Ear surgery, or otoplasty, refers to plastic surgery procedures performed to correct protruding, over-sized, or deformed ears. This is a cosmetic and/or reconstructive surgery that can fix aesthetic issues or birth defects, as well as deformities due to injury and differences in ear shape and size. The surgery changes the appearance of the external ear in both children and adults. After the ears have grown to 85- to 90-percent of their adult size, usually around age five or six, the procedure can be performed to reconstruct the ears’ shape, size, and position.

Otoplasty and Ear Pin-back before and after Hilger Face Center Minneapolis and Edina


The exact details of the procedure depend on the individual’s goals and concerns. For protruding ears, the surgeon will make small incisions behind the ears to trim, remove, and reshape the cartilage. The ears are then secured with sutures so that they lie closer to the head. Other deformities or shape issues can be corrected by removing skin and cartilage through incisions in the front of the ear or otoplasty. In both cases, scars are barely visible. Children’s surgery is performed under general anesthetic. The surgery typically takes about two to three hours.

At the end of the procedure, a soft protective bandage is applied and this remains in place for 2 to 5 days. We generally then ask patients to wear a light elastic headband at night for an additional three weeks to minimize the risk of inadvertently putting traction on the ear or otoplasty.


Otoplasty can reshape and reposition the ears so that they’re in proportion to the rest of the face. This can bolster confidence and reduce or negate the psychological effects associated with teasing and bullying.

Otoplasty before and after, Hilger Face Center Minneapolis and Edina


We all care about our appearance and occasionally one facial feature may be out of proportion to the rest of the face and can make you feel self conscious.

Prominent or deformed ears can be embarrassing for children and adults and the subject of teasing that can leave lifelong scars. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that cosmetic ear procedures made up 45 percent of all plastic surgeries performed on children ages 18 and under in 2012. There’s a reason why this age group accounts for so many otoplasty procedures: improving large or protruding ears early on can spare children the teasing that can occur and dramatically improve their self-confidence.

Otoplasty is a cosmetic surgery specifically designed to improve the shape, position or portion of the ear. It can change a defect in the ear structure that was present at birth or disfigured in an injury caused by an accident or prior surgery.

Ear surgery in adults is generally the same as in children; however, there are some special considerations. The cartilage in the ear is especially pliable at younger ages, making it particularly amenable to surgery. As we age, the ear cartilage becomes much firmer and, as an adult, it is often less pliable. Techniques to weaken the cartilage may be needed. Nevertheless, adult patients still can expect excellent results from otoplasty. The procedure can usually be performed as an outpatient under local or mild sedation anesthesia.

Plastic surgery can create a natural shape out of large and protruding ears and, at the same time, bring balance and proportion to your face, as well as increase the self-esteem you have longed for since childhood. It is important to consider that otoplasty should be a personal decision that you make for yourself.

Most otoplasty takes about two hours depending on the extent of the correction involved in each individual case. If you are in good health and void of any life-threatening illnesses and medical conditions, otoplasty could be the ideal surgery for you.

  • Following surgery, a bulky bandage will be wrapped around the head, covering the ears. Associated with this, there will be a fair amount of pressure.
  • A mild amount of pain and discomfort will also be associated with surgery. This can be easily managed with oral medications following surgery as prescribed by your doctor. Most children require only plain Tylenol, and Tylenol with Codeine for adults is always sufficient.
  • The discomfort should begin decreasing within 48 hours of surgery and an increase in pain following that requires that you contact your surgeon.
  • Hairstyling and shampooing are a problem following surgery until the dressings are removed. A dry shampoo is permissible, but getting the hair wet is not recommended until the dressing is removed.
  • Leave the dressing over the ears undisturbed.
  • Take antibiotics and pain medications as prescribed by your surgeon.
  • One week following surgery, the dressings and sutures will be removed.
  • Often for children, the sutures dissolve spontaneously.
  • For an additional three weeks after surgery, a light supportive elastic band over the ears is worn at night to prevent inadvertent injury to the ears.
  • Sleep with the head elevated for the first 24-48 hours.
  • Heat and ice in the first 3 days after surgery are impractical as the bulky dressing will prevent their use.


