Ear Reconstructive Surgery | Procedures | MedStar Health

Plastic Surgery Ear Procedures

Close-up of a doctor examining a patient's ear

Ear reconstructive surgery procedures

Reshape or reconstruct your ears. Your ears are advanced organs that allow you to hear the world around you and are a prominent feature of your face. So, if your ears have a birth defect or an injury that affects their shape, it can impair your ability to hear and negatively impact your image. But you don’t have to live with the difficulties that accompany misshapen ears. MedStar Health can help reshape and reconstruct your ears.

Reconstructive Ear Procedures Overview

Examples of ear conditions we treat include:

  • Prominent ear, also known as protruding ear, is when one or both ears stick out more than 2 centimeters from the sides of the head

  • Constricted ear includes lop ear and cupped ear and is when the rim of the ear appears to be tightened, folded down, or very small

  • Shell ear is when the curve in the outer rim, as well as the natural folds and creases of the ear, are missing

  • Large, stretched or torn earlobes can happen as a result of ear tearing, trauma, or piercing

  • Lobes with large creases or wrinkles are typically the result of a genetically passed trait

  • Microtia is a birth defect in which the ear is underdeveloped, leaving a small, malformed, or absent external ear

  • Traumatic injuries that may leave the ear absent or deformed

  • Deformities caused by skin cancer removal

While many of these conditions are commonly treated when patients are still children, we frequently perform reconstructive ear procedures on adults as well.

Planning for ear surgery

What to expect

At MedStar Health, our ear specialists offer the most advanced treatment options for people who suffer from birth defects and injury-related ear problems. We offer an array of treatment options including:

  • Earlobe repair: If the earlobe is torn, ripped, stretched-out, or drooping, this simple in-office procedure can trim the affected skin

  • Ear-shaping surgery (otoplasty): Otoplasty is a common procedure that repositions the ears for a more normal appearance. Ears can be repositioned by making an incision behind the ear, and then removing or folding the ear cartilage

  • Microtia surgery: If you’re affected by microtia, a new ear can be reconstructed using your rib cartilage or an implant placed under the skin

The surgeon will examine your ears and ask questions to determine if you’re a candidate for an ear procedure. If surgery is recommended, you’ll discuss risks and potential complications of surgery and what will happen during surgery. You’ll receive directions on what to do prior to your surgery.

Recovery from ear surgery

Patients are usually up and around within a few hours of surgery and are able to go home the same day. Your head will be wrapped in a bulky bandage immediately following surgery to promote the best molding and healing. The ears may throb or ache a little for a few days, but medication can help relieve pain. Within one week, the bulky bandages will be replaced by a lighter head dressing similar to a headband. Be sure to follow your surgeon’s directions for wearing this dressing, especially at night. Sutures usually will dissolve in about two weeks.

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.

Frequently asked questions

  • Is ear surgery covered by insurance?

    Your ear procedure may be covered by insurance if it is deemed medically necessary. Please contact your insurance company to determine your coverage.

  • Do I need a referral to your office?

    If you’re exploring options for insurance coverage, you may need to request a referral from your primary care doctor, depending on your health insurance plan. Check with your carrier to see if medical coverage is an option for you and, if so, whether a referral is required.

  • What are the risks of ear surgery?

    Ear surgery, as with all surgeries, carries certain risks including:

    • Anesthesia complications
    • Bleeding
    • Blood clotting behind the ear
    • Infection
    • Recurrence of the original malposition
  • How should I prepare for surgery?

    Before surgery, you may be asked to get lab testing and take or adjust medications. If you smoke, quitting will help you heal faster and avoid possible complications.

    You should arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery, and to help you out for a day or two.

    For more information, visit Patient Resources or Preparing for Surgery.

Our locations

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MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Rd. NW
Washington, DC, 20007

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

MedStar Health: Orthopedics at McLean

6858 Old Dominion Dr.
Ste. 200
McLean, VA 22101