Reconstructive Plastic Surgery

Prominent Ears / Otoplasty

Otoplasty, or as it’s most commonly known, ear pinning surgery, can change the shape, position and the proportions of the ears. Surgeons will balance the proportion of the ears to the face and create a natural shape. It’s most commonly carried out in children, but adults and teenagers are suitable for otoplasty.

This surgery can help correct prominent or misshapen ears caused by an injury or skin cancer. Otoplasty can help to boost your confidence and self-esteem.

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What conditions can otoplasty treat?

Otoplasty can be used to treat a number of conditions including:

  • Prominent ears
  • Misshapen ears due to trauma or cancer.
  • Overly large ears – macrotia.
  • Protruding ears – also known as ‘bat wing’ ears.
  • Adult dissatisfaction with previous ear surgery.

Otoplasty Techniques

Which otoplasty technique the surgeon uses will depend on what type of correction is required, but surgery usually takes approximately two hours. The technique will determine where the incisions and resulting scars are positioned.

Incisions may be made on the back of your ear, or within the inner creases of your ears. During surgery your surgeon may remove excess cartilage or skin, then fold the cartilage into a better position and secure with internal stitches. More stitches will be used to close the incisions.


Recovery and Rehabilitation

Post otoplasty you will have bandages on your ears to provide additional protection and support. It’s common to feel some discomfort and itching after surgery. Your surgeon may recommend pain medication.

After surgery you should avoid sleeping on your side and rubbing or placing any force on the ears. It may help to wear button-down shirts or clothes with loose fitting collars.

Most patients will return to see us at by one week so the bandages can be removed. You may notice that your ears are swollen or red and you may need to continue to wear a loose headband for a few weeks to cover your ears while you are sleeping.

Your surgeon will recommend when, or if your stitches need to be removed, as some stitches dissolve on their own. Your surgeon will also recommend when you can resume normal daily activities such as swimming and bathing.


Your surgical team will provide you with you with post-operative care instructions, such as:

  • how to care for your surgical site(s) following surgery
  • medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection
  • specific concerns to look out for – at the surgical site(s) or in your general health
  • when to follow up with your medical practitioner.

General self-care suggestions may include:

  • wear tight bandages, as instructed, for one or two weeks, both day and night
  • expect you may experience soreness and swelling for a few weeks
  • avoid any trauma to the ears – for example, do not play any contact sports until your surgeon says that it is okay
  • report any bleeding, severe pain or unusual symptoms to the RPS team.
More information

What else you should know

If I undergo otoplasty surgery am I eligible for Medicare or private health fund rebates?

In some cases, yes. You may be eligible if you’re 18 years old or younger and your ear deformity results in your ears being visibly prominent. In this case a Medicare Benefits Schedule item number might apply.

If you meet the above criteria and have private health insurance you may be eligible to receive a rebate on your part of the surgeon’s fees, anaesthetist’s fees and the hospital costs.

If you don’t have private health insurance and you meet this criteria Medicare will most likely give you a rebate on a small part of your surgeon’s fee and anaesthetist fees.

How soon after surgery will I see a difference?

You’ll notice the changes as soon as the bandages are removed.

These changes are permanent, however if you are not satisfied with the result you can consult with your surgeon to talk about the chance of revision surgery.

Potential complications of otoplasty

All surgery carries some degree of risk. Some of the possible complications of otoplasty include:

  • infection – that may require treatment with antibiotics or further surgery in some cases
  • allergic reaction to sutures, dressings or antiseptic solutions
  • the formation of a large blood clot (haematoma) beneath an incision site, which may require drainage
  • chest infection, which may develop after general anaesthesia
  • a sore throat caused by the breathing tube used during general anaesthesia
  • pain, bruising and swelling around the operated site(s)
  • keloids and hypertrophic scars – raised, thickened scars that may form over the healed incisions. These may be itchy, annoying and unsightly but are not a threat to health
  • slow healing, often related to smoking or diabetes
  • short-term nausea following general anaesthesia, and other risks related to anaesthesia
  • asymmetrical ears – further surgery may be necessary to correct symmetry problems or irregularities in the cartilage
  • re-protrusion of one or both ears – may occur and require further surgery
  • nausea and loss of balance related to fluid accumulation within the inner ear
  • temporary or permanent loss of sensation in the skin around the surgical site and the surface of the ear
  • small areas of skin overlying the cartilage of the ear may die, causing an ulcer that may take several weeks to heal.
How will RPS manage my post-operative care?

Your RPS team will give you specific advice regarding your individual post-operative recovery. They will advise:

  • where you will go after your surgery
  • what medication you will be given or prescribed
  • what bandages and dressings you will need and when they’ll be removed
  • if you require stitches, when they’ll be removed
  • when you can get back to normal activity and exercise
  • when to book your follow-up care.
Our Canberra specialists

The team at RPS Canberra are committed to providing you with the best possible outcome.

The extensive specialist skills of our surgical team ensure that you are provided with surgical options designed to maximise form and function.

Our surgeons hold an impressive array of academic credentials, extensive professional experience and a personal commitment to patient satisfaction.