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What you need to know about Ear Reshaping (Otoplasty)

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Otoplasty is the medical term for ear reshaping or plastic surgery of the external ear.   

This ear reshaping procedure is often done on children who have been born with a cosmetic defect of one or both of their ears.  This defect may be visible from birth or may become apparent as the child gets older.  

An otoplasty is also frequently performed on adults who have had their ears injured in an accident or who have decided they would like to correct a cosmetic situation with their ears that’s been bothering them since childhood. 


Ear reshaping can correct a variety of cosmetic irregularities, including:       

  • Ears that are unusually large in relation to the head      
  • Overly prominent or protruding ears      
  • Large or stretched earlobes      
  • Lop ear (a cosmetic situation where the tip of the ear folds down and forward)      
  • Shell ear (the curve of the outer rim of the ear as well as the natural fold and creases are missing)      
  • Cupped ear (ear that is very small)      
  • Ears that have been disfigured through accident or injury      
  • Lobes with obvious creases or wrinkles      
  • Other abnormalities in the appearance of the ear 

An experienced, board certified plastic surgeon can even build new ears for patients who have been born without the external portion of the ear or for a patient who has lost one or more of their ears through accident or injury. 

Otoplasty Procedure 

Typically, ear-reshaping surgery is performed on both ears in order to ensure symmetry between the two ears.    

The surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis.  The procedure can be performed under local anesthetic with sedation, however if the surgery is extensive or the patient is a young child, the surgeon may opt for using general anesthesia.   

In the case of protruding ears, the cartilage is reshaped to the desired look and repositioned closer to the head with stitches placed behind the ear. This procedure is called ear pinning and is a specific type of ear reshaping.  

Results of cosmetic ear reshaping are permanent and can be seen as soon as healing is complete.  Otoplasty does not alter the position of the ears nor does it affect the patient’s ability to hear. 

Healing and Recovery 

The amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals. Usually, the patient will be able to return to work (or school) in 7 to 10 days following surgery, and can get back to sports, exercise, and the gym in 4 to 6 weeks.  The patient or their parent or guardian should check with the surgeon before the patient engages in any rough physical activity or contact sport. 



* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.