Cosmetic Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)
Also known as otoplasty, cosmetic ear surgery can improve the shape, position or proportion of the ear. It can correct a defect in the ear structure that is present at birth, such as overly large ears or protruding ears, and can also treat ear shape that becomes more noticeable with development or misshapen ears caused by injury.
Surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center perform ear surgery techniques that create a natural shape, while bringing balance and proportion to the ears and face. Correction of even minor deformities can improve appearance and boost self-esteem.
Before & After Photos
Am I candidate for cosmetic ear surgery (otoplasty)?
Cosmetic ear surgery is a highly individualized procedure, with the best results achieved through a thorough consultation with your cosmetic surgeon. A surgeon from Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center will be able to recommend the best cosmetic ear surgery approach for you or your child’s needs.
Children who are good candidates for ear surgery include those who are:
- Healthy, without a life-threatening illness or untreated chronic ear infections
- Typically five years of age or older, when a child’s ear cartilage is stable enough for correction
- Cooperative and follow instructions well
- Able to communicate their feelings
Teenagers and adults who are good candidates for ear surgery include:
- Healthy individuals who do not have a life-threatening illness or medical conditions that can impair healing
- Individuals with a positive outlook and specific goals in mind for ear surgery
How do I prepare for cosmetic ear surgery (otoplasty)?
Preparing for your cosmetic ear surgery procedure at a Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center may include:
- Lab testing or a medical evaluation
- Taking certain medications or adjusting your current medications
- Stopping smoking well in advance of surgery
- Avoiding aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements due to increased risk of bleeding
How is cosmetic ear surgery (otoplasty) performed?
Cosmetic ear surgery is performed through an incision in the back of the ear that allows the plastic surgeon to remove cartilage until the ear can be bent back toward the head. Permanent stitches may be used to help keep the ear in place.
Another technique involves simply folding the cartilage onto itself to bring the ear closer to the head.
Cosmetic ear surgery is usually an outpatient procedure at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center. General anesthesia is recommended for young children. For older children or adults, a local anesthesia with sedation may be used.
What are the different types of cosmetic ear surgery (otoplasty)?
Correction of protruding ears uses surgical techniques to create or increase the antihelical fold (just inside the rim of the ear) and to reduce enlarged conchal cartilage (the largest and deepest concavity of the external ear).
Your surgeon will use external stitches to close the incision. Each cosmetic ear surgery is individualized at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center, with our experts taking care to offer the most natural-looking results.
What results can I expect?
Cosmetic ear surgery can dramatically change your appearance. The results from ear surgery are immediate and usually long lasting. Follow-up with your surgeon is important to maintaining your results.
What is involved in recovery?
Cosmetic ear surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center. A dressing is placed over the ear for a week to help reduce the normal swelling that occurs in the ear for a few days following surgery, with pain being minimal and easily relieved with medication.
Most adults return to work about five days following ear surgery. Children can return to school after about a week, but they must limit their activities until they are fully healed from surgery.
Is cosmetic ear surgery (otoplasty) safe?
All surgical procedures carry some risk. Possible complications from cosmetic ear surgery include:
- Scarring (minimal and generally not visible)
- Numbness (temporary)
- Asymmetry or mismatched ears (rare)
Why Choose Us
If you’re considering cosmetic ear surgery, look for a board-certified plastic or facial plastic surgeon with specialized training and significant experience performing otoplasty procedures. Consider going to a cosmetic surgeon who is affiliated with a major medical center, such as at Cleveland Clinic. Ask your cosmetic surgeon about credentials, training and how many cosmetic ear surgeries he or she has performed.
Is this procedure covered by health insurance?
Cosmetic ear surgery is not usually covered by health insurance unless it is being completed for reconstructive purposes. Ask to talk with a financial representative from Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center who can explain costs of the procedure and if insurance coverage is an option for you.
This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.