Cosmetic/Reconstructive Surgery Of The Ears
(Otoplasty Surgical Instructions)

Otoplasty facts

  • Otoplasty is performed to improve the appearance and function of the ear.
  • Otoplasty is safe and effective.
  • Otoplasty can improve one's self image.

Cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the external ear is often performed to repair cosmetic or defects resulting from injury. The most common procedure is otoplasty which is done to correct prominent ("dumbo") ears in children. The goal of this type of surgery is to improve both the functional and cosmetic appearance of the ears. Frequently, psychological trauma is associated with such features.

You should discuss freely with your doctor your cosmetic concerns and expectations. In turn, your surgeon will discuss his/her recommendations and any particular limitations set forth by the preoperative structure of your ears, face, and skin. Preoperative and postoperative photographs will usually be taken to help with preoperative planning and to document postoperative results.

The following instructions are designed to help you, or your child, recover from cosmetic/reconstructive surgery of the ears (otoplasty) as easily as possible. Taking care of yourself, or your child, can prevent complications. It is very important that you read these instructions and follow them carefully.

What are risks and complications of cosmetic ear surgery?

Your surgery will be performed safely and with care in order to obtain the best possible results. The following complications have been reported in the medical literature. This list is not meant to be inclusive of every possible complication. It is here for your information only, not to frighten you, but to make you aware and more knowledgeable concerning this surgical procedure.

  1. Infection of the skin or of the cartilage (chondritis) of the ear.
  2. Bleeding or hematoma formation.
  3. A cosmetic or functional result that does not meet your expectations. An unfavorable result may occur at any time following surgery, and includes inadequate correction, recurrence, contour distortions, or asymmetric correction, all of which may require secondary surgery.
  4. Permanent or temporary numbness of the skin of the ear or face.
  5. Scar or keloid formation, which is an overgrowth of scar tissue.
  6. Prolonged pain, impaired healing, and the need for hospitalization.
  7. Narrowing of the external ear canal.
  8. Suture extrusion. When permanent sutures are used to maintain shape, they may become evident through the skin and may eventually require removal.
  9. If the surgery is being done because of a tumor, there can be recurrence of the tumor and the need for additional surgery or other therapeutic modalities including radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/28/2014