Ear surgery/Earlobe repair

If you or your child has large or prominent ears, ear surgery can be beneficial in making this feature less prominent, and increasing self-esteem. Ear surgery can also fix ear tips that that fold down or forward, small ears, or "shell ear" where the ear's natural folds and creases are missing. Surgery can also fix large, stretched or wrinkled earlobes.

Also called otoplasty, ear surgery is typically done when a child is between the ages of four and 14. This is because ears are almost fully grown by age four and early surgery can protect a child from years of teasing. Ear surgery is also done on adults who did not have the surgery as a child, or on adults who have developed stretched or wrinkled earlobes.

What does ear surgery involve?

Generally, ear surgery takes about two or three hours. It can be done under local anesthesia, but especially if the surgery is for a child, general anesthesia might be recommended. Often, the surgery involves making a small incision to expose the ear cartilage and then removing or sculpting the cartilage to achieve the desired look. In other cases, skin is removed and non-removable stitches work to reshape the ear.

Ear surgery often leaves a small scar on the back of the ear. This will fade over time.

What to expect after ear surgery

A patient is generally able to get out of bed a few hours after surgery. The head will be bandaged after surgery to promote molding and healing of the ears. Stitches will dissolve or be removed after about a week.

It is normal for ears to throb for a few days after surgery, but pain medication can relieve this discomfort. 

You should avoid any activity that could bend the ears for at least a month. In most cases, patients can go back to work or school in a week or less. For children, it is important to be careful to avoid rough play.

Ear surgery side effects and risks

Ear surgery side effects are rare, but could include the development of a blood clot on the ear. In some cases, this dissolves naturally. Rarely, patients can develop an infection in the cartilage, which could cause scar tissue to form. Often, antibiotics can treat this. In rare cases, surgery is needed to drain the infection.