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Pinnaplasty (adult)

5-minute read

What is an otoplasty?

An otoplasty (or pinnaplasty) is an operation to improve the appearance of your ears.

Is an otoplasty suitable for me?

You are most likely to benefit from an otoplasty if you are self-conscious about your ears, you are being teased or if you have unusually-shaped ears.

What are the benefits of surgery?

Your ears should have a better shape.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Illustration of a pinnaplasty.
a An ear sticking out with unusual folds
b An ear closer to the head with more normal folds

For adults, surgery is the only option to change the shape of your ears.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is usually performed under a local anaesthetic. The operation usually takes about an hour.

Your surgeon will make a cut at the back of your ear and peel off some skin from the cartilage. They will change the shape of the cartilage so your ear lies closer to your head. Your surgeon may need to use stitches to hold your ear in position and to create folds.

Your surgeon may also make a cut at the front of your ear and peel back your skin so they can lightly score the cartilage. This technique tends to make the cartilage bend towards the head.

Your surgeon will place a dressing on your head to give your ears support.

How can I prepare myself for the operation?

If you smoke or use nicotine products, stopping smoking at least 6 weeks before and for 6 weeks after surgery may reduce your risk of developing complications and will improve your long-term health. Many surgeons will not perform surgery if you are still smoking or using nicotine products.

Try to maintain a healthy weight. You have a higher risk of developing complications if you are overweight.

Regular exercise should help to prepare you for the operation, help you to recover and improve your long-term health. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Speak to the healthcare team about any vaccinations you might need to reduce your risk of serious illness while you recover. When you come into hospital, practise hand washing and wear a face covering when asked.

What complications can happen?

General complications

  • bleeding
  • infection
  • allergic reaction to the equipment, materials or medication
  • chest infection

Specific complications

  • cosmetic problems
  • cauliflower ear

Consequences of this procedure

  • pain
  • scarring of the skin, which can be unsightly

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day or the day after. For a few weeks, while the swelling and bruising settles, rest and do not do strenuous exercise.

You can return to work after the head dressing has been removed.

Do not play sports for 6 weeks.

The results of an otoplasty are usually permanent.


An otoplasty is an operation to improve the appearance of your ears. The operation should be performed only if the aim is to improve your self-confidence and to make you more comfortable with your appearance. You should consider the options carefully and have realistic expectations about the results.


The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you. Medical Illustration Copyright ©

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Last reviewed: September 2023

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