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Ear Surgery (Ear Lobe)

Ear surgery While many people are born with ears they like, others would like to make changes to their ears. For those who were teased, and made fun of as children, a surgical procedure, ear surgery, or otoplasty, provides an opportunity to improve upon the appearance of one’s ears. This surgical procedure pins ears closer to the head, reduces the size of large ears, and reshapes them. This can result in the ears appearing more normal, smaller, or not stick out as much.

Typical candidates for this surgery are actually younger patients. After the ear has grown, usually between four to six years of age, children can have otoplasty. This is done at a young age so that the child can avoid being teased during their school years.

Adults can also undergo ear surgery, without taking on any additional risks. They usually have this done to enhance their appearance, and to improve self-esteem.

With the increasing popularity of various cosmetic surgery procedures, including ear surgery, it is imperative that the prospective patient research and understand different issues like what the procedure can and cannot treat, inherent risks, costs, and so on. Keep in mind, cosmetic surgery is just that – a surgical procedure whose results cannot simply be erased. While the information contained in this website will provide you with a good introduction to ear surgery, when considering this procedure, or any other cosmetic surgery procedure, we recommend that you consult a qualified provider with significant experience. Some important elements you should understand regarding ear surgery include the following:

Who is an ideal candidate for this procedure?

An ideal candidate is one who is looking to improve certain ear shape or size problems. These include:
  • Large ears.
  • Protruding ears.
  • Lop ear (when the top seems to fold down and forward)
  • Cupped ear (a condition where the ear is very small)
  • Shell ear (when the curve in the outer rim, as well as the natural folds and creases, are missing)
  • Large or stretched earlobes.
  • Earlobes with large creases and wrinkles.
The consultation visit is an important part of ear surgery. Be sure to discuss your reasons for wanting ear surgery when you consult with your cosmetic surgeon. That will help the doctor determine if you are a qualified candidate for the procedure.

If the candidate is a child, he must wait until the ears are almost fully grown, usually between ages four and six, before undergoing surgery. Having ear surgery at a younger age carries psychological and physical advantages. The cartilage is extremely flexible, thereby permitting greater ease of shaping; and secondly, the child will experience psychological benefits from the cosmetic improvement. Adult patients do not take on any additional risks by having ear surgery at an older age. However, they should understand that the firmer cartilage of fully developed ears does not provide the same molding capacity as in children.

Where do I begin?

For those deciding to have ear surgery, the first step is to find a qualified specialist who will perform the procedure. has created an easy and effective way for patients to find a cosmetic surgeon online. For more information please
find a Cosmetic Surgeon.

Before deciding to have ear surgery, it is strongly recommended that patients meet with a cosmetic surgeon for a consultation visit. Parents should pay attention to their child’s feelings about the current ear condition and not insist the child have surgery. Parents must be confident about what is in the child’s best interest.

During the consultation, doctor and patient discuss issues such as the patient’s reasons for wanting ear surgery, evaluate the current ear condition, and explain the various what can be done, and the details of the surgery. The doctor will also provide instructions on how to prepare for the procedure.

How is this procedure performed?

The type of anesthesia used typically depends upon the age of the patient. If ear surgery is performed on a younger patient, the surgeon may recommend general anesthesia, allowing the child to sleep through the operation. For older patients, local anesthesia may be used, allowing the patient to be awake but relaxed.

The operation takes about two to three hours, depending on the type of problem. One of the more common techniques is when the doctor makes a small incision in the back of the ear to expose the cartilage. Then the doctor sculpts the cartilage and bends it back toward the head. Stitches may be used to help maintain the new shape as well as close the incision. Occasionally, a larger piece of cartilage may be removed, which will provide a more natural-looking fold when surgery is complete.

Another technique involves a similar incision in the back of the ear. However with this technique, skin is removed and stitches are used to fold the cartilage back on itself. This is done to reshape the ear without removing cartilage.

In most cases, ear surgery will leave a faint scar in the back of the ear, which fades over time. Even when only one ear is protruding, surgery is usually performed on both ears for a better balance. It is important to have realistic expectations and understand that ear surgery is meant for improvement, not perfection. Both ears matching perfectly due to surgery is highly unlikely.

Most patients can go home within a few hours after surgery. In most cases, the patient’s head will be wrapped in a bulky bandage immediately following surgery. This will help provide the best molding and healing. Throbbing and aching in the ears is to be expected, which can be relieved with medication. The stitches are removed about a week after surgery. It is recommended that patients avoid any activity where the ear might be bumped. Usually adults can go back to work within five days after surgery, while children can return to school within seven days.

What are the risks to having ear surgery?

Risks involved with ear surgery are minimal. A small percentage of patients may develop a blood clot on the ear as a result of the operation. However this condition can dissolve naturally or be drawn out with a needle. Another risk is infection occurring in the cartilage, which can cause scar tissue to form. This can be treated with antibiotics.

What are the typical costs associated with ear surgery?

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the national average cost of ear surgery was $3,054 in 2010. Surgeon fees within various regions may vary depending on whether the practice is in an urban, suburban or rural area. This fee only covers the surgeon / physician costs, and do not include other factors like anesthesia and other miscellaneous costs associated with fat injections. A comprehensive cost figure may be obtained while consulting with the surgeon. Make sure the total figure includes any and all costs associated with the treatment.

Ten questions every patient should ask their surgeon about Ear Surgery

To gain a more thorough understanding about ear surgery, and help form realistic expectations, it is recommended that the patient view before and after photographs of the surgeon’s previous patients and speak with them. It is also important for patients to ask questions about anything they do not understand about the procedure. Here are some recommended questions:
  1. Is what I described realistic?
  2. Where will the ear surgery be performed and how long will it take?
  3. In my case, what technique is most appropriate in helping me achieve my cosmetic goal?
  4. What kind of anesthesia will be used during the surgery?
  5. How much does ear surgery cost and what elements factor into that cost like hospital fees, anesthesia, and so on?
  6. What is the surgeon’s level of experience in performing ear surgery?
  7. What percentage of patients experience complications with ear surgery?
  8. What is the surgeon’s policy about correcting or repeating the procedure if the first ear surgery operation does not meet agreed upon results?
  9. What should I expect, post-operatively, in terms of soreness, scaring, activity level, and so on?
  10. Have you ever had your malpractice insurance coverage denied, revoked or suspended? provides information about plastic / cosmetic surgery and is designed to help users make decisions regarding their own treatment options. However, the medical information provided is not the same as medical advice – the application of medical treatment to an individual’s specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend that you consult a qualified medical practitioner if you want the professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.

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