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Otoplasty (Ear Surgery)

Ear surgery can improve the shape, position or proportion of the ear. It can correct a defect in the ear structure that is present at birth, or it can treat misshapen ears caused by injury. Correcting prominent ears or reducing the size of ears is an elective procedure that can greatly enhance appearance and self esteem. It’s often performed in childhood, after age 6, though it can be done in adults as well with similar success. As with all elective surgeries, it’s important to have realistic expectations. In the case of children, it’s especially important that no procedure be performed unless the child understands what will happen and wants the surgery.

About the Procedure
To move the ears closer to the head, the surgeon makes in incision at the back of the ear close to the head and sculpts the exposed cartilage so the ear can be bent back. Permanent stitches may be used to hold the ear in place. In another technique, the surgeon uses stitches to fold the cartilage back on itself without removing any portion of the cartilage. In most cases, surgery takes one to two  hours. General anesthesia is used, especially with children, though with older youngsters and adults local anesthesia may be used along with a sedative.

The head remains bandaged after surgery for one week to help with healing and molding the ears. Then the bandage is replaced with a type of headband. There may be some pain and headaches for a few days that can be easily managed with medication. Stitches dissolve or can be removed in a week. They’ll leave a faint scar that will fade over time. Adults can resume their regular work schedule after five days. Children can go back to school after a week or so, provided they avoid physical activity at first. Also, any motion that might bend the ears is to be avoided for at least 6 weeks.

A small number of patients may develop a blood clot in the ear as a result of surgery. This can be removed with a needle if it does not dissolve on its own. Occasionally a patient develops an infection in the cartilage, but this is easily treated with antibiotics.

Contact Us

OMC's plastic surgery department can be reached Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM (except on holidays), at:

tel: 507.529.6740 

fax: 507.529.6741

Mailing address:

Olmsted Medical Center
Attn: Plastic Surgery 
1650 Fourth Street SE 
Rochester, MN 55904

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