Cosmetic Ear Surgery Types

Ears may need improvement for a variety of reasons: one or both may stick out too far from the head, they may be misshapen, they were injured or lost to an accident or disease, or they were missing or poorly formed at birth. Otoplasty can be the answer in all these cases.

Otoplasty also plays both a cosmetic and functional role. In addition to improving the appearance of the outer ear, it can assist in the hearing process because the shape of the outer ear is important for conducting sound into the ear canal and inner ear. Because of this, health insurance will sometimes pick up the costs of reconstructive otoplasty.

The most common type of cosmetic ear surgery is called ear pinning surgery, which corrects ears that stick out too far. It is a relatively simple but delicate procedure that can be performed once the ears are fully formed. The surgeon makes a vertical incision in the skin behind the external ear to expose the cartilage. He or she then sculpts or folds the cartilage so that the ear lies closer to the head, or removes both cartilage and skin for the same effect. The scar is virtually hidden in the natural creases behind the ear.

The whole procedure takes 2 to 3 hours to complete. In adults, other plastic surgery procedures like a face lift or an eye lift can be done at the same time as otoplasty. In children, ear surgery is usually performed by itself. This is one of the few cosmetic surgeries that is often performed on young children because the ears are finished with much of their growth by age 4 or 5. 

Other common cosmetic ear surgery techniques include:

  • Reducing the size of large ears
  • Building up ears that are smaller than normal (cupped ears)
  • Correcting lop ears that tip forward and down at the top


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