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Ear surgery, also known as otoplasty, can improve the shape, position or proportion of the ear structure that is present at birth or it can treat misshapen ears caused by injury.

What is an otoplasty?

Otoplasty or ear pinning is a surgical procedure that can correct the appearance of the ears. This procedure allows the surgeon to modify ear shape, size and projection, working on congenital defects (like protruding ears) or trauma-induced flaws (car accidents, dog bites) or flaws from tumour removal.

Generally, otoplasty improves ear protrusion without affecting the pinna, which can only be reduced through incisions that will leave small visible scars.


What types of otoplasty are available?

Otoplasty is able to modify the line, shape and proportions of the ear to achieve greater harmony with the facial lines. According to the anomaly of the ear, what types of otoplasty can we find?

Oversized ears: The reduction of the size is obtained by means of the resection of the skin and cartilage, frequently with a wedge shape.

Ears with a lack of symmetry: The aim is to make the least possible modifications, preserving most of the original elements, so that in sight there is a natural and symmetrical ear with respect to the couple.

Outstanding or detached ears: The surgeon makes an incision behind the ear to expose and reshape the cartilage or simply use permanent sutures, without incisions, which are placed behind the ear and under the skin to help maintain the new shape of the ear instead.

Protruding, elongated or torn lobe (Lobuloplastia): improves or restores the appearance and harmonic shape of the ear lobes. The excess of meat and skin is removed giving shape to the lobe.

Partial or total absence of ear or Microtia or Anotia: Reconstruction of the auricular pavilion using grafts from other areas of the body. Depending on the technique used and the type of diagnosis, it will be performed in one or several surgical times and requires a great surgical and artisan work by the surgeon.

Excess shell or hypertrophy: The rotation of the shell is achieved by taking off below it and making it rotate.

Lack of antihelix: It is corrected by weakening the cartilage, and the attachment of this to each other thanks to suture threads to obtain the curvature of the antihelix.

Does otoplasty require anesthesia for the patient?

The type of anesthesia used typically depends on the age of the patient. General anesthesia is recommended for very young patients, while local anesthesia and a sedative may be used for older children and adults.


What are the most common risks and possible complications of otoplasty?

Cosmetic ear surgery like any other plastic surgery procedure, involves risks; however, with otoplasty, complications are usually minimal. The risks or complications associated with ear surgery, both reconstructive and aesthetic, include:


One of the most common complications of otoplasty is the infection of the skin and cartilage, which also represents the greatest threat to the success of the intervention. An infection that develops after a cosmetic surgery of the ears, in general, is relieved with antibiotics. This is a very rare complication.

Blood clots

The formation of a blood clot is another possible risk of cosmetic ear surgery. Blood clots are a rare complication and can be removed with a needle or simply dissolved alone.

If the patient suffers prolonged inflammation and bleeding, you should immediately contact the surgeon to make sure that the ear is healing as it should.

If the person who performs aesthetic or reconstructive surgery of the ears is a surgeon not experienced or not well trained, the potential risk of overcorrection of the ear is high. Complications of overcorrection in otoplasty include:

  • Location of the ears too close to the head
  • Contour distortions
  • Improper correction
  • Asymmetric correction

The risk of overcorrection can be largely avoided if you choose a doctor with a lot of experience and proven results.

Loosening of sutures

The loosening of sutures is a risk that children who have undergone otoplasty often face. Often the result of boisterous activity or lack of attention to bandages, loosening or dropping the stitches can cause the ear to return to its initial shape or position. To avoid this risk, it is important to carefully follow the surgeon’s postoperative instructions.

Hearing loss

Many ear surgery patients wonder if otoplasty is related to the risk of losing hearing. Complications of this type are very rare and almost never occur. The distortion of the auditory canal due to important modifications in the shell can produce alterations in the hearing. However, a highly trained cosmetic surgeon in ear surgery will be able to evaluate the possibility of such risk and take the necessary measures to avoid any damage to the hearing.


How long does it take to heal after ear correction surgery?

In general, the otoplasty recovery time is approximately one week for the patient to be able to lead a normal life and for another three weeks to remove the tape from the patient. The final result is valued after three months.

Generally, otoplasty patients can expect these healing milestones as they recover:

  • First 24 hours: This is a critical recovery time when you’ll need to get plenty of rest and stay well hydrated. During this time, you’ll wear a mild compression dressing around the ears. Your ears will be swollen and sore.
  • 24 to 72 hours: While your swelling may begin to decrease slowly, you should see a large improvement by the end of your third day of healing. You will wear your compression bandage throughout this period as well.
  • Three days to one week: Many patients start to feel more comfortable at this time with some cleared to return to work. If you have a very physical job, you’ll need to stay out of work for longer. Your ears will be much less swollen and may be easy to hide when you style your hair.
  • One to two weeks: By now, your ears won’t be noticeably swollen to other people and you will feel comfortable resuming much of your daily (and social) activities.
  • By three months: While you’ll feel healed sooner than the three-month mark, you’ll need to wait up to three months for your swelling to be completely gone.

We have exposed the cases for which it is usual to practice an otoplasty, the types that exist and the recovery time after an ear operation. We have also explained what the risks and possible complications are. However, if you still have doubts or want to know more about the subject do not hesitate to get in touch with Cirugía Plástica Málaga. We will be happy to assist you and advise you. Do not hesitate any longer and get in touch with us!



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