Otoplasty is cosmetic surgery to change the appearance of the external ear, commonly performed for prominent or protruding ears. Patients of any age can be candidates, and otoplasty typically involves minimal downtime.
Treatment for prominent ears varies depending on when interventional steps are taken. When identified very early (at or around time of birth), ear cartilage can sometimes be molded to improve appearance. However, surgical intervention is often required for adults since cartilage has obtained its final shape.
Two common conditions are associated with prominent ears, and they can appear together or separately:
- The first is a prominent conchal bowl, which is the curved area just outside the ear canal. The cartilage fails to fully bend and conform and causes the middle portion of the ear to protrude from the head. This is corrected by trimming the excess cartilage and allowing the ear to fold back towards the head.
- The second is a lack of proper cartilage folding in the upper portion of the ear (lack of antihelical fold) that causes the upper third of the ear to protrude from the head. This is corrected by recreating the absent fold surgically.
Otoplasty is most often performed through an incision behind the ear. Once corrected, the patient wears a headband for 1-2 weeks to ensure that his or her ears are protected and held in the proper position while healing.