How Can I Avoid An Overdone Otoplasty?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I would like to have an otoplasty done for my protruding ears. But I have seen numerous otoplasty results on the internet on doctor’s websites and many of them look overdone to me. The middle part of the ear seems to be pulled back too far and the upper and lower parts of the ear still stick out. Can I get an otoplasty performed in which the ear is closer to the side of head but it is smooth from top to bottom?

A: The setting back of the ear through cartilage reshaping (otoplasty) is as much an art as it is a science. And how much setback a patient desires does vary with each individual case. It is important to have a good understanding before surgery as to how much setback you consider to be adequate or even too much. Many of the untoward otoplasty results to which you refer is not the result of how the cartilage was repositioned but by a lack of setting back the earlobe at the same time. The earlobe has no cartilage in it and is thus not affected by any cartilage suturing. It is an often forgotten part of an otoplasty and can make the middle part of the ear look like it is pulled back too far if it is not changed. In those protruding ear patients that also have an earlobe that angles out (and many do) it is important to set the earlobe back at the same time as the cartilage to ensure that the outer helical rim is a smooth line.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana