Otoplasty - San Diego

Man with alrge ears

A consultation with your Changes Plastic Surgery & Spa surgeon will evaluate your particular condition and recommend the most effective technique.

All About Otoplasty

Most of us think of plastic surgery as a very modern invention, but in the case of treatment like otoplasty, there is a long traditional history of the procedure. In fact, the first cases of otoplasty that we know of took place in ancient India around 800 BC! There, Ayurvedic physicians developed the first otoplasty techniques, along with other facial reconstructive surgeries, to help patients who had deformed or mutilated facial features.

The surgery changed throughout the ages but continued to be done. The famous Hollywood luminary Clark Gable, well-known for his prominent ears, had otoplasty to “pin back” his ears.

Today’s otoplasty is certainly far different from any ancient practices—and even much different from Mr. Gable’s “pin back” procedure. Patients who want to improve the look of their ears surgically can look forward to staying comfortable throughout the procedure, and getting the expert guidance of a surgeon who can skillfully achieve the precise look they’re aiming for.

What to Expect

Otoplasty is typically performed in an outpatient surgical facility under local anesthesia and sedation. However, for school-age children, general anesthesia is recommended.

The procedure usually takes about two hours, although more complicated procedures may take longer. With one or more common techniques, your surgeon will make a small incision in the back of the ear and a thin strip of skin is removed. The ear cartilage is then sculpted and folded back toward the head to allow the ear to lie flatter against the head and appear normal. The ear cartilage is secured in place with sutures. Occasionally, your surgeon will have to remove a piece of cartilage to provide a more natural-looking fold when the surgery is complete.

What will the goals of your Botox or Dysport treatment be? This will vary based on your problem areas and your aesthetics. In most cases, the glabella area, those frown lines between your eyebrows, are treated with a more robust approach, with complete elimination as the goal. In contrast, the fine frown lines that run horizontally across the forehead demand a more conservative approach in most cases to avoid bad results. Lines around the lips require finesse and some middle ground; your doctor will carefully assess you and treat you, balancing the desire to reduce the appearance of lines with the ongoing need to eat, drink, laugh, and smile.


The patient’s head is wrapped in a bandage immediately following surgery to promote the best molding and healing. After a few days, this is replaced with a lighter dressing similar to a headband.

Any activity in which the ear might be bent should be avoided for a month or so. Most adults can go back to work about five days after surgery. Children can go back to school after seven days or so if they’re careful about playground activity. Parents may want to ask your child’s teacher to keep an eye on the child for a few weeks.

Otoplasty and Children

If you look back to your school days, you probably remember that children that had unusual physical characteristics were often teased mercilessly. These days, despite caring parents who do everything they can to protect their children, teasing often goes much further, resulting in bullying online and in person. For children with big, misshapen, or protruding ears, those school days can be tough, if not frightening and dangerous.

Although most of us think of plastic surgery as something for adults, especially older adults hoping to reclaim a youthful appearance, its roots are in helping patients correct parts of their appearance that are causing them difficulty. Some procedures are actually well-suited for younger patients, and otoplasty, or ear surgery, is one of them.

Children recover very quickly from most medical procedures, including surgeries. They also have full-time caretakers their parents who ensure that their recovery is smooth. Furthermore, younger children quickly forget about any discomfort they experienced during their recovery. Finally, children often get more benefits from otoplasty since the procedure can help them avoid bullying. For all of these reasons, parents sometimes choose otoplasty for their children.