them and I have never worn my hair in a ponytail as a result of how my ears look. It was awful when I went swimming because with my hair wet my ears stuck out even further. I have finally decided to do something about it with otoplasty surgery. My question is at age 43 am I too old to get a good result? Are the ear cartilages too stiff (too old) at this point to be changed? Also, will changing the shape of my ears affect my hearing?

A: External ear reshaping, known as otoplasty, can be done at any age. While it is true that cartilage does stiffen with age throughout the body due to loss of water content and even calcification, this cartilage ‘aging’ does not affect the ear cartilages very much. I have done otoplasty in patients in their 60s and 70s (rare as they are at this age) without any noticeable change in the ability to reshape the cartilages.

A change in your ear shape will not affect your hearing. Although the ear’s folds and convolutions do serve to concentrate and localize sound waves, pinning back or reshaping the outer aspect of the ears will not produce a noticeable change in your hearing. The inner bowl of the ear (concha) is what does most of the gathering of sound waves and this is not changed significantly in otoplasty surgery. 

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis Indiana