Surgery Explained

Surgery in children

In children otoplasty is carried out under general anaesthesia. Most children do not complain of pain. Generally the operation takes about 90 minutes.

In children the ears are usually quite soft so the ear set back is accomplished by the use of internal stitches. The ear cartilage or gristle usually needs to be folded back on itself. The corrected position is usually held in place with stitches which are invisible on the outside.

The only visible cut is at the back of the ear in the fold or skin crease between the head and ear itself. The scar or incision is usually inconspicuous especially after about 3 to 6 months.

Traditionally a head bandage or dressing is applied and kept in place for about a week but this is not always necessary especially in older children.

If your child goes to school they would usually be off for about a week to 10 days. If there are skin stitches these will be removed after a week.

Although an overnight stay is sometimes necessary mostly an otoplasty is a day case procedure.

Otoplasty in adults

Adults are usually able to have an otoplasty under a local anaesthetic. Surgery will virtually always be done as a day case.

However there are some special considerations. The adult ear is “stiffer” than that of a child. Therefore the ear cartilage may be more difficult to fold back upon itself. If this is the case the ear cartilage may need to be weakened by so-called “scoring” of the cartilage. This means that cuts or incisions are used to make the ear easier to fold backwards. Sometimes a combination of such cuts or scoring incisions and internal stitches are necessary to achieve a good result.

A head dressing is usually not applied in an adult. The skin cut will however also be behind the ear in the skin crease and the resulting surgical scar is usually not noticeable after a few months.

The so-called “downtime” after this procedure is about a week. However it is perfectly possible to go back to work after a few days if this is really necessary.


Otoplasty (PDF 220Kb)