What is Otoplasty?

Otoplasty is a very common procedure which aims to make the ears appear less prominent and give the ears a more natural appearance, helping to improve the confidence and self-esteem of the person.

Who does this procedure suit?

Many children and adults may be self-conscious about their prominent or protruding ears. In children, mild cases may be hidden by longer hair until the child is old enough to request surgery. If the ears are extremely prominent, otoplasty can be performed at an earlier age. At age 5 or 6, the ears have attained 80% of their final size so otoplasty can be performed at any time from this age. Adults of all ages often request this common procedure.

What results will I expect?

Your ears will sit further back along the head area, reducing the prominence from the front. Prominent ear correction is one of the most common cosmetic procedures and the results are excellent and often permanent. The ears will have a natural appearance, helping you to feel more confident.

What’s the first step to take?

During your first consultation your surgeon will discuss what you’d like to achieve, any expectations you have, questions about the procedure, medical history and current medication. Your ears will be carefully examined so that the surgeon knows your individual needs. We will provide as much information as possible so that you feel comfortable and informed, and if you feel overwhelmed in any way we encourage you to make a second consultation so that you feel confident with your decision.

How do I prepare for surgery?

Please ensure you have arranged someone to drive you home after your surgery and to help you out at home for a few days. To reduce risk of bleeding and bruising please make sure to:

  • Avoid aspirin (or similar) and Vitamin E two weeks before surgery. Panadol, and vitamins B and C are safe to use.
  • Inform your surgeon if you take any herbal medicines that may affect clotting and the anesthetic.
  • Avoid smoking 2 weeks before and after surgery so as not to restrict circulation to the area and delay healing. Giving up altogether is best.
  • Inform us immediately if you’ve had any infection (cold or flu) the week before your surgery.

What happens on the day of my surgery?

We will guide you to prepare for surgery so that your procedure and recovery go smoothly.

  • If your procedure is in the morning – do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before.
  • If your procedure is in the afternoon – do not eat or drink anything after 8.00am.

What should I expect during surgery?

Otoplasty is performed under general anesthetic or a light sedation with local anesthetic. Whichever you choose, you will be very comfortable and experience no pain during the surgery. This procedure takes approximately 60-90 minutes and you will be able to go home a few hours after.

During the procedure, an incision is made on the back of the ear so no scars are seen and the surgery is designed to produce an entirely natural ear shape. The ridge within the cartilage (antihelical fold) responsible for folding the ear back is recreated and some internal sutures applied to maintain this new position. In some cases other parts of the ear may need reducing such as the ear lobe or bowl (concha) of the ear and your surgeon will discuss this with you if needed.

What should I expect after surgery?

  • You will have a light bandage over the ears which is worn for a week to protect the ears in their new position.
  • Local anesthetic is used at the end of the procedure so that you have pain relief for the following 6-12 hours.
  • Some discomfort is normal for the first few days, which is easily relieved with oral analgesics. Any ear redness and tenderness is usually completely resolved in a few months.
  • A follow up appointment will be made 7-10 days after to check that the wound has healed well and to remove the bandages.
  • It is recommended to take approximately 1 week off work to recover.
  • The ears will be tender if knocked, so you should avoid contact sport for 6 weeks. A protective headband should be worn when sleeping to minimize accidental damage to the ears.

What are the risks and complications with this procedure?

  • Infection – is rare however antibiotics help to minimize risk.
  • Excessive internal bleeding (haematoma) – this requires removal of stitches and washing out the bruising beneath the skin. This has no effect on the long-term outcome.
  • Independent of the technique used by the surgeon the ‘memory’ of the cartilage may cause the prominence to recur in a few patients (5-7%). If this happens the procedure can safely be performed again.
  • Asymmetry – no two ears are exactly the same before surgery and mild asymmetry after the procedure is acceptable. Any more than mild asymmetry may require additional surgery.
  • Keloid scars – some people have a tendency to form poor scars which is sometimes unpredictable. Poor long-term healing may require additional scar treatment.
  • Blood clots – extremely rare however is life threatening and a risk with all surgeries.

Please call our office if you experience any of the following: excessive pain or bleeding, abnormal swelling or fever during the first 24 hours.