Ear Surgery Overview

Ear deformities can be an unpleasant source of self-consciousness. Such feelings can lead to poor adaptation in school for children and poor self-esteem for adults in social and work environments. Dr. Brent Moelleken believes that if protruding or disfigured ears bother you or your child, you may consider otoplasty surgery.

Ear surgery, or otoplasty, can improve the shape, position, or proportion of your ear. It can correct naturally-formed defects, or it can treat misshapen ears caused by injury or previous surgeries. We believe that ear surgery should create a natural shape, bringing balance to your ears and face. Correction of even minor deformities can have profound benefits to your appearance and self-esteem.

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What Is Otoplasty All About?

Otoplasty is a cosmetic surgery procedure that can reshape, resize, repair, relocate, or even add an ear. The types of procedures and the results they can bring are amazingly versatile. Reasons for seeking this procedure can be either for cosmetic or functional purposes.

Some common reasons to have an otoplasty include:

  • Correct the appearance of protruding or prominent ears
  • Correct major disparities in the size or shape of a patient’s ears
  • Reshape deformed ears
  • Repair or reconstruct the ear after traumatic injuries or surgery
  • Rebuild an external ear in children who are born with a partially or wholly missing ear

Before and After

before after otoplasty procedure patient 1
before after otoplasty procedure patient 2

More Otoplasty Examples

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Correcting Ear Deformities

Most deformities can be adjusted using surgical procedures. Typically, both ears are operated on even if the problem exists in only one ear. The goal is to ensure that both ears match, maintaining a sense of balance to your face.

Several ear deformities often treated are listed below:

  • Protruding Ears
  • Cup Ear (top folded down)
  • Telephone Ear
  • Stahl’s Ear
  • Microtia

Telephone Ear Deformity

When the middle part is closer to the head, the ear has a shape like a telephone. This deformity can be a natural variation of the ear, a result of trauma, or a complication of ear surgery. It can also be from an excessive bulge of either the upper or lower portions.

Stahl’s Ear Deformity (Spock’s Ear, Vulcan Ear, Satyr’s Ear, Pointed Ear)

This is a family of rare ear deformities that has two main characteristics. First, the rim of the ear is flattened. Then, the skin and cartilage are folded to different degrees. Often, this can result in a pointed upper edge. It can appear in many degrees and can even resemble a Vulcan (Star Trek) ear shape. It may be treated within the first few weeks of life with non-surgical molding. After this period, the cartilage is no longer soft. But, surgical options are still available.

Gauge Earlobe Repair

Stretching earlobes has been a ritual for thousands of years. But, people can change their minds. Months and years of stretching can leave your lobes unable to return to their original shape. But, Dr. Moelleken can repair stretched earlobes and even tears using plastic surgery techniques. He is an expert on earlobe reconstruction and gauges earlobe deformities. These procedures are straightforward and have little downtime.

Torn Earlobes

Torn earlobes are common and can happen for many reasons. Stretched earlobe piercings, trauma, and loss of tissue can all be causes. Options for treatment vary depending on how torn or stretched the earlobe is. Repairing the earlobe typically entails sewing the sections together with tiny sutures. The procedure is quick, and you can get back to life immediately.

Shell Ear Or Scaphoid Ear Deformity

This occurs where the curve of the outer rim and the natural folds and creases are missing. The surface of the upper ear appears flat. There won’t be the usual undulations as appears on a normal ear. To repair it, Dr. Moelleken reshapes the cartilage through an incision behind the ear. Several factors determine the outcome. These include the degree of deformity, the state of the cartilage, and the skin condition of the ear.


This surgery is for an ear that is partially or entirely missing. Microtia appears at birth and occurs in different degrees. Treatment requires reshaping the area. Either the patient’s own cartilage or an implant is used for this. Each can have its advantages depending on the situation. Treatment can start early. We usually recommend beginning around age three. However, adults can also treat it later in life.

Otoplasty Procedure

The length of time needed for the procedure depends on the target area. But it typically lasts approximately two hours. More thorough procedures may take longer. In all cases, your ear is easily anesthetized. You need not worry about discomfort during the surgery.

