Ear correction surgery (otoplasty) is a procedure that corrects deformities of the external ear.  It is used most often when the ears stick out too far or appear to be too large for the head.

Fast Facts

  • If only one ear protrudes both ears are altered in order to ensure they balance.
  • The surgery usually takes about an hour.
  • You’ll have to sleep on your back for a week so you don’t put any pressure on your ears.

Absolutely anyone with prominent ears is a candidate for this procedure.

Reasons for choosing to have ear correction surgery

Ear correction surgery is a very common procedure and can involve various types of re-shaping of the external ear. The two most common procedures either brings the ears closer to the head (commonly called ear pinning), or makes the ears smaller by reconstruction. Because ears are one of the first parts of the body to develop to their full adult size from a very early age, this is a procedure that can be performed on children as young as 5 years old.

Often children are teased for having protruding ears. Adults might find it awkward to wear glasses or hats and feel reluctant to wear their hair up. If you genuinely dislike the way your ears look, this is a relatively uncomplicated procedure worth considering.

Things to consider once you’ve decided to have ear correction surgery

You must keep in mind that while ears are a prominent feature of the head and face, changing them will not necessarily alter your overall appearance. After the procedure, people may not even notice that your ears have changed at all.

If only one ear protrudes both ears are altered in order to ensure they balance.

What to expect

The length of time needed to perform this operation largely depends on the complexity of your ears. If the surgeon has a lot of ‘pinning’ to do, the operation will take more time. The surgery usually takes about an hour. Traditionally, an incision is made just behind the ear. Excess skin and cartilage is removed, and the ear is reattached. Often no skin or cartilage is removed, and the ears are simply stitched to the skin with small sutures.

Most ear correction operations are performed on an outpatient basis, which means you will more than likely be sent home a couple of hours after recovering from the effects of anaesthesia.

Before and after surgery

There are a number of things you can do leading up to any kind of surgery to improve the experience. There are also a number of things you can do following any surgery.

Specific things to do after your ear correction surgery:

  • Your surgeon may have given you instruction such as wearing a headband for a week or two in order to keep your ears held back. Make sure to do this.
  • You’ll have to sleep on your back for a week so that you don’t put any pressure on your ears.

Swelling and bruising are common after surgery, but they should start to disappear after a few days. Itching is also common as nerve endings are inevitably cut. This will resolve as the nerves regenerate. You will have a thin white scar behind your ear, which will be almost undetectable.

You should expect to be back to work and most normal activities a few days after ear correction surgery. Aerobic activities can be resumed after about 3 weeks.

Possible risks and complications

The risks associated with having an ear correction procedure are quite rare. However as with all surgery, complications can still sometimes occur.

The best way to reduce risk is to find a fully qualified surgeon with formal training in otoplasty who has performed a lot of otoplasty surgery.

Make sure you familiarise yourself with the full list of complications that could arise as a result of any surgery.

Specific complications that may occur after ear correction surgery:

  • Numbness, tightness and sensitivity of the ear area will be present immediately after the surgery and usually returns to normal after a maximum of 1 month.
  • Broken sutures can result in the ears returning to their original position.

Rough costs involved

Your surgeon, anaesthetist and hospital costs will vary, however, a rough indication on how much this procedure usually costs is somewhere between $4000 and $5000 (AUD). Some private health insurers in Australia may help with hospital bed and theatre fees. Having a doctor’s referral will enable you to claim some of the cost.

You should expect the costs to be higher if you are having combined procedures at the same time.

This information is correct as of 2019.

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