Ear correction surgery (otoplasty or ear reshaping surgery) is a surgery designed to address the issue of prominent ears and/or asymmetrical ears, allowing the ears to lie closer to the head and having a natural and even appearance. Ear prominence is relatively common and is not associated with any functional deficits.
Ear correction surgery is mostly done on children between the ages of four and fourteen because children’s auricular (ear) cartilages are still soft and it is easier to shape the cartilage or auricle into the appropriate form and pin it back, using gentle surgical techniques. Teenagers and adults have firmer cartilage; however, ear surgery can still be effective in teenagers and adults.
The appropriate time for the correction of prominent ears depends on factors such as auricular growth, cartilage consistency, psychological strain, and the patient’s wishes. At the age of six years, the ear has completed most of its growth; therefore, ear correction surgery at this time does usually not affect auricular growth to any significant extent.
At Avery, we welcome the opportunity to have an open conversation with you to understand the changes you are looking for with surgery. Our patients’ stories matter a great deal to us. You can discover some of our wonderful patients’ journeys here.
Wherever you are on your personal journey, we would like to assist you. Dr Avery will listen to your concerns and what you want to achieve with surgery. Dr Avery will assess your health and medical history to ensure any surgical procedure you are considering is a safe and appropriate choice for you.
Ear correction surgery involves creating an incision behind the ear and removing a small amount of excess skin. The underlying cartilage, which gives the ear its structure and shape, is then moulded before closing the skin with sutures, placing the ear closer to the side of the head.
Reshaping the ear involves removing the skin and stitches are used to fold the cartilage back on itself to reshape the ear without removing cartilage. In most cases, ear surgery will leave a faint scar in the back of the ear that will fade with time. Even when there is only one ear that needs to be corrected, surgery is usually performed in both ears for better symmetry and a more natural appearance.
Ear correction surgery can take anywhere between 1–2 hours, depending on the complexity of the procedure and the patient is able to go home a few hours after the operation. Adult patients will need to organise somebody else to drive them home.
There are two main pathways to a consultation with a Specialist Plastic Surgeon. Your GP or another health practitioner can make a referral to Dr Avery. Alternatively, it is possible to refer yourself for a consultation. The decision of having surgery may be made after talking with family or friends or following your own research into plastic surgery and Dr Avery.
The purpose of your initial consultation with Dr Avery is to discuss both your concerns and your goals. It is an opportunity to openly communicate what you want to change, alleviate, improve, restore, enhance, or remove. We will discuss any concerns you may have about your potential surgery and its outcome. We will also collect information that is specific and tailored to you, to add to the knowledge you acquired through your research outside of the consultation process.
When you arrive at Avery, you will check in with our front-desk team and complete a medical history form, if not already completed. We encourage you to bring a supportive family member or friend who can remain with you throughout the consultation if you like, and be a sounding board during your decision-making process following the consultation process.
The consultation with Dr Avery will include an examination of the area of your body that you are concerned with and considering changing. Our aim will be to determine if plastic surgery can achieve what you hope it will, and if so, what specific plastic surgery procedures will address your concerns and meet your expectations in a realistic way.
Plastic surgery procedures generally impact both physical appearance and your psychological response to the new changes in your body. Besides all the advantages to having plastic surgery, it is important to be fully aware of any potential limitations of the operation and how they apply to your unique situation. This includes possible complications and what can be done if these occur.
We will discuss what the surgery involves, how it relates to you specifically given your uniqueness and current state of health, what the possible risks of the surgery are, and then decide if having the surgery is a safe and appropriate choice for you as an individual.
After your consultation, our support team will be there to talk through any further questions you have, including the cost of the surgery.
At Avery, our goal is to ensure you are equipped with the knowledge needed for you to feel empowered throughout the decision-making process, surgery and post-surgery.
Most otoplasties can be performed as day surgical procedures. A soft bandage dressing is applied after the surgery and a quiet week is advised following surgery to help the recovery process and minimize discomfort and potential complications.
There will be some bruising and swelling, which generally subsides about 1 to 2 weeks after the surgery. After one week, the soft bandage is removed after and a stretchy head band is used for some time during the day to support and protect the ears as needed. A loose headband worn at night is also recommended for the first 6 weeks, to avoid the corrected ears from pulling forward while sleeping.
A customised pain relief program will be created for you and issued before you leave the hospital. If circumstances change at any stage during the recovery period, then the pain medication can be adjusted accordingly.
Scars from ear surgery are usually well-hidden behind the ears. They will generally fade to almost invisible, although this can vary depending on how well your skin copes with scarring.
The financial aspects of your surgery are as important as the medical elements when planning for surgery. At Avery, the surgeries we offer fall into three different financial categories: Self-funded – aesthetic surgery; self-funded – plastic and reconstructive surgery; and health insured – plastic and reconstructive surgery.
To make sense of these three financial categories, we have created a detailed price guide to help you understand what may or may not be covered by your health insurer/Medicare and your out of pocket expenses.
For more information or to book a consultation, please contact our team on 02 4002 4150.
Ear Correction Surgery - Otoplasty FAQs
The post-op bandage needs to be kept dry while in use. After the first checkup, if the wound is healing well, the post-op bandage is removed and it will be acceptable to shower and wash your hair. Activities such as swimming can put pressure on the healing ears. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid swimming for 6 weeks. When returning to swimming lessons an adjustable neoprene (wet-suit material) headband can help gently support the ears and avoid the ears being pushed forward with the weight of the water.
As with all surgical procedures, revisional surgery may be necessary. This may be to correct minor irregularities or even some degree of recurrence of the initial concern. Surgery to the ear (or even simply ear piercing) can result in a keloid scar and this may need treatment. A keloid scar may not become obvious for several months following surgery.
Ear correction surgery is mostly done on children between the ages of four and fourteen because children’s auricular cartilages are still soft and it is easier to shape the cartilage or auricle into the appropriate form and pin it back, using gentle surgical techniques. Teenagers and adults have firmer cartilage; however, ear surgery can still be effective in teenagers and adults.
Where there are incisions, there are scars. As the incisions are usually located behind the ears, scars will be well-hidden. Ears can be an at-risk site on the body for keloid scars.
Some throbbing or aching of the ears may occur during the first few days. A customised pain relief program will be created for you or your child to manage pain and discomfort during the recovery period.
Pain following surgery will vary depending on the extent of surgery. Pain immediately after surgery may be reduced by the use of local anaesthetic at the surgical site given during the surgery. The pain will also be managed with tablets or injections as required. Physical measures such as the dressings and for some surgeries supportive garments, as well as limited movement and possibly ice packs will all help minimise any pain. Pain is usually well tolerated within a few days after surgery with all these measures. If your pain is increasing following surgery this is usually a sign that you may need a review to ensure your recovery is proceeding as expected.
Dressings and in some cases surgical garments will offer support to the wounds and the areas of your body that are still recovering. You will be also be advised to restrict excessive movement of the surgical area in the first two weeks after surgery. A good general rule throughout your recovery is if an increase in movement or activity does not increase any discomfort or swelling, then it is probably safe and this gradual progression back to ‘normal’ will be encouraged.
Please allow an hour for your time with Avery. This will include meeting with Dr Avery and the Avery care team.
Dr Avery operates at the accredited Lingard Private Hospital. This is to ensure your operation takes place in an environment governed by the guiding principle of safety to ensure your surgical experience is the best it can be.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner. Dr Avery is a member of the two leading professional associations for plastic surgeons in Australia, ASAPS and ASPS. Their websites provide additional information regarding plastic surgery in Australia that you might find useful, please visit ASAPS and ASPS.