Having ears that “stick out” or protrude too far from the head can be a source of self-consciousness and embarrassment for adults and children alike. Pinning back the ears can greatly improve how a person feels when looking in the mirror and engaging in social activities.
Ear surgery, also known as otoplasty, is designed to correct the appearance of the ears. Most often, it is performed to pin back the ears closer to the head, but it also can be performed to reduce the size of large ears, correct the appearance of asymmetrical ears, or address other abnormalities.
Otoplasty is one of the most commonly performed plastic surgery procedures for children, but adults can benefit as well. During the procedure, the surgeon removes and modifies excess skin, tissue, and cartilage on the ear and repositions the ears to be closer to the head.
Request a complimentary consultation to learn more about otoplasty and find the best procedures and treatments to help you achieve the look you want. We offer convenient appointment times at 3 locations in Southern California to accommodate your needs.
Facial Aesthetic Concepts is the only skin care and body therapeutics in Southern California to go to. I have been to many and by far they are the best. I have been a patient of Dr. Gangnes since 1986. He is one of the finest plastic surgeons I have ever met and used to make me look the way I do today.
Choose a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon
Not all doctors performing cosmetic surgery are board-certified. Choosing a board-certified facial plastic surgeon is crucial when having a facial cosmetic surgery procedure such as cosmetic ear surgery.
Dr. Richard Gangnes is a double board-certified facial cosmetic surgeon with over 30 years of experience. In addition to his education from the Washington University School of Medicine, he is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and is certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery as well as the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Dr. Shain Cuber is a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience in facial plastic surgery, having performed over 500 facial rejuvenation procedures. He spent more than 12 years of his career working with a practice specializing in facial plastic surgery.
What Is Otoplasty?
Otoplasty is the medical term for the surgical correction of protruding ears. The condition is genetic in origin and its occurrence appears to be equally divided between males and females. The procedure involves making a few incisions to “pull back” the ears and wrapping the ears briefly to settle them in a new position.
Ear Surgery Techniques and Additional Options
This procedure involves incisions placed behind the ears, ensuring that all incisions are unrecognizable after healing is completed. Depending on the cause of the protruding ears, sutures are used and placed in precise locations to reshape and correct the appearance of the ear. After the procedure, the ears are wrapped with a headband, which is typically removed a short time after surgery. The dramatic change and quick recovery have placed otoplasty procedures among the highest in patient satisfaction of all cosmetic procedures.
Otoplasty can be combined with other plastic surgery procedures and non-surgical treatments. These additional options usually aren’t for younger patients, but adults who have otoplasty may choose to use this opportunity to change other things they don’t like about their appearance. For instance, you may choose to have nose surgery or an injectable treatment like BOTOX® Cosmetic or injectable fillers for a more comprehensive refresh.
Best Candidates for Otoplasty
Most otoplasty procedures are performed on patients between ages 4 to 14, and the second largest group consists of patients in their twenties and thirties. The early age of correction is not surprising since 85% of the ear is developed by age 3. In addition, correcting protruding ears at an early age can greatly reduce the degree of social embarrassment and ridicule placed on young patients with ear deformities.
Protruding or unnatural ears are typically caused by under-development or over-development of specific areas. Sometimes there is a combination of under- and over-development. The procedures to correct protruding ears are well-established and can be performed on an outpatient basis.
What to Expect
If you think you or your child may benefit from otoplasty, your first step is to schedule a consultation visit with your surgeon. The consultation is your opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the procedure. During the consult, your surgeon will review you or your child’s medical history, examine the existing anatomy/structure of the ear, and ask questions to understand how you want the ears to look after surgery. He’ll also advise on possible risks and side effects of an ear surgery procedure.
If your surgeon determines you or your child is a good candidate for otoplasty, you’ll be given additional information, including detailed pricing for the procedure, pre-op instructions, and general office policies. You’ll never be pressured into booking surgery on the day of your consultation. We want you to be able to take the time to consider your options and make the best decision for your specific needs.
If you decide to move forward with surgery, our surgical coordinator will select a surgery date with you and make sure you’ve completed all the necessary paperwork. You’ll be given specifics including where the surgery will take place, how to prepare for surgery, post-op instructions, and much more.
Ear Surgery Recovery
This procedure most often leaves the patient with only mild discomfort. A long-lasting anesthetic is used during the procedure, and you’ll be prescribed pain medication so that recovery is as comfortable as possible.
After surgery, expect some bruising and swelling around the ears. This can be minimized by keeping the head upright, even during sleep if possible. The bandage that is applied following surgery is left on for 1 day for adult patients and up to 10 days for children. It’s important not to get the bandage wet.
After the bandage is removed at our office, it will be replaced with a headband that needs to be worn continuously for several weeks to protect the ears and hold them in place as healing continues.
Most of our ear surgery patients are ready to return to work or school in about a week. You will need to avoid vigorous exercise, contact sports, and any activities that may impact the ears for 3 weeks
The end goal of otoplasty is to achieve a more proportionate and natural look for the ears. Our patients are pleased to find that they no longer feel self-conscious about their ears. You’ll be able to achieve the best results by following your post-op instructions closely and being diligent about wearing your headband for the prescribed amount of time. Keep in mind that a very minor amount of “give back” or re-protrusion can occur a few weeks after the procedure, but this should not be noticeable and is not something to be concerned about.
How to Prepare for Your Ear Surgery
- Provide a list of all medications/health history for you or your child.
- Avoid taking many pain relievers and herbal supplements for 2 weeks before surgery. You will be given a specific list of medications to avoid, including aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, along with other medications, vitamins, and supplements which may increase the risk of bleeding or impact your ability to heal after surgery.
