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Cosmetic surgery of the ear, or otoplasty, is an aesthetic procedure that alters the size, position, or proportion of the ears. The outcome of ear reshaping surgery varies greatly depending on the changes that are desired, but these procedures generally improve self-confidence, especially in children and teenagers. If the ears stick out, ear pinning can be performed to flatten the ears against the head. If one ear is positioned higher than the other, ear repositioning can create symmetry. Large, oversized ears can be addressed alone or in conjunction with other ear issues.

When to Consider Ear Surgery

  • If you were born with overly large or small ears
  • If your ears are disproportionate to your head or oddly placed
  • If your ears stick out prominently
  • If you have suffered an injury that has negatively impacted the shape or positioning of your ears

Are you a good candidate for ear surgery?

The following are some common reasons why you may want to consider ear surgery:

  • If your ears have reached their full size, which usually happens around age six. Children are common patients for this procedure.
  • A set-back otoplasty, which is a procedure to reduce the prominence of ears that stick out too much, can be performed on adults as well as children.

If you are in good general health, have a positive attitude and realistic expectations, you are most likely a good candidate for this procedure.

How is a ear surgery procedure performed?

In children, the cartilage is soft enough that splints can be used for contouring during surgery. This is typically done under general anesthesia. Adults, however, have harder cartilage, and the procedure must be carried out by removing or repositioning cartilage after making a small incision in the ear.

Depending on your anatomy and desired changes, your doctor may make an incision hidden inside or behind the ear. Extra cartilage or soft tissue that makes the ear "stick out" too much can be removed. If normal folds are missing from the ear, they can be re-created by shaping the cartilage with permanent sutures or scraping the cartilage to contour it. Sometimes a combination of techniques is needed to get the desired result.