How Is An Otoplasty Done?

Q:  My ears stick out and I am looking into getting them fixed. Can you tell details of the procedure to do it?

A: The correction of protruding ears, known as otoplasty, is a relatively simple procedure that makes for a dramatic change in the shape of one’s ears. Using an incision on the back of the ears, the shape of the ear cartilage is changed primarily by using suture  techniques. The primary reshaped areas of the ear are the antihelical fold, which often is missing or poorly developed, and the concha which is often too big or too strong. Both the size of the concha and the absence of an antihelical fold make the ear stick out too far from the side of the head. Once the cartilages are reshaped, the incision is closed with small dissolveable sutures. A wrap-around ear dressing is used in adults for just one day. It can be removed the next day and one can shower and wash their hair normally.

While the change is immediate and clearly visible once the dressing is removed, the ears after otoplasty will definitely be swollen and sore. The swelling will go away in about a week. The tenderness will remain for several weeks longer however. Complications from otoplasty are not common. The most significant ones would be over- or undercorrection, asymmetry between the ears, and delayed extrusion of one of the permanent sutures. (which can occur years to decades later) Of all of the otoplasties that I have done, revisional surgery has been limited to less than a handful.

Dr. Barry Eppley

indianapolis, Indiana