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Otoplasty is sometimes referred to as cosmetic ear surgery. It’s performed on the visible portion of the outer ear, called the auricle.

The auricle comprises folds of cartilage that are covered in skin. It starts to develop before birth and continues developing in the years after you’re born.

If your auricle doesn’t develop properly, you may choose to have otoplasty to correct the size, positioning, or shape of your ears.

There are several different types of otoplasty:

  • Ear augmentation. Some people may have small ears or ears that haven’t completely developed. In these cases, they may want to have otoplasty to increase the size of their outer ear.
  • Ear pinning. This type of otoplasty involves drawing the ears closer to the head. It’s performed on individuals whose ears stick out prominently from the sides of their head.
  • Ear reduction. Macrotia is when your ears are larger than normal. People with macrotia may choose to have otoplasty to reduce the size of their ears.

Who should consider Otoplasty?

Otoplasty is typically used for ears that:

  • protrude from the head
  • are larger or smaller than normal
  • have an abnormal shape due to injury, trauma, or a structural issue from birth

Additionally, some people may have already had otoplasty and aren’t happy with the results. Because of this, they may choose to have another procedure.

Good candidates for otoplasty include those who are:

  • Ages 5 or older. This is the point when the auricle has reached 90 percentTrusted Source of its adult size.
  • In good overall health. Having an underlying condition can increase the risk of complications or affect healing.
  • Nonsmokers. Smoking can decrease blood flow to the area, slowing the healing process.

Recovery from Otoplasty procedure

Following your procedure, you’ll have a dressing placed over your ears. Be sure to keep your dressing clean and dry. Additionally, try to do the following while your recover:

  • Avoid touching or scratching at your ears.
  • Choose a sleeping position where you aren’t resting on your ears.
  • Wear clothing you don’t have to pull over your head, such as button-up shirts.

In some cases, you may also need to have stitches removed. The doctor will let you know if this is necessary. Some types of stitches dissolve on their own.

Common side effects during the recovery period include:

  • ears that feel sore, tender, or itchy
  • redness
  • swelling
  • bruising
  • numbness or tingling

Your dressing will stay in place for about a week. After it’s removed, you’ll need to wear an elastic headband for another 4 to 6 weeksTrusted Source. You can wear this headband at night. Your doctor will let you know when you can return to various activities.

Risks of Otoplasty procedure

Like other surgical procedures, otoplasty has some associated risks. These can include:

  • a bad reaction to the anesthesia
  • bleeding
  • infection
  • ears that aren’t symmetrical or have unnatural-looking contours
  • scarring at or around the incision sites
  • changes in skin sensation, which are typically temporary
  • suture extrusion, where the stitches securing the shape of your ears come to the surface of the skin and have to be removed and reapplied.