WHAT IS AN Otoplasty?

Ear Correction or Otoplasty is a simple procedure which can correct torn earlobes or, more commonly, reposition protruding ears closer to the head. Although this operation can also be performed on children aged 5 years and over, The London Welbeck Hospital will not admit anyone under the age of 18.

This surgery is very common amongst both men and women who have been uncomfortable with the shape and position of their ears for years. Many people find that they have always grown long hair as a means of covering their ears and that protruding ears have been a source of embarrassment all their lives. This procedure is very straightforward and quick, and afterwards it’s possible to have that haircut that has always been dreamed of!

The operation is takes place through an incision made at the back of the ear, which exposes the cartilage to be operated on. It is then sculpted, removed or folded, depending upon what is needed, to make the ear look more aesthetically pleasing. Sutures are used to stitch the cartilage together. The procedure takes about 1 to 2 hours and is usually performed under general or local anaesthetic.

  1. Consultation with a Plastic Surgeon: Schedule a consultation with a qualified plastic surgeon who specializes in otoplasty. During this consultation, discuss your goals, concerns, and expectations for the surgery. The surgeon will evaluate your ears, medical history, and overall health to determine if you are a suitable candidate for otoplasty.

  2. Pre-operative Evaluation: Your surgeon will conduct a thorough examination of your ears, taking measurements and assessing the shape, position, and symmetry. They may also take photographs for reference.

  3. Medical Evaluation: Provide your surgeon with a complete medical history, including any past surgeries, medications, allergies, or pre-existing medical conditions. It is important to disclose this information to ensure your safety during the procedure.

  4. Discussion of Expectations: Communicate your desired outcomes and expectations clearly with your surgeon. This will help them understand your goals and develop a surgical plan tailored to your needs.

  5. Follow Pre-operative Instructions: Your surgeon will provide specific pre-operative instructions to follow. This may include guidelines for fasting before surgery, discontinuing certain medications or supplements that could interfere with the surgery or recovery, and avoiding smoking or alcohol consumption for a certain period of time.

  6. Arrange for Support: Plan for someone to accompany you on the day of the surgery and assist you during the initial recovery phase. You may need assistance with transportation, household chores, and daily activities during the first few days following the procedure.

  7. Lifestyle Adjustments: Your surgeon may recommend certain lifestyle adjustments before the surgery. This can include avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke, maintaining a healthy diet, and staying hydrated to promote optimal healing.

  8. Finalize Details: Ensure that you have a clear understanding of the surgical plan, including the technique to be used, expected recovery timeline, and any potential risks or complications. Address any remaining questions or concerns with your surgeon before proceeding with the surgery.

During an otoplasty procedure, several steps are involved to reshape and reposition the ears. Here is an overview of the typical procedure:

  1. Anesthesia: Otoplasty can be performed under local anesthesia with sedation or general anesthesia, depending on the complexity of the procedure and the patient’s preference. Your surgeon will discuss the best option for you.

  2. Incision Placement: The surgeon will make incisions behind the ears, usually within the natural creases where the ear meets the head. This allows for discreet placement and minimizes visible scarring.

  3. Cartilage Reshaping: The surgeon will access the underlying ear cartilage through the incisions. Depending on the desired outcome, different techniques can be employed. For prominent or protruding ears, the cartilage may be sculpted and repositioned closer to the head. For ears with excess cartilage, a portion may be removed to reduce their size. If asymmetry is present, the surgeon will work to create a balanced and symmetrical appearance.

  4. Suture Placement: Once the cartilage has been reshaped or repositioned, the surgeon will use internal sutures to secure the cartilage in its new position. These sutures help maintain the desired shape and hold the ear in place.

  5. Incision Closure: The incisions are carefully closed with sutures, and the skin is meticulously reapproximated to promote proper healing. In some cases, absorbable sutures may be used, eliminating the need for suture removal.

