Otoplasty – Cosmetic Ear Shaping Surgery | MedStar Health

Did you know that everyone’s ears have a unique shape? But just because everyone has varying shapes and sizes of ears, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are happy with the appearance of your ears. You may feel like your ears stick out too much, are asymmetrical, or look droopy. To hide your ears, you may grow out your hair or frequently wear hats. But you don’t need to stay unhappy with your ears. Otoplasty, or ear shaping surgery, can help improve the appearance of your ears, giving you confidence and improving your self-image.

Examples of ear conditions we can treat with otoplasty 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.
  • 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.

At MedStar, our facial plastic surgery ear specialists offer advanced surgical options for people who seek cosmetic ear procedures.

Frequently asked questions

  • Is surgery covered by insurance?

    Cosmetic surgical procedures are generally not covered by insurance. 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 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.

Planning and recovery

What to expect

You and your doctor will discuss in detail your concerns, anticipated results, and how the procedure will be performed. Most patients are thrilled with the results of ear surgery. However, keep in mind the goal is improvement, not perfection. Do not expect both ears to match perfectly; perfect symmetry is both unlikely and unnatural in ears.

On the day of the procedure, you will receive general anaesthesia through an IV or a local anaesthetic with a sedative for less complex procedures. Your doctor will reposition the ear(s) by making an incision in the affected ears and removing or folding the ear cartilage as necessary. If your earlobe is torn, ripped, stretched-out, or drooping, a simple outpatient procedure in which the affected skin is trimmed may be all that is necessary.

Recovery from ear shaping 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. Your ears may throb or ache a little for a few days, but medication can 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.

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: Plastic Surgery at McLean

6862 Elm Street
Suite 800
McLean, VA 22101