Otoplasty

What is an otoplasty/ear surgery?


Otoplasty or cosmetic ear surgery is the procedure that allows the correction of protruding ears :

  • It can be performed in children as in adults
  • It can be performed from the age of 7 years, at this age, the ears are almost fully grown.
  • The treatment of protruding ears (otoplasty) can only be surgical.
  • The intervention aims to permanently correct protruding ears by reshaping the cartilage, in order “restick” ears and obtain a symmetrical and natural appearance.

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Why have an otoplasty?


Protruding ears are a common minor malformation,

  • Which generally associates the absence of a well defined antihelical fold, and a valgus of the concha.
  • and separation of the flag relative to the neck
  • Uni- or bilateral, this malformation is often asymmetrical.

The consultation: 


During the first consultation, your surgeon should be aware of your desires and after the examination he will inform you of the different possibilities adapted to your case.

Photographs will be made in order to follow the morphological evolution of your ears.

What happens during an otoplasty?


  • Duration of the operation: the operation lasts 30 to 60 minutes, depending whether one or both ears are treated.
  • Hospitalization: outpatient (you enter and leave the clinic the same day). Hospitalization takes place the morning of surgery while fasting.

Type of anesthesia: local potentiated (Diaz-analgesia). In children, general anesthesia may be needed if the child is too fearful. Otherwise the anesthesia could be merely local.

  • Some drugs favoring the bleeding should not be taken during the 10 days preceding the intervention (aspirin, anti-inflammatory, anti-coagulants,...)
  • Some drugs can be taken before surgery to reduce swelling and post-operative bruising.
  • The head and the hair should be carefully washed the day before the operation
  • For boys, a very short hair cut is desirable. (For girls, a ponytail is ok)

Following the intervention: 


There are usually bruises and edema (swelling) of the ears that disappear in two to three weeks.

  • The stitches are removed after 2 weeks.
  • Until the removal of the threads, a protective headband should be worn day and night; then, it is still kept for 2 weeks only at night.
  • During this period, physical and sports activities with risk of contact should be avoided.
  • Returning to work / courses can take place the day after surgery,
  • But a medical leave up to 15 days may be necessary, especially if the profession does not allow the wearing of the headband.
  • Exposure to cold is not recommended for at least two months in view of the risk of frostbite due to the transient decrease in the sensitivity of the ears.

The risks of an otoplasty:


Otoplasty, although carried out primarily for aesthetic reasons, remains a surgery carrying the same risks any medical procedure, however small it may be. We must distinguish the complications related to the surgery and those related to anesthesia.

Regarding surgery:

  • The vast majority of interventions happen without any problems and patients are fully satisfied with their result.
  • Although rare, complications could include: slight asymmetry, small irregularities, narrowing of the orifice of the ear canal, feeling of the deep stitches.
  • These small defects, when they exist, are usually discreet and do not attract attention.
  • They remain accessible to a small "touch" that will be mostly under local anesthesia.
  • Hematoma or infection may occur, as after any intervention, even if they are exceptional (for antibiotics relay).
  • Skin necrosis is exceptional (because of the jeopardization of the vascularization of the thin skin of the ear)
  • The appearance of a keloid scar (raised, behind the ear). Its occurrence requires intra-incisional injection of a corticosteroid. This risk is much more common in patients with pigmented skin (especially dark skin) and those who have already had keloid scars.

Regarding anesthesia:

  • During the consultation, the anesthetist will inform the patient himself of the anesthetic risks.
  • These risks are extremely low, since it is a local anesthetic (possibly potentiated).

The scars of an otoplasty:


The scars will be hidden behind the ears.

  • In some cases, additional small incisions will be made in front of the ear,
  • but they will then be hidden in natural folds.
  • It should be noted that the hair won’t be cut at any time.

cicatrice otoplastie  cicatrices otoplastie

The results:


The final shape of the ears can be judged only after 3 months and the final appearance of scars after 6 months.

  • This is the time needed for the tissues to relax and for all the edema to subside.
  • After that time, only the scars will still be a little pink and indurated.
  • The intervention will most often be effective in correcting these anomalies
  • The results are definitive.
  • The results of the intervention persists for life, since it acts on the cartilage architecture of the ear that is reshaped to the desired form.

Information Sheet SoFCPRE (Société Française de Chirurgie Plastique Reconstructrice et Esthétique)

Last update of this page : 06-06-2019