otoplasty houston

Otoplasty, also known as ear surgery or ear pinning surgery, is a procedure that surgically reshapes the ear to provide a more natural appearance. Otoplasty is offered to those who are concerned with the shape of their ears, due to congenital or other reasons. Otoplasty can correct a variety of conditions such as:

  • Prominent ears
  • Abnormal shape of the ear cartilage (floppy ear, Stahl’s ear)
  • Cauliflower ear (which is caused by repetitive trauma and multiple hematomas)
  • Large, stretched, or torn earlobes
  • Earlobes with large folds and wrinkles
  • Microtia (a condition of abnormally small ears)
  • Accessory ear cartilage (present as buds in front of the ear)

New ears or parts of ears can be constructed through otoplasty for patients who are missing them due to birth defects, severe injuries, or skin cancer.

As one of the leading providers of otoplasty in Houston and Webster, Texas, our facial plastic surgeons, led by Dr. Tyler McElwee, offers this procedure to create a more aesthetic appearance that will boost our patients’ confidence and self-esteem.

Real Patient Otoplasty Results

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Otoplasty with our surgeons is performed using minimally invasive techniques that promote natural-looking results with less downtime and scarring. Having performed hundreds of otoplasty procedures, we use our experience to help patients, especially younger ones, overcome their fears with excellent care throughout the entire process.

Request Your ConsultationYou can request a consultation online or if you have any questions please call the office 713-633-4411.


Otoplasty can be performed at a relatively young age. It is recommended to wait until a child’s ears have stopped growing and their body is developed enough to handle the procedure easily. Children who are good candidates for ear surgery should:

  • Be in good physical condition
  • Have no chronic or untreated ear infections
  • Be able to communicate their feelings and not object when the surgery is discussed.

For adults, the ideal otoplasty patient is:

  • In good general health with no chronic or untreated ear infections
  • Has ear cartilage that is stable enough for correction
  • Has realistic expectations of the results of the surgery
  • Able to quit smoking at least two weeks before the procedure and until healing is complete


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Before an otoplasty procedure, our patients first meet with our surgeons for a consultation. Our doctor will discuss with them the expected outcome and assess the current shape, size, and placement of their ears. A treatment plan is then created and discussed to set expectations for the outcome of the procedure.

Ear surgery takes 2 – 4 hours, depending on the complexity of the surgery. It is an outpatient procedure and is typically performed under local anesthesia for adults and general anesthesia for children.

To begin the surgery, an incision is made behind or in the folds of the ear. Our doctors then carefully remove, fold, or reshape the cartilage and skin, depending on the treatment plan developed. Once they have achieved the desired appearance, the incisions are closed with sutures, and bandages are applied.


Otoplasty is not usually covered by insurance, as it is considered a cosmetic procedure. However, in some cases, insurance may cover an otoplasty that is done to relieve a medical condition.

A more accurate estimate will be provided after your initial consultation with our surgeons and after they have determined the treatment plan for each patient.

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Recovery from ear surgery is relatively quick. Most adults can return to light activities after 7 days. The bandages applied after surgery are removed after 1 – 2 days and replaced with a sports headband, which should be worn during the day for up to a week and before bed for 2 – 3 weeks.

To minimize swelling, our surgeons fit each patient with a headband to protect the ears from injury while they heal. Patients are advised to sleep on their back to speed the healing process and to wear the headband at night. Pain medication and antibiotic ointments may also be prescribed to our patients with instructions on how to take them to ensure that they avoid any infection while recovering at home. Follow-up visits are scheduled for our patients to monitor their recovery progress.

Bruising and swelling should be expected within the first two weeks. Final results should be seen within 3 – 4 months. Most patients can return to work or school within a week, although more strenuous activities and contact sports may need to be postponed longer.

Below is a chart that shows you what to expect during the recovery period.

Swelling and bruising 1 – 2 weeks
Support headband 2 – 4 weeks
Elevated sleeping position 2 – 4 weeks
Light activities (chores, mild exercises, etc.) 1 – 2 weeks
Work and school 1 – 2 weeks
Heavy exercise and sports One month, or on the recommendation of the doctor


What is involved in the otoplasty procedure?

An otoplasty is a facial plastic surgery procedure that involves reshaping the ear, its size, and its position to achieve a more balanced, natural-looking appearance. It’s a procedure offered to children and adults who struggle with protruding ears or who have conditions in the ear caused either by genetics, birth defects, or severe injuries.

After otoplasty, we advise our patients to sleep with their heads elevated for at least 2 weeks. They should refrain from sleeping on their side as this may affect the outcome of the procedure after recovery. For patients who are afraid to turn over in the middle of the night, we recommend placing pillows on their sides.

We recommended our patients refrain from washing their hair with shampoo for at least one week after otoplasty, as this may irritate the sutures in place. Usually, patients can wash their hair with shampoo once the head bandages are removed after a week and at a follow-up visit at our clinic, but it is important to still be very careful when washing around the ears to avoid discomfort and to keep the scabs from slipping.

After ear surgery, most patients choose to wear tops with a wide neckline or button front to avoid body contact with the ears during recovery.

Patients may gradually resume light endurance training 3 weeks after ear surgery. However, we recommend waiting at least 6 weeks or until fully cleared by our surgeons before returning to a full exercise routine – especially with the heavy lifting – to avoid ear pain.

It is perfectly normal for the ears to be tender after otoplasty and some swelling and bruising can be expected, lasting 1 – 2 weeks. During this time, patients can take pain medication prescribed by our doctors to help relieve it. Patients are encouraged to report any problems to our surgeons during follow-up visits so they can examine if there are any infections in the surgical area.

The supportive headband fitted to our patients must be worn for the first 2 weeks after otoplasty to keep the ears in the correct position and protect them from injury.

If the patient is recovering without complications, the headband can be removed after 2 weeks. However, for the best result, our doctors may advise the patient to wear it for another 2 weeks, especially when sleeping.

Patients must refrain from wearing earrings for at least 7 days, but avoiding any manipulation of the ears for 2 weeks also produces better results.

A postoperative hematoma or hemorrhage is a relatively rare early complication that occurs immediately after an otoplasty, so our surgeons will be able to recognize it right away if it manifests. To prevent it from occurring after the surgery, we place a dressing on the surgical site before our patients go home.

Since the sutures are usually removed a week after the procedure, patients can also stop applying daily antibiotic ointments at this time.

If you are considering otoplasty, it is helpful to make sure that your ear surgeon is a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience performing otoplasty. They should know various techniques to perform this procedure so that patients can achieve their specific individual goals. They should also have experience working with children and adults and know their anatomy to create the best and safest treatment plan for them.

Incisions for ear surgery are usually made on the back of the ear, and only when necessary in the inner folds on the front of the ear.

Helpful postoperative care tips that our doctors will recommend to our patients include sleeping elevated, taking pain medication, applying antibiotic ointments, and avoiding contact with the ears to avoid infection.

If you have had an otoplasty and are not satisfied with the results, a revision otoplasty cannot be considered until the patient has fully healed from the initial surgery, which can take anywhere from 3 months to 1 year.

Improvements can almost always be made, but sometimes it is impossible to completely erase the traces of the first surgery. Common complaints after otoplasty that can be improved with otoplasty revision are ears that are still too far from the head, ears that are too close to the head, unnatural contours, visible scars, sharp edges, and earlobe deformities.

*The content and images on this page are provided with the sole intention of educating potential patients on the procedure discussed above. Results vary per individual and are dependent on our doctor’s consultation prior to the procedure. We strongly recommend undergoing a formal consultation with a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon prior to scheduling and undergoing any surgical or non-surgical treatment.