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Otoplasty (Ears)

Cosmetic ear surgery is a procedure to move very large or prominent ears closer to the head.

Cosmetic ear surgery may be done in the surgeon's office, an outpatient clinic, or a hospital. It can be performed under local anesthesia, which numbs the area around the ears, or general anesthesia, which will cause you to sleep through the entire operation. The procedure usually lasts about 2 hours.

During the most common method of cosmetic ear surgery, a surgeon makes a cut in the back of the ear and removes the skin to see the ear cartilage. The cartilage is folded to reshape the ear, bringing it closer to the head. Sometimes the surgeon will cut the cartilage before folding it. Stitches are used to close the wound.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

The procedure can be done after a child reaches age 5 or 6, when ear growth is almost finished. However, if the ears are very disfigured (lop ears), the child should have surgery early to avoid possible emotional stress at school.


Complications such as blood clots and infection are uncommon.

Other risks of the procedure include:

  • Keloids and hypertrophic scars
  • Areas of numbness
  • Increased susceptibility to cold
  • Unsatisfactory results

Additional Information

Learn more about cosmetic ear surgery.