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So your ears stuck out and you had an operation and you’re still not happy. What’s the deal?

Otoplasty is a procedure that corrects deformities of your ear, most commonly ears that stick out too far. It is generally a safe, reliable procedure but there are times when complications occur or the patient is simply not happy with the result. Maybe the ears are now too close to the head. Maybe there are lumps and bumps that you don’t like. If you find yourself in a similar situation and are unhappy with the outcome of your ear surgery, what should you do?

Unhappy Otoplasty

What are the most common reasons why you could be unhappy with the results of the procedure?


The purpose of an otoplasty is to move the ears closer to the head, but sometimes they are moved too close, resulting in an unnatural appearance. The over-corrected ear can actually look worse than the prominent ears for which the patient originally had surgery. In some cases, rather than the entire ear being too close to the head, one part of the ear is too close to the head. For example, if the middle 1/3 of the ear is too close to the head relative to the upper and lower portions of the ear, an unsightly contour known as the “telephone deformity” results. This condition is named after an old fashioned telephone receiver where the handle is thinner than the receiver and speaker on the top and bottom which are larger. Once again this ear shape may appear more unnatural or unsightly than the patients originally condition.

Under correction

While much easier to correct than over-correction, under-correction is also possible, a condition where, despite surgery, the ears still stick out too much.

Scarring, skin defects

There are times when too much skin is removed on the back of the ear in hopes of keeping the ears pulled back. This can eliminate the normal space that we have behind our ears that we need to wear glasses etc.

Unnatural formation of ridges on the cartilage

Some otoplasty techniques rely on weakening the cartilage which can result in lumps, bumps, and contour irregularities on the visible surface of the ear.

What can you do?

Before anything else, it is imperative that you allow your ears enough time for the swelling to go down so you can really see the result. It usually takes about 6 weeks to see the final results of the procedure, so it is best to wait until then before deciding to do anything. If you are still unhappy with how your ears look after this period, you may want to seek an opinion regarding a reverse otoplasty

Like revision rhinoplasty, secondary operations on the ears are more difficult than the original operation. During your consultation, Dr. Thorne will counsel you on how much your ear shape can be improved. Sometimes he can restore a totally normal and pleasing ear contour but other times that is not possible and he will attempt to inform you how much of a correction he believes he can accomplish in your individual case.  

If the ears have been over-corrected he will try to release the scar tissue and remove any permanent sutures to allow the ear to move away from the head. In some cases, however, he will need to use cartilage grafts to help re-project the ears or skin grafts to replace missing skin on the back of the ear.

Dr. Thorne has been an otoplasty surgeon for more than 30 years and has successfully treated patients with complications from failed otoplasty. With him, you will be sure to have the safest possible surgery and come as close as possible to your ideal results. If you have undergone an otoplasty and are unhappy with the final results, schedule an appointment with Dr. Thorne and contact him 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