Otoplasty: Enhancing the shape of the ears

Otoplasty corrects protruding ears and other malformations that may be associated with them. It aims to obtain a definitive, symmetrical and natural reattachment of the ears.

The otoplasty operation

Otoplasty is one of the few cosmetic procedures that can be performed in children as young as seven years old, but it is still very common in adults. It is most often performed on both ears at the same time but it can also be performed on only one ear.

Ear surgery corrects :

  • A defect in the plicature of the auricle which leads to a lack of relief because the ear is not folded enough on itself.
  • A too important size of the concha which accentuates the distance of the ear from the head.
  • A defect of angle between the ear and the skull which causes an impression of detachment.
Otoplastie | Otoplasty

Otoplasty: the process of the operation

Otoplasty is performed under local or general anesthesia on an outpatient basis and lasts a maximum of 1h30. It can be performed on both ears or sometimes on only one ear, in case of asymmetry.

Many techniques exist, the important thing being to obtain a natural final appearance, free of a certain number of deformations or creases that we still see from time to time. It is also necessary to practice the technique that will avoid recurrences, reconstitution of the initial deformation or emergence of another one.


The choice of anaesthesia is the result of a discussion between the patient, the surgeon and the anaesthetist.

  • Pure local anaesthesia: An anaesthetic is injected locally to ensure insensitivity of the ears.
  • Intravenous sedation anaesthesia: Relaxing products help the patient to relax during ear surgery. It is supplemented by local anaesthesia.
  • General anaesthesia: The patient sleeps completely during the operation.

The operation

The surgeon makes an incision in the natural fold behind the ear.

The skin is then peeled off to access the cartilage. The cartilage is then reshaped, either by weakening it with a small curved rasp that follows the shape of the ears (Stenström technique), or by placing non-absorbable stitches (Mustard and Furnas technique), or a combination of these two techniques.

Depending on the indication to be treated, the surgeon will :

  • Reshape the cartilage in order to redraw the normal relief or remove part of the over-developed cartilage.
  • Proceed to the plicature of the upper part of the ear (the antelix) and the burying of the hollow part of the ear (the concha).
  • Remove the excess skin band to avoid the creation of a bulge. The incision is then sutured with an absorbable suture overjet.

At the end of the operation, the surgeon applies a bandage.

After the operation

They are generally not very painful. The first bandage is removed after one to two days. The ears are then held and camouflaged by a headband kept on day and night for one to two weeks. They are swollen with bruises for two to three weeks.

It is usual that the ears are still insensitive for a few weeks, which means that they must be protected from cold and heat. It is recommended to avoid sports for one to two months.

Otoplasty: the results

Otoplasty recreates the natural folds of the ear, repositions the pinna against the skull and corrects the shape of the lobes.

The result is apparent the day after the operation but is definitive after three to six months. A touch-up is sometimes necessary in case of small imperfections such as :

  • Slight asymmetries can be seen or remain in the positioning of the pavilion, in the folds of the cartilage and in the reliefs.
  • Stitches may be noticeable and scars, pinkish at first, may not evolve as expected.

However, these small defects are discrete and not eye-catching.

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