Otoplasty (Ear Plastic Surgery)

Otoplasty (Correction of Prominent Ears)


Otoplasty, the correction of prominent or protruding ears, is one of the most common plastic surgery procedures that is performed to correct developmental abnormalities from birth. Dr. Sherman is particularly interested in the correction of prominent ears and performs otoplasties or “ear pinning” on a regular basis. He has been featured in magazines for the correction of prominent ears in children, and has performed the procedure on the Today Show. Dr. Sherman is also the inventor of an instrument that helps in the correction of prominent ears.

Because of his individual interest in the ear correction, Dr. Sherman has produced several videos that are on YouTube. These Clips show the individual anatomy of the operation, the operation itself, and the postoperative result. The videos have been viewed over 100,000 times. We encourage you to visit these sites, they are quite informative.

Otoplasty overview by John E. Sherman, MD, FACS New York Plastic Surgeon

The Problem: There are several anatomical features that cause the protrusion of the ear. They are the lack of development or partial development of the antihelix, or a deep concha (cup) of the external ear. In most patients there is a combination of both of these features that may need to be adjusted during the otoplasty. Both of these problems will add to the protrusion of the ear, which is the distance from the edge of the helix (the ear rim) to the mastoid (the skull behind the ear). The normal distance of this measurement is about 2 cm.

Operation: The nature of otoplasty plastic surgery procedure varies, depending on the problems that must be corrected. These problems, as noted above, include: a deep cup of the ear (concha), a lack of development of the fold in the ear, and various cartilage abnormalities. All of these will be corrected during surgery.


If the ear surgery is performed on an adult, it is usually performed in our fully accredited outpatient facility. If however, it is performed on a child, or an adult requires the use of the hospital, several hospitals are offered. You will have the choice of either the New York Presbyterian Hospital – Weill Cornell Medical Center, the Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital, or Lenox Hill Hospital. Otoplasty often is performed at one of two stages in life. If recognized early, and correction is desired, otoplasty is best performed when the child is at the preschool level – age 5 thru 7. This is the most common time for correction, and continues through the early childhood years. Adult otoplasty correction now becoming more common than the correction during childhood. It has the advantage that it can be performed under local anesthesia, with or without sedation.

Anesthesia: Because the young child cannot cooperate, and the fear of the operating room is often strong, Dr. Sherman recommends that otoplasty on children be performed under general anesthesia at the hospital. During the induction of anesthesia, one parent is allowed in the room until the child is asleep. This is assuring and comforting for the child. If otoplasty is performed for the adolescent or adult, it may also be performed under intravenous sedation in our fully accredited outpatient facility.

Our anesthesiologists are fully trained and board-certified and experienced. For children, we use a pediatric anesthesiologist offered by the hospital.

Convalescence: There is no pain after the first day of surgery. However, you must wear a bandage for the first 3 days after the procedure. This keeps the gentle compression intact. We do recommend that you wear a ski band to sleep for 1-2 months after otoplasty surgery to avoid folding of the ear. Discoloration and bruising is gone by ten days after the otoplasty. For the adult, you may return to work usually after one week.

Complications: The incidence of complications for otoplasty is remarkably low. Occasionally correction of the otoplasty
may not stay, and recurrence is possible. This may be repaired or corrected at a later time. There are additional complications that can occur, which will be reviewed at the time of consultation.

Insurance Reimbursement: There are some insurance policies that reimburse the cost of the otoplasty operation if performed in the early childhood years. This is not a common occurrence. Our office staff will help you contact your carrier to see if this may apply for you.