Ear Otoplasty Surgery – What Actually Happens

Otoplasty surgery is normally performed on young patients who fall under the age group of five to 14 years.

The Basics on Otoplasty Surgery

The ear is fully matured by the time an individual is four years old and early ear surgery on deformed, misshapen, or prominent ears can save a child the trauma of social ridicule and teasing. Otoplasty surgery can be easily done at a younger age as the ear will be extremely malleable.

Several adults opt for ear surgery otoplasty too as it is perfectly safe and produces satisfactory results in adults. However, the pain level post otoplasty surgery may be higher as the nerves to the ear are more developed in adults.

Ear Otoplasty Surgery Procedure

You may have to wear a bulky dressing till your ear recovers post Otoplasty surgery

Prior to ear reconstruction surgery or ear pinning, the surgeon will have a discussion with you regarding the goals of the surgery. This pre-operative session is normally done to temper patient expectations about the cosmetic impact of the surgery. The surgeon will warn you that the procedure is unlikely to result in a perfectly symmetrical pair of ears – this is rarely seen even in normal patients.

Otoplasty surgery is done on an out-patient basis and adults undergoing ear surgery otoplasty are given local anesthesia. However, young patients are given general anesthesia.

Otoplasty Surgery and the External Ear Structure

Ear reconstruction surgery or ear pinning is focused on the external part of the ear – the part of the ear that we can see. The important parts involved in Otoplasty surgery include:

  • Auricle or Pinna: The concave, ovoid form of the ear.
  • Helix: The rim of the auricle.
  • Anti-helix: The curved prominent part which is parallel to the helix.
  • Scapha: The narrow and curved depression which lies between the helix and anti-helix.
  • Concha: The deep cavity which is rimmed by the anti-helix.
  • Lobule: The ear lobe which is made up of areolar and adipose tissues.

Pre Operative Steps Before Otoplasty Surgery

  • Get a complete medical check-up so that the surgeon can have a good idea of your general health status.
  • Consult the doctor if you are on any medication and whether these should be stopped for a while.
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol for two weeks before the surgery as it increases the risk of surgical complications.
  • If the procedure is being carried out under general anesthesia, a consultation with the anesthetist can be held.
  • Follow all orders given by your doctor without fail.

The Steps Involved in Otoplasty Surgery

The surgery normally takes one to two hours.

Ear Reconstruction Surgery:

In case of trauma to the ear or any congenital defect that involves reconstructing an ear, cartilage grafting might be necessary. In such cases, cartilage is taken from the patient’s rib cage. This is then sculpted to form the auricle or the pinna. In case the ear lobe is also damaged or missing, the surgeon will conduct a follow up surgery within a couple of months to create an earlobe.

Antia-Buch Helical Advancement Technique:

This is used for patients with several congenital ear deformities or for those who have insufficient cartilage for grafting. In this technique, tissue is moved from behind the ear rim in order to repair the defective front.

Antihelical Fold Manipulation:

Sutures between the scapha and concha are tied with enough tension to ensure that the anti-helical fold is well defined. The procedure sets back the helical rim and the scapha.

Abrasion Technique:

The cartilage is made to undergo abrasion. This causes the cartilage to bend and it can then be reshaped.


An incision is made at the back of the ear, along the natural folds. The exposed cartilage is then reshaped or excised as required. Stitches are used to retain the new shape of the ear. In case of defects in the conchal area, the cartilage is removed from the posterior wall of the concha.

Earlobe Correction:

Earlobe correction is often described as the most difficult part of otoplasty surgery. One way of correcting earlobe defects is by suturing the helical cartilage to the concha. Yet another procedure that is used to excise the skin and put sutures between the ear lobe tissues and neck tissues. In the Gosian surgical technique, the skin surface on the earlobe is cut open and the conchal area is taken in to pull the ear lobe towards the head.

Ear Pinning:

An incision is made on the back of the external ear. The cartilage is loosened and excess skin and cartilage are removed. The concha is re-positioned to lie close to the head and sutures are used to reshape the anti-helix fold. The ear is then pinned back and sutures are used to make it lie flat against the head.

The Post Operative Steps Following Otoplasty Surgery

  • Post-surgery, you will have to sport a voluminous head dressing for a few days. This is done to retain the new shape as well as to encourage quick healing.
  • You will have to spend some time in the recovery room. Once the hospital staff is sure that all your vital signs are normal and there are no complications, you will be allowed to return home.
  • Once the bandages are removed, you will have to use an elasticized head band for a few weeks to keep your ears in position.

You must take care to learn about otoplasty risks before undergoing the surgery. The effects of the surgery are permanent and reversal is only rarely reported. Of course, complications during ear surgery recovery can be avoided only by taking proper precautionary measures both before and after otoplasty.

Leave a Reply