Otoplasty or pinnaplasty - Cosmetic surgery to the ear

Prominent ears are a distinguishing feature, which can run in families and can enhance a person's character. Occasionally they can be the subject of teasing at school and cause embarrassment. It is possible to alter the shape of the ears and allow them to sit closer to the head. The treatment varies depending on the age of the patient:

New Born Child

It is possible to persuade prominent ears in new born babies to sit back by taping them. After the age of three months the cartilage in the ear becomes firm and the technique is much less successful. It is possible to use a headband, but there is also a commercial product available: Earbuddies.

Early School Age

School can be a hard place for children with unusual features and teasing is the main reason for having the ears corrected at this age. Correction involves an operation under general anaesthetic. It usually takes one-and-a-half hours and it is possible to go home the same day.


One or both ears can be corrected in adulthood. It involves an operation, which can be carried out under local anaesthetic. The patient can go home the same day.

The Operation

Through small incisions behind each ear, the cartilage is carefully positioned. Stitches are not usually necessary as glue closes the skin. It is however necessary to wear a head bandage for one week after the operation to hold the ears in shape until healing fixes them.

After Operation

It is possible to go home the same day. It is most important not to take the head bandage off and to keep the bandage away from water. For this reason it is best to wash your hair before the operation. It is possible to have some earache after the operation for a few days. If the pain becomes more severe then antibiotics are usually required as there is the possibility of infection. Please contact your Suite at the Alexandra Hospital on  0161 428 3656 if you have any questions or concerns.

The head bandage is removed at clinic after seven days and the skin has usually healed by this time. It is important not to play contact sports for six weeks after the operation. It is advisable to wear a tennis headband at night to maintain the ear position until the ears are fully moulded. This takes approximately six weeks.

It is possible for children to go back to school and adults back to work after seven days.

What Can Go Wrong?

The possibility of infection has been mentioned. If infection is not treated it can cause scarring (cauliflower ear).

A blood clot under the ear may also cause increased pain and is treated the same way as infection.

The scar behind the ear is usually not noticeable, but in a few patients can remain red and lumpy (a keloid scar).

The ear shape may not be exactly symmetrical. This is due to the springy nature of the cartilage in the ear, which makes the final position unpredictable. Most patients have a vastly improved result which they are pleased with.