  6. Dressings and Bandages: After the incisions are closed, the surgeon will apply a protective dressing or bandages around the ears. This helps support the newly reshaped ears and protects the surgical site during the initial healing phase.

  7. Recovery: Following the procedure, you will be taken to a recovery area where you will be monitored until you are fully awake. Your surgeon may provide specific instructions on how to care for the surgical site, manage discomfort, and promote optimal healing.

Aftercare and proper recovery are essential for successful healing and optimal results following an otoplasty procedure. Here are some key points to keep in mind:


  1. Dressings and Bandages: Your surgeon will provide specific instructions regarding the care of dressings and bandages placed around the ears. These may need to be kept in place for a few days to support the reshaped ears and protect the surgical site. Follow your surgeon’s instructions for when and how to remove or change them.

  2. Pain Management: It is normal to experience some discomfort, swelling, and mild pain after otoplasty. Your surgeon may prescribe pain medications or recommend over-the-counter pain relievers to manage any discomfort. Take the prescribed medications as directed and follow your surgeon’s advice regarding pain management.

  3. Head Elevation: Keeping your head elevated, especially while sleeping, can help reduce swelling and promote proper healing. Use additional pillows or sleep in a recliner for the first few days following surgery.

  4. Avoid Pressure and Trauma: Avoid any activities that may put pressure on or cause trauma to the ears during the recovery period. Be cautious while dressing, washing your hair, or engaging in any activities that could potentially impact the surgical site.

  5. Medications and Supplements: Follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding any prescribed medications, including antibiotics or topical ointments. Additionally, inform your surgeon about any supplements or herbal medications you are taking, as they may interfere with the healing process.

  6. Physical Activity and Rest: It is important to avoid strenuous activities, heavy lifting, and exercise for a few weeks after surgery. Engaging in these activities too soon could potentially disrupt the healing process and lead to complications. Follow your surgeon’s recommendations for a gradual return to normal activities.

  7. Follow-up Appointments: Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your surgeon. These visits are crucial for monitoring your healing progress, removing any sutures if necessary, and addressing any concerns or questions you may have.

  8. Final Results: It takes time for the full results of otoplasty to become apparent. While there may be initial improvements, it can take several weeks or even months for the swelling to fully subside and for the ears to settle into their new position. Be patient and follow your surgeon’s post-operative care instructions to ensure the best possible outcome.

WHAT they say


The duration of otoplasty surgery can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the specific techniques employed. On average, the procedure typically takes around one to two hours to complete.

Otoplasty can be performed under local anesthesia with sedation or general anesthesia, depending on the patient’s preference and the surgeon’s recommendation. The choice of anesthesia will be discussed and decided upon during the pre-operative consultation.

Incisions for otoplasty are typically made behind the ears, within the natural creases, or within the inner folds of the ears. This placement helps minimize the visibility of scars. Over time, scars tend to fade and become less noticeable.

Otoplasty is generally well-tolerated by patients, and any discomfort experienced can be managed with prescribed pain medications. Some post-operative soreness, swelling, and mild discomfort can be expected, but these symptoms typically subside within a few days to weeks.

Recovery time can vary from patient to patient, but most individuals can expect to resume normal activities within one to two weeks after otoplasty. It is recommended to avoid strenuous activities and contact sports for about six weeks to allow for proper healing.

Your surgeon may advise you to wear a headband or dressing after otoplasty to protect the ears and aid in the healing process. This will help maintain the new ear shape and minimize swelling. Follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding the duration and use of any dressings or headbands.

While there will be immediate improvements in the appearance of the ears after surgery, it can take several weeks or months for the final results to fully manifest. Swelling will gradually subside, and the ears will settle into their new position over time.

As with any surgical procedure, there are potential risks and complications, although they are relatively rare. These may include infection, bleeding, hematoma, poor wound healing, asymmetry, scarring, changes in sensation, or dissatisfaction with the aesthetic outcome. It is important to discuss these potential risks with your surgeon prior to the procedure.

related procedures