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Are you considering having plastic surgery of the ears? If so, here are some of the things you should know about the ear surgery known as otoplasty.

Otoplasty is a plastic surgery procedure on the ears that corrects excessive ear protrusion, excessive ear size, and/or corrects imperfections in the shape or contour of the ears. In the most common situation, the ears are of normal size and shape but protrude too far from the head. In those cases, otoplasty involves ear pinning or simply moving the ears closer to the head. In other cases, the otoplasty may involve ear pinning as described above but also involve other maneuvers to make your ears fit your face. An ear on a tall man may look perfect but that same ear on a small woman may look too prominent or too large.  

Know About Otoplasty Are you considering having plastic surgery of the ears? If so, here are some of the things you should know about the ear surgery known as otoplasty.

Otoplasty is a plastic surgery procedure on the ears that corrects excessive ear protrusion, excessive ear size, and/or corrects imperfections in the shape or contour of the ears. In the most common situation, the ears are of normal size and shape but protrude too far from the head. In those cases, otoplasty involves ear pinning or simply moving the ears closer to the head. In other cases, the otoplasty may involve ear pinning as described above but also involve other maneuvers to make your ears fit your face. An ear on a tall man may look perfect but that same ear on a small woman may look too prominent or too large.  

So, if you are considering having an otoplasty, here are some of the important things that you should know. 

Can you choose to have otoplasty on only one ear?

Yes. Usually, the surgeon will recommend surgery on both ears in order to create the best possible symmetry, but there are definitely times when a unilateral otoplasty (ear surgery on one side) is appropriate. Patients often say they want just one ear repaired but once they have been educated by the surgeon they realize that both ears are slightly prominent. On the other hand, there are times when only one ear requires surgical attention.

At what age can someone get an otoplasty?

There is really no ideal age. Otoplasty is performed at almost any age. Most surgeons will not perform the procedure before 4 years of age, but many, many patients do not see a surgeon for otoplasty until later in life. Often parents minimize a child/s concerns only to have him/her appear at age 18 to demand surgery! Otoplasty is also often performed in the 20s and 30s when patients get jobs and can afford the procedure or at the same time as a facelift in the 40s, 50s, or 60s. An otoplasty on a young child will require general anesthesia, whereas teenagers and adults can have the procedure under local anesthesia.

Is it a high-risk surgery?

Otoplasty is generally predictable and most patients are very satisfied, and often ecstatic, with the results. There is some post-operative discomfort for a few days that is usually managed with Tylenol and NSAIDS (like Advil, Motrin, etc.) An occasional patient will require opioids for the first 48 hours.

What happens during surgery and recovery?

Most otoplasties are approached through an incision behind the ear that almost always heals inconspicuously. On rare occasions, the incision results in a raised, unsightly scar known as a hypertrophic scar that requires additional maneuvers. Other otoplasties require an incision on the visible surface of the ear, just inside the rim, which is almost never visible after healing.

Most surgeons like a bandage on the head for several days. Once the bandage is removed, some surgeons recommend a headband for use at night. Patients with long hair can return to work or school when the dressing is removed because the hair will cover the swollen ears. Patients with short hair will probably not feel totally comfortable in public for about 2 weeks. Most surgeons advise refraining from swimming and full athletic activities for 3 weeks. The ears will remain a little numb for several months before they feel completely normal.

If you wish to undergo this procedure, be sure to speak with a surgeon that has a lot of experience.

If you would like to talk to an expert, Dr. Charles Thorne has been a cosmetic surgeon in New York City since 1989. He specializes in Otoplasty and other facial procedures and has been reconstructing and reshaping ears for more than 30 years. If you are interested, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation.

In The Media


Dr. Thorne is consistently highlighted in every publication profiling the Best Doctors in Manhattan or the Best Doctors in the entire United States. He has been featured in the New York Times multiple years running, as well as America's Top Doctors, and has hosted a radio show on plastic surgery alongside dermatologist Dr. Linda Franks.


  • New York Best Doctors 2019
  • New York Best Doctors 2017
  • New York Best Doctors 2014
  • New York Best Doctors 2008


  • New York Best Doctors 2005
  • Americas Top Doctors 2002
  • Castle Connolly 10th
  • Castle Connolly 6th

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