These are approximate recovery otoplasty guidelines:

  • 1 DAY Return Home
  • 1-2 DAYS Aching, throbbing
  • 3-6 DAYS Bandage off; stitches out or dissolve

Only the most reputable and accomplished surgeon should be trusted for your ear correction procedure. Not only are experience and skill a must, the best otoplasty surgeon will have extensive training in procedures of the face, head, and neck. They should also be board-certified in Facial Plastic Surgery. Communication between doctor and patient is key. To ensure you achieve the best results, choose a surgeon who will take time to comprehensively explain the benefits and limitations of an Otoplasty procedure, helping you to develop realistic goals for your specific ear correction surgery.
Preeminent otoplasty surgeons in both Minnesota and nationally, our surgeons are accomplished physicians, teachers, and researchers with more than 30 years experience in facial cosmetic and plastic surgery. Board-certified in Facial Plastic Surgery, and frequently lecturing internationally, our surgeons are among the most elite otoplasty surgeons in the country and one of the few fellowship-trained facial plastic surgeons in the Twin Cities.

Otoplasty can transform the ears so that they are in proportion to the face. Because surgeons can accurately estimate the eventual size of a child’s ears, future growth won’t interfere with the procedure. With precise techniques, the results appear natural and are typically permanent.

There are risks inherent with any surgery, however, they are minimal with otoplasty. The surgeon works on the external ear only and hearing is not affected. If post-surgical instructions are closely followed, the chances of complications or noticeable scarring decrease greatly. Risks include abnormal scar tissue, (which can often be corrected), hematoma, and the recurrence of ear protrusion.

After surgery, the patient is usually given medication to control the pain, as well as a head dressing that is worn for several days. Bruising, swelling and mild pain may occur but diminish quickly. If traditional sutures are used, they are removed approximately one week later. A headband may be worn at night for several weeks. Many people return to work or school after 7 to 10 days.

Regarding your child’s upcoming surgery, we would advise only that you should be careful about sun exposure in the weeks before surgery as the inflammation from the sunburn can create and increase discomfort and persistent redness of the skin after surgery. Other than that, we don’t have any particular precautions. We generally advise that conversations regarding the surgery be very relaxed and positive as the surgery is relatively straightforward with a rapid recovery and it is important not to generate any great fear or anxiety before the procedure. The surgery provides a very nice enhancement that is not obvious to casual observers.

In otoplasty, the ears are re-contoured and placed so that they rest closer to the head. Typically, a light compressive bandage is worn for two to five days and then the bandage is removed in the office. The new contour of the ear is immediately apparent. The sutures are placed in the back side of the ear and dissolve within approximately a week to 10 days. You’re allowed to shampoo your hair at three to five days after surgery. At night we have you wear a light elastic hair band that protects the ears, but otherwise during the daytime no protection or coverage is used and you’re able to style your hair in a normal fashion and return to your normal activities.

Prominent ears are common and can be remarkably improved with a straight forward surgical procedure called an otoplasty. With an otoplasty, an incision is made on the back side of the ear, and the cartilaginous framework of the ear is re-shaped to give the ear a much more flattering contour. This procedure is gratifying for both the patient and surgeon in that it makes a flattering appearance change with hidden incisions and the changes are permanent.

Your question regarding recovery for a child after otoplasty is very appropriate given their social and academic environment. We have a light bandage that the patient wears for 3 to 5 days after surgery and then we have them wear a gentle protective band over their ears for sleep. The child should be able to return to social and academic endeavors at about a week after surgery. As for physical activity, we do restrict anything that can abrade or pull on the ear for 3 to 4 weeks.

An otoplasty, or ear surgery, is performed as an outpatient procedure. On children, it is generally performed under general anesthesia. On young adults or mature adults, the surgery can be performed under sedation anesthesia and it takes about an hour and a half and has a very expeditious recovery.

Otoplasty or ear surgery (or plastic reconstructive of the ears or plastic surgery) of the ear reshapes the ear to achieve a more natural appearance. This can include volume or size reduction as well as repositioning the ear. Far and away, the majority of patients who feel that they have large ears have ears that are of normal vertical proportion yet they protrude too far from the head and repositioning them close to the head makes them look smaller. Occasionally, patients have excessively long or tall ears. This is usually due to enlargement of the lower third of the soft tissue part of the ear including the lobule and reduction procedure can be performed on this with excellent results. Shortening the vertical framework of the ear is rarely required or indicated, and it’s advisable to avoid incisions that go through the skin of the outside surface of the ear as well as cartilage framework at the back of the ears. The scars tend to be somewhat visible. Occasionally, this is advisable for extremely large ears but that’s very uncommon result. In summary, often ears look too large because they protrude too far from the head, and repositioning the ear with hidden incisions on the back of the ear produces excellent results that are stable over a long period of time.

Any healthy child or adult with large, protruding, or misshapen ears, that are nearly full-sized, is potentially a good candidate. However, your surgeon will want to ensure that the patient has reasonable expectations concerning the procedure’s outcome.