Ear & Earlobe Surgery

Ear & Earlobe Surgery


Introduction to Ear & Earlobe Surgery

An otoplasty is a procedure that “pins back” or reduces protrusion and restores absent folds of the ear. Most of these patients are born with protruding ears and they have always felt self-conscious about them. Candidates for the otoplasty procedure describe never wanting to draw attention to their ears and growing their hair long to conceal them. Generally, we want the ears to attract less attention. Positioning them closer to the head makes them more inconspicuous. It is more successful to perform this procedure earlier in life when the ear cartilage is less resistant to change.

An earlobe reduction is a procedure that makes the earlobe smaller. Ears do not really "grow" with aging but seem to due to increased laxity and sagging of the earlobe. Candidates for this earlobe reduction often also have excess skin laxity and/or jowling and may benefit from a lifting procedure. However, just reducing earlobe size may create a more youthful appearance. 

Gauge earlobe repair converts a stretched earlobe from gauge earring use to one that appears natural. Candidates for gauge earlobe repair often describe having "grown out" of them and wanting more normal earlobes again. Gauge earlobe repair may be a simple or complicated procedure depending on how stretched the earlobe has become. In almost all cases, a excess earlobe skin is removed and the remainder is flapped together to restore a round earlobe.

Approaches & Techniques

Otoplasty (Ear-Pinning)

The otoplasty procedure allows “pinning back” of the ear, making the ear less visible from the front. The upper, middle, and lower parts of the ear may protrude differently on each side, so we customize the plan to ensure a symmetric, normal-looking end result.

Earlobe Reduction

As we age, it is common for the earlobe to become elongated, making the ear look larger. In patients who have or have had gauge earrings, the earlobe becomes elongated due to the pressure of the earring. The earlobe reduction procedure removes extra tissue from the earlobe thereby reducing it to a more proportionate size.

Gauge Earlobe Repair

In patients who have or have had gauge earrings, the earlobe have become elongated due to the pressure of the earring. This elongation is permanent and will not restore to normal size even after gauge earrings are discontinued. The earlobe reduction procedure not only removes extra tissue from the earlobe but also shapes it to have a more normal appearance.

Split Earlobe Repair

Over time, earrings may pull through a piercing and create a partial or complete split in the earlobe. We are able to repair split earlobes in a manner that restores a normal appearance to the earlobe and allows future re-piercing.

Planning Your Procedure

The Consultation

During the consultation, we really want to get to know you and understand what makes you tick. we will review with you the changes you would like to make and their potential impact on your ears and life. We will also review your medical history and the history of your current concerns. We will examine your ears from both the front and side view. We will determine which components of your ears need to be addressed for an overall balanced treatment. 

After the consultation there is a second visit prior to surgery called a "preop". At this visit we will go into much greater detail about how to best prepare for the coming surgery. We offer a wealth of information about optimizing your recovery, ensuring proper healing, resuming normal activities, and avoiding complications.

Duration of Surgery & 
Anesthesia Options

An otoplasty may take about 3 hours, a complicated gauge repair may take 1-2 hours, and earlobe reductions and split repairs take less than an hour. All ear operations may be performed in the office under local anesthesia. We prefer to take small children, and those desiring to be fully asleep during the procedure, to the surgery center for general anesthesia. These are outpatient procedures.


For otoplasty, the incisions are well-concealed along the backside of the ear, and it is from here that the ear cartilage is molded. For earlobe reductions and repairs, the incisions are both on the front and back of the earlobe.

How It's Done

For otoplasty, soft tissue is removed from behind the ear and sometimes cartilage weakening procedures are performed to allow better re-positioning of the ear. Strong permanent sutures are used to pin the ear back to the area behind the ear. For earlobe reductions, a wedge of tissue is removed from the area where the earlobe meets the face. This allows the incision to be better camouflaged. A similar concept is used for gauge earlobe repairs, however, we also must plan removal or excess skin and restructuring of a round earlobe.


The typical at-home recovery time for otoplasty is is 5-7 days. Immediately after surgery a light compression dressing is kept in place for a few days followed by a swim band to support the ears against the head for one to two weeks. Stitches behind the ear are removed between the first and second weeks. At this point, most patients feel comfortable being in public.

Earlobe reductions and repairs can have down times as little as 1-2 days. The surgical site is dressed with ointment alone. Stitches are removed after 5-7 days.


The first night after surgery, you will feel a dull ache around your ears. Everyday thereafter, any discomfort will reduce significantly. It is normal for ears to be a bit more sensitive for a few weeks.

Swelling & Bruising

Swelling and bruising are expected and mostly subside in the first 2 weeks. Most bruising may be concealed with cover-up as it gradually fades. On average, 90% of the swelling subsides by 2 months after surgery. In general, earlobes take longer to heal. In the end, all swelling and bruising will go away.
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