Ear surgery, or otoplasty, is usually done to set prominent ears back closer to the head or to reduce size of large ears.
Ear surgery usually takes about two to three hours, although complicated procedures may take longer. The technique will depend on the problem.
With one of the more common techniques, the surgeon makes a small incision in the back of the ear to expose the ear cartilage. He or she will then sculpt the cartilage and bend it back toward the head. Non-removable stitches may be used to help maintain the new shape. Occasionally, the surgeon will remove a larger piece of cartilage to provide a more natural-looking fold when the surgery is complete.
Another technique involves a similar incision in the back of the ear. Skin is removed and stitches are used to fold the cartilage back on itself to reshape the ear without removing cartilage.
In most cases, ear surgery will leave a faint scar in the back of the ear that will fade with time. Even when only one ear appears to protrude, surgery is usually performed on both ears for a better balance.
Other Ear Problems
Besides protruding ears, there are a variety of other ear problems that can be helped with surgery. These include:
- “lop ear” when the top seems to fold down and forward
- “cupped ear” which is usually a very small ear
- “shell ear” when the curve in the outer rim, as well as the natural folds and creases are missing.
Surgery can also improve large or stretched earlobes, or lobes with large creases and wrinkles. Surgeons can even build new ears for those who were born without them or who lost them through injury.