Prominent ears, also called protruding ears, are ears which stick out from the side of your head. This common feature is present early in life and is readily corrected with surgery. The surgery can be performed any time after your ear reaches normal size, which is age 5 or any time later.

This surgery can be performed under local anesthesia in an adolescent or adult but may be best under general anesthesia in a child. The basic part of the procedure sets or folds your ear back toward the side of your head through an incision behind the ear.

For best results, choose a surgeon with significant experience in cosmetic surgery. Ask your surgeon about their credentials, training and how many similar procedures they’ve performed. 

  • Learn more about Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center.
  • Before & After Photos

    Before & After Photos

    How to Prepare

    How to Prepare

    Am I a 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 your or your child’s needs.

    Children who are good candidates for cosmetic ear surgery include those who are:

    • Healthy, without life-threatening illnesses or untreated chronic ear infections.
    • Typically 5 years of age or older and when their ears have grown to 90% of adult size. Prominent ear correction can be performed in adulthood.
    • Cooperative and follow instructions well.
    • Able to communicate their feelings.

    Teenagers and adults who are good candidates for cosmetic ear surgery include:

    • Healthy people who don’t have life-threatening illnesses or medical conditions that can impair healing.
    • People who don’t smoke.
    • People with a positive outlook and specific goals in mind for ear surgery.
    What to Expect

    What to Expect

    How do I prepare for cosmetic ear surgery (otoplasty)?

    Preparing for your cosmetic ear surgery procedure at a Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center will include:

    • A detailed medical history and medical evaluation. 
    • Instructions on what medications you may need to stop before surgery.
    • A discussion of risks, complications and expected outcome.
    • Stopping smoking well in advance of surgery.
    • Avoiding aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements due to an increased risk of bleeding.

    How is cosmetic ear surgery (otoplasty) performed?

    Cosmetic ear surgery is performed through an incision in the back of your ear that allows the plastic surgeon to alter the cartilage until the ear is properly set closer to the side of your head. This may include folding or cutting the cartilage.

    Cosmetic ear surgery is usually an outpatient procedure at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center. General anesthesia is recommended for young children. Older children and adults may receive local anesthesia with sedation.

    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 concave part 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.

    Is cosmetic ear surgery (otoplasty) safe?

    All surgical procedures carry some risk. Possible complications from cosmetic ear surgery include:

    • Pain.
    • Swelling.
    • Bleeding.
    • Infection.
    • Scarring (minimal and generally not visible).
    • Numbness (temporary).
    • Asymmetry or mismatched ears (rare).


    What results can I expect?

    Cosmetic ear surgery can dramatically change your appearance. The results from cosmetic ear surgery are immediate and usually long-lasting. Following up with your surgeon is important for maintaining your results. View our cosmetic ear surgery before-and-after photos to see results from actual patients. 

    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 your ear for a short period after surgery. This helps reduce the normal swelling that occurs in your ear for a few days after surgery. Pain should be minimal and easily relieved with medication.

    Most adults return to work about five days following cosmetic ear surgery. Children can return to school after about a week, but they must limit their activities until they’re fully healed from surgery.

    Insurance & Financing

    Insurance & Financing

    Insurance rarely covers the cost of elective cosmetic surgery and procedures. Please call 216.444.4004 and ask to speak with one of our financial representatives who can explain payment options, including CareCredit financing.