- Fill your prescriptions ahead of time so that you are prepared after surgery.
- Have essentials ready, including pre-prepared meals, a comfortable sleeping arrangement where you can keep your head upright, etc.
- Do not eat or drink anything, including water, the night before the surgery.
- If you are a smoker, you will need to quit at least 4 weeks before surgery and you will be told when you are cleared to start smoking again if you so choose. Keep in mind that smoking and chewing tobacco inhibit your circulation and can negatively affect your surgical outcome.
- If you are having ear surgery yourself, arrange for someone to take you home from the surgery center and stay with you for at least the first 24 hours after surgery.
What to Ask at Your Consultation
The consultation with your surgeon is your opportunity to talk through what otoplasty is all about and whether it’s the right option for you or your child. Here are some questions to help you get started as you make a list of what you want to cover in your time with the doctor.
What are your qualifications?
Dr. Gangnes is certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery as well as the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He has decades of experience in facial plastic surgery procedures and is happy to provide a complete list of qualifications.
Dr. Cuber is a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience in facial plastic surgery, having performed over 500 facial rejuvenation procedures. He spent more than 12 years of his career working with a practice specializing in facial plastic surgery.
Am I a good candidate for otoplasty?
Generally speaking, if you or your child has large, protruding ears, some degree of correction is achievable with cosmetic ear surgery. Your surgeon will evaluate the ear anatomy and provide you with specific details on what kind of results you can expect after the procedure.
How long will it take to heal?
Everyone heals from surgery a bit differently. Healing time depends on the extent of your incisions and how quickly your body heals on its own. Incisions should heal in about a week, but you’ll need to wear a headband and avoid any activities that could impact or damage the ears for several more weeks.
When is it possible to return to work or school?
You or your child will likely feel good enough to get back to regular daily activities after just a few days. Most of our patients take about a week away from their job or school in order to make sure they are sufficiently recovered. You may feel a bit self-conscious about wearing a headband in public, particularly for men/boys, but this is a minor factor to allow you to enjoy a better appearance for many years to come.
Can I see before and after photos of ear surgeries you’ve done?
We have many before and after photos of ear surgery patients so that you can see some of the results your surgeon was able to achieve. We also encourage you to look at our many outstanding patient reviews so you can see how many of our patients are happy with their results.
You will be provided with a detailed set of instructions for after your procedure. If you ever have questions or concerns during your recovery period, we are available to provide answers and schedule any follow-up visits when needed.
Some of the main items to consider include:
- Avoid getting the dressing covering your ears wet while bathing.
- Sleep with your head elevated. Avoid sleeping on the sides of the ears.
- Take all medications until finished as directed by your surgeon. Do not take any other medications in this period unless you are cleared to do so.
- No vigorous exercise for approximately 3 weeks or as recommended by your doctor.
- No swimming or surfing for 3 weeks.
- Avoid bending, lifting, or straining for 1 week.
- The dressing on the ears will be removed the day after surgery for patients 10 years and older. For patients 10 years and younger, the dressing will be kept in place up to 10 days depending on the child to ensure satisfactory remodeling of the ears.
- Sutures will be removed in 7 days.
- Contact us if you are experiencing significant discomfort after the procedure and the pain is getting worse.
Please use the entrance to our surgery center, 100C for all post-operative appointments. Ring the doorbell and our office staff will assist you. This entrance allows us to accommodate your need for privacy and comfort.
How do I know if I’ll benefit from ear surgery?
Most children and adults with large or protruding ears can benefit from otoplasty. The best way to know for sure that you are a candidate is to schedule a consultation. Your surgeon can evaluate your ears and let you know more specifically what kind of results you can expect after surgery.
What are the risks associated with this surgery?
Any surgical procedure has some risk of complications and side effects. That said, ear surgery is a very safe and proven procedure and has been performed for millions of children and adults over the years. Risks may include reaction to the anesthesia used, infection, blood clots, and noticeable scarring. Your surgeon will review all the risks with you prior to your surgery date so that you are well informed.
What type of anesthesia is used?
Your surgeon can perform ear surgery with a combination of local anesthesia and sedation or with general anesthesia. General anesthesia is usually the best option for young children, but most adults are fine to be under local anesthesia only unless they are having additional facial plastic surgery procedures performed.
How long will it take?
Otoplasty is an outpatient procedure, meaning that you will return home the day of surgery to begin recovery. The procedure itself typically takes 1 to 2 hours to perform. You’ll have some prep time before surgery and a recovery period after to monitor your health before you are sent home.
What is recovery like after otoplasty?
You’ll be prescribed medication to help with any pain or discomfort around the incision sites. Plan for 5 to 7 days off work or school. For a brief time after surgery, your head will be wrapped in a bandage to hold the ears in place. This bandage is removed the next day for adult patients but may need to be in place for up to 10 days for children. Bandages are then replaced with a headband that will need to be worn for several weeks.
Will I have scars after my ear surgery?
All incisions leave scars, but the incisions made for otoplasty are focused on the back of the ear, where they are well concealed. Scars should fade and should not be noticeable over time. Patients find that the improvement in the appearance of the ears is worth some very minor scarring.
Call Us Today for a Free Consultation
When deciding to have any plastic surgery procedure, you already know that you want to find the best plastic surgeon in Southern California. At Facial Aesthetic Concepts, we use state-of-the-art technology combined with the latest medical training and techniques to give you the best results possible. Our distinguished surgeons and surgery center have served Orange County for over 30 years. We’ll provide you with a complete skin analysis and develop a specific treatment plan to address your concerns.
Contact us online today or give us a call at (888) 713-7814 to find out more about which face-refreshing options are right for you.