There are four basic steps to an otoplasty procedure:

Step 1 – Anesthesia

Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. The choices include local, intravenous sedation, or general anesthesia. Dr. Moelleken will recommend the best option for you.

Step 2 – The Incision

Incisions are generally made on the back surface of the ear. When incisions are necessary on the front of the ear, they are made within its folds to hide them. Internal, non-removable sutures are used to create and secure the newly shaped cartilage in place.

Step 3 – Reshaping

This part of the procedure varies the most. For some, it might consist of minor remodeling of the cartilage. For others, it might be adding or removing large amounts of the ear.

Step 4 – Closing The Incisions

External stitches close the incision. This is different for each patient. But, we always take care not to distort other structures and to avoid an unnatural “pinned back” appearance.

Step 5 – Enjoying Your Results

Rest up. Heal up. And then enjoy the benefits of your new ears!

Otoplasty Recovery and Downtime

After the procedure, Dr. Moelleken thoroughly cleans the ear area. Afterward, he applies an ointment to your ears and puts a protective dressing into place. This dressing protects your wounds, keeps your ears securely in place, and reduces swelling. It can be removed after a few days and replaced with a lighter dressing similar to a headband.

Most ear surgeries are rather straightforward, and you will be able to go home the same day. There is no real downtime after an otoplasty, and you can return to work almost immediately if need be. But, plenty of patients prefer to take a couple of days off. The important thing is to take care of your ears to ensure proper healing.

Most patients experience some mild discomfort that is alleviated with prescription medication. When Dr. Moelleken recommends it, you can return to your regular routine. But, any major activity that could result in “ear contact” should be avoided for a few months.

Am I a Candidate for Otoplasty?

Ear surgery is one of the few procedures that are available to almost all ages. Adults and children alike can experience extreme self-consciousness from ear abnormalities. It can be performed at any age after the ears have reached their full size, which is around five to six years of age. Infants might be able to undergo special procedures for remolding the cartilage of the ear.

Younger Candidates

Having ear surgery at a young age is highly desirable in two respects. First, the cartilage is extremely flexible. This permits greater ease of shaping.

Secondly, the child will experience psychological benefits from the improvement. It is usually best to have the surgery before starting school. There is no medical benefit to waiting longer. Waiting might only expose your child to unfair teasing.

Children who are good candidates for ear surgery include those who are:

  • Healthy, without illness or untreated chronic ear infections
  • Typically five years of age or older, when a child’s ear cartilage is stable enough for correction
  • Cooperative and follows instructions well
  • Able to communicate their feelings

General Candidates

Adult patients do not take on any additional risks by having ear surgery at an older age. However, they should understand that firmer cartilage of fully developed ears does not provide the same molding capacity as in children.

The ideal candidate for an ear procedure is one who is looking to improve ear shape or size problems including:

  • Large ears
  • Protruding ears
  • Lop ears
  • Cupped Ear
  • Shell ear
  • Large or stretched earlobes
  • Earlobes with large creases and wrinkles
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    Teenagers and adults who are good candidates for ear surgery include:

    • Healthy individuals who do not have an illness or medical condition that can impair healing
    • Non-smokers
    • Individuals with a positive outlook and specific goals in mind for ear surgery

    During your consultation, plan on discussing your reasons for wanting ear surgery. Doing so helps Dr. Moelleken determine if you are a qualified candidate for the procedure. You must be in general good health, and your expectations must be realistic.

    Schedule A Consultation Today

    Trust develops in the consulting stages before your surgery. During this time, Dr. Moelleken, Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery, will compassionately listen to all of your concerns. He does not want you to be shy about discussing any of your feelings.

    In the consultation, several important steps are taken. He will ask you your reasons for wanting ear surgery, evaluate your current ear condition, and explain what can be accomplished. He will perform a thorough examination of your ears, assessing which parts might be contributing to your concern. After this, he uses digital photography and computer imaging software to simulate how you will look after surgery.

    Schedule a consultation today to take the first step in restoring your ears to a beautiful state. Dr. Moelleken and his team are ready to help you with any questions you might have along the way. They will work with you as an individual, developing a plan that fits your unique needs and goals.

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