Have you ever seen an extra growth of flesh on, or just in front of, your ear or someone else’s? Those bumps are more than just skin tags; they usually contain skin and cartilage (and the cartilage component can go quite deep into the cheek). In some cases there is an associated tiny opening the leads to a cavity under the skin. These bumps are called pre-auricular skin tags

Removing ear skin tags with otoplasty

Have you ever seen an extra growth of flesh on, or just in front of, your ear or someone else’s? Those bumps are more than just skin tags; they usually contain skin and cartilage (and the cartilage component can go quite deep into the cheek). In some cases there is an associated tiny opening the leads to a cavity under the skin. These bumps are called pre-auricular skin tags

This type of growth is not harmful but they will not go away on their own. Most people choose to have them removed. Frequently parents of young children opt to have them removed under general anesthesia in early childhood. In patients who still have them in adulthood, they can be removed by themselves or in conjunction with other ear procedures such as otoplasty

What are the causes?

During fetal development of an ear, six little bumps called hillocks fuse together miraculously to form an ear. In the rare situation where they fuse incorrectly an ear with abnormal contour results. The most minor example is one of the pre-auricular skin/cartilage tags mentioned above. This extra appendage is made of skin, fat and cartilage. We do not know why these imperfections occur but when you think of how often ears look normal, it’s not surprising that occasionally there are minor problems. 

How to identify a skin tag?

Any extra skin that is present at birth is almost always one of the skin/cartilage remnants mentioned above. If a skin tag develops later in life then it probably only contains skin and can be clipped off. 

How does otoplasty remove ear skin tags?

There are home remedies like tying dental floss around it but this method is not recommended. Also, this will not remove the cartilage component under the skin. The best way is to have the entire skin/cartilage protuberance removed by a plastic surgeon. Removing the lesion by itself may lead to bleeding or infection but will almost always lead to incomplete removal. 

In patients who have an associated skin opening, these should be removed along with the cavity under the skin because they can become infected later in life. 

Removing pre-auricular remnants usually takes Dr. Thorne about 30 minutes. In adults it can be performed under local anesthesia. Since the cartilage component can extend deep in the cheek there is a theoretical possibility of injuring the facial nerve during the procedure, another reason to have the procedure performed by an experienced ear plastic surgeon

Dr. Thorne has been an otoplasty expert for more than three decades now and has successfully performed procedures on both adults and infants. If you would like to schedule an appointment with him, just click here

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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