Ear Reshaping Can Correct Deformities Through Surgery

The Center for Facial Aesthetics at University Hospitals Department of Plastic Surgery specializes in surgical reshaping of the ear (otoplasty) to correct an anatomic deformity.

The cartilage defines the shape of the ear. Changing the shape of the cartilage in the ear will change its shape. The general principle of otoplasty is that the skin is lifted off of the cartilage, the cartilage is reshaped and/or repositioned, and then the skin is replaced.

Patient History and Examination

Before reshaping of the ear, the surgeon does a thorough evaluation and examination of the patient.

Potential otoplasty patients (or their parents, in the case of a child) will be asked questions about overall health, their goals for surgery, and psychological impact of the protruding ears.

The doctor will look at the ears to determine exactly how they differ from “normal” ears. The surgeon will feel the ears to check the strength of the cartilage. Photographs are taken for surgical planning and to be able to compare the “before” and “after” appearance of the ears.

Ideal Candidates for Ear Reshaping Surgery

Ear reshaping surgery can be performed at any age after the ears have reached full size. Frequently, the procedure is done before the child enters first grade (over age 5). At this point, the ear is large enough to perform the surgery, but the child has not had exposure to children who may make fun of the child’s abnormal ears.

Another reason a child at this age is an ideal candidate is the cartilage is softer and therefore easier to reshape. However, ear reshaping surgery can also be performed in a teenager or an adult.

Performing Ear Reshaping Surgery

Otoplasty is almost always done as an outpatient unless a patient has other medical problems. Children have surgery under general anesthesia, whereas adults have the procedure under local, local with sedation, or a general anesthetic.

Following otoplasty, a bandage is usually placed which is kept in position for a period of time based on surgeon preference. The bandage is removed in the doctor’s office in one week.

Strenuous activities will have to be curtailed by the patients for three weeks after the surgery. The patients will be advised to avoid consumption of aspirin and NSAIDS for three weeks before and a week after surgery.