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Cryptotia is a somewhat rare congenital anomaly of the ear where the upper portion of the auricle is hidden beneath the scalp. In some cases, the contour of the hidden cartilage is totally normal and in some cases, it is misshapen and requires correction. This condition is most commonly seen in patients of Asian descent. The cause is unknown. This particular condition is not inherited; that is, it is not passed from a parent to a child.

Treatment options?

Although it does not affect hearing, patients will have difficulties wearing eyeglasses or masks. Like any ear deformity that is easy to see, cryptotia can gnaw away the person’s self-esteem. Fortunately, there are ways to treat this condition:

otplasty cryptotia

Cryptotia is a somewhat rare congenital anomaly of the ear where the upper portion of the auricle is hidden beneath the scalp. In some cases, the contour of the hidden cartilage is totally normal and in some cases, it is misshapen and requires correction. This condition is most commonly seen in patients of Asian descent. The cause is unknown. This particular condition is not inherited; that is, it is not passed from a parent to a child.

Treatment options?

Although it does not affect hearing, patients will have difficulties wearing eyeglasses or masks. Like any ear deformity that is easy to see, cryptotia can gnaw away the person’s self-esteem. Fortunately, there are ways to treat this condition:

Ear Molding

Ear molding is a non-invasive technique that can be used to treat cryptotia. This method uses an external ear shaping tool that acts as a splint to achieve the desired ear shape. Before attaching the mold, the ears are cleaned and a liquid adhesive is used to secure the mold in place. Ear molding is painless. However, it is important to remember that this can only be done on patients below four WEEKS old. For older patients, an otoplasty procedure will be the best option to correct this condition. 

Otoplasty

Cryptotia can be repaired by ear surgery known as otoplasty. It is typically safe for children four years old and above to undergo otoplasty. Furthermore, Dr. Thorne specializes in plastic surgery of the ears and is experienced in performing otoplasty to treat children and adults with cryptotia. The surgeon will most likely create an incision along with the depression that is behind the ear where a portion of the auricle is hidden. After that, it may require skin grafts or a flap of skin to lift the ear from the side of your head. In severe cases, the surgeon might need to make use of cartilage graft in order to provide support for the ear.

The goal of this procedure is to:

  • To release or retract the buried portion of your auricle from under the skin
  • To restore your auriculocephalic sulcus or the depression between your upper ear and the side of your head 
  • Recontour your cartilage
  • Cover the released parts of your cartilage with the use of local skin grafts or flaps.

If you or your child have cryptotia, you can contact us and set an appointment online here. Dr. Thorne is an expert in ear surgery and cares for patients with microtia, prominent ears, excessively large ears, Stahl’s ear, and post-traumatic deformities of the ear. He makes use of only the best otoplasty techniques and determines which method is best to treat the areas of your ear that you wish to correct. 

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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