The Procedure

Otoplasty or cosmetic ear surgery is done for repositioning/“tucking” prominent ears or asymmetric ears to make them less noticeable or less projecting. This may also include addressing large or improperly folded or malformed ears, to create a more proportional size, and pleasing naturally appearing ears. If you have been teased or are bothered by the way your ears stick out from your head, or if you have ear deformities due to birth defects or injury, then otoplasty can help change the shape, size, and position of your ears without affecting your hearing. Achieving symmetry and a more “normal” appearing ear helps boost self-esteem, and readily permits ponytails, or hairstyles that showcase the ears.

This procedure is commonly performed in both children and adults. Usually children should be at least 5 years old, which corresponds to the time of increased peer-to-peer interactions (kindergarten) and the ear size is near 70-80% of adult size at this time. Otoplasty (ear pinning) may be needed to correct prominent ears and/or congenital abnormalities that lead to a child being teased or bullied in school. This can cause greater psychological effects in a child, which is why ear pinning at an early age when body consciousness is not yet fully set-in is advisable. Older children, or adults may also seek this procedure and recover quickly as well. In some young infants (“neonates”) improperly folded ears can be molded into normal position. If you are concerned about your newborns ear, please ask us about ear molding as well. (this only works for the first couple months of life).

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Otoplasty can be done to correct the following:

  • Prominent ears
  • Ear shape problems
  • Large or asymmetric ears
  • Disproportionate ears
  • Asymmetries or problems from previous ear surgery
  • Lop ear, cupped or shell ear, stahl’s ear and unnatural creases

Before the Procedure: What to Expect

Dr. Steinbacher will examine your ears, take measurements, and discuss your goals and objectives. Past history and medical conditions (such as ear infections) that may affect the procedure will be reviewed. We may ask you to avoid certain medications prior to this procedure, and adults will stop smoking. The risks of this procedure are minimal, and we will discuss the risks, benefits at your consultation. We will ensure to be on the same page regarding your expectations and your goals for the procedure.

This is a day surgery where you are in and out as an out-patient. A light general anesthesia is utilized and your ears will be numbed during the procedure, making the pain minimal for the first few hours postoperatively. The approach is behind the ear in the crease, so the scar is well-hidden. Dissolving sutures are used on the skin, and do not need to be removed.

After the Procedure: How to Recover

To protect and support your ears after surgery, they will place a light “wrap” or bandage. We like to keep this for 5 days and see you to remove it. Sleep with your head elevated and avoid significant pressure overlying the ears. It is helpful to wear loose-fitting collars or button-down shirts for ease on and off over the dressing.

After we remove the dressing, we have you wear a sports or tennis type headband for the next week. Afterwards, you will wear the headband only at night, for a couple months. You can get the sites wet once the initial bandage is removed, and we like gentle warm soap and water, followed by an antibiotic ointment. You will be instructed as to when you can resume school and work, but it is usually soon following surgery. We do ask that you refrain from swimming and diving for at least 6 weeks after otoplasty.