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Spa Services Procedures and Treatments » Ear Surgery (otoplasty)

Ear Surgery (otoplasty)

Ears are features most people prefer go unnoticed.  When ears attract attention because they are not formed correctly, are larger than average, are not symmetric, or stick out far enough to be noticeable, children and adults often seek plastic surgery to sculpt the ears to a more pleasing shape, size or alignment.  The good news is that correction is possible and permanent—and the results can dramatically change a person’s appearance and improve self-image and confidence.  In part because of the improvements achieved, otoplasty is one of the few cosmetic plastic surgeries performed on children. 

As a board-certified facial reconstructive and plastic surgeon and board-certified otolaryngologist (ears, nose and throat specialist), Dr. Sykes is ideally suited to perform corrective ear surgery.  Dr. Sykes has performed countless otoplasty surgeries on children and adults, including surgery to repair birth defects and following trauma or cancer.

In your case
Dr. Sykes begins by talking with you to find out specifically what bothers you and what you hope to achieve.  He will discuss your concerns and the surgical techniques available.  Prior to surgery, he will also take pictures and create a surgery plan for your specific case.

What to expect
Otoplasty surgeries usually take less than two hours and are typically performed on an outpatient basis under light sedation, allowing you to sleep through the surgery and awaken when it is done.  During the surgery, your doctor will remove or add cartilage and skin to create the proper shape and position.  He will then secure your ear in proper position using sutures.  The final step is to tightly bandage the ears so that they remain in proper position as healing begins.  After a few days, the doctors remove the bandage and replace it with a thick headband that you will wear constantly for about a week and at night for another six weeks.  There will be some swelling and bruising, but pain and discomfort are relatively minor. 

The day following surgery, you will come into the office and Dr. Sykes will remove the bandage and check the incisions.  Though there will be swelling, you will be able to get an initial sense of the change in store.  Bruising is common, but typically fades completely within two weeks.

Ear Surgery (Otoplasty) Fast Facts
The following are general guidelines only.  Variations are common.

Surgery length:

Approximately one hour


Office or hospital outpatient surgery suite


Light sedation, patient is asleep during surgery


Tightly wrapped bandages for first few days, followed by a wide headband worn constantly for a week and at night for six weeks

Pain & discomfort:

Minimal pain and discomfort, possibly requiring pain medication for a few days

Swelling & bruising:

Minor, with swelling resolving within a few days and bruising typically fading completely in two weeks  

Suture removal:

After one week or self-dissolving

Return to work:

One to two weeks

Resume exercise:

Two weeks for gentle exercise, six weeks for strenuous exercise

Initial results:

Immediate, once swelling diminishes 

Final results:  

Within a few weeks


Permanent, affected by ongoing aging



Jonathan M. Sykes, MD
Professor/Director of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
UCDavis Medical Group
2521 Stockton Blvd., Suite 6206
Sacramento, CA 95817
(916) 734-2347
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