Otoplasty Risks

Ear Surgery Risks and Complications - How Can You Avoid Them?

Reviewed by Yael Halaas, MD

Ear surgery (otoplasty) does confer its share of risks and complications in children and adults. Children who undergo otoplasty may be at high risk for certain complications because they may have difficulty adhering to postoperative instructions such as refraining from rough play or contact sports. These activities can cause sutures to loosen, which may in turn cause the ears to return to their previous shape. The onus often falls on parents to make sure children comply with the doctor's instructions. The good news is that this surgery is often extremely successful on children between the ages of 6 and 10 because their ear cartilage is still pliable.

At any age, risks of ear surgery include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Anesthesia complications
  • Scarring
  • Poor wound healing
  • Numbness or other sensory changes
  • Change of pigment in the ears
  • Blood clot in the ear (usually removable with a needle)
  • Asymmetrical ear appearance
  • Hearing loss
  • Dissatisfaction with the cosmetic outcome

Many of these risks can be minimized and/or eliminated. For example, taking all your antibiotics as directed will reduce your risk of infection after ear surgery.

In addition, if you are a smoker, your surgeon will likely ask you to quit. Smoking interferes with your body's ability to heal, so quitting smoking can reduce your risks of poor wound healing and raised red scars. Learn more about the risks associated with smoking and facial plastic surgery, and how to quit now.

Complications can also be avoided by carefully protecting the ears after surgery. This is especially important for children, who are at higher risk of accidentally injuring their ears following otoplasty. Your surgeon will likely recommend wearing a protective bandage for 10 to 14 days. It is best to avoid wearing shirts that must be pulled over the head; wear button-up or zip-up shirts instead.

You can help lower your risk of complications and increase your odds of a smooth ear surgery recovery by choosing a highly skilled facial plastic surgeon with extensive experience performing ear surgery. Considering the cost of ear surgery, it is essential that you evaluate all your surgical options. There are many surgeons to choose from, all of whom seem to boast stellar credentials. Deciding which one to trust for your procedure can be an anxiety-provoking task. All About Facial Rejuvenation strives to make this process as stress-free as possible by providing thorough consumer information and a directory of highly trained and talented surgeons. To find a surgeon in your area, click the Find a Surgeon button below.

  • Halaas 58x57

    Yael Halaas, MD, FACS

    60 E. 56th Street
    3rd Floor
    New York, NY 10022
    (332) 239-6439

  • P

    Mune Gowda, MD

    3270 West Big Beaver
    Suite 415
    Troy, MI 48084

  • P

    Sean Maguire, MD

    Physician's Center for Beauty
    24 Chenoweth Lane
    Louisville, KY 40207
    (866) 774-9105