How Much Can A Reverse Otoplasty Bring The Ears Back Out?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I had a setback otoplasty seven years ago and have been bothered by how far back they were set. My surgeon released the sutures and scar tissue several months after surgery but it did no good. Can a reverse otoplasty help bring my ears partially back out and by his much? Could it be as much as 1 or 1.5 cms?

A: I would estimate you can move the ears back out by 5 to 7mms with a reverse otoplasty.

While it is true you can place any amount of cartilage grafting behind the ear to push them out quite far, large cartilage grafts will result in not being able to close the skin incisions behind the ear used to place them. An often overlooked part of a setback otoplasty, when done in the traditional manner, is that a large segment of skin is removed from behind the ear. This has been an historic part of otoplasty for the past 100 years. It has been proven to be unnecessary, as it does not help create or maintain the setback ear position, but it is still commonly done today. As a result a skin ‘deficiency’ now exists on the back of your ear and this prohibits the amount of cartilage ideally need to be placed to push the ears back to their initial preoperative position.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana