Ear Surgery (Otoplasty, Ear Pinning, Ear Lobe Repair) - San Diego, CA*

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It may not seem like a big deal to some people, but ears that are too large, too small, stick out, or are somehow odd can lower your confidence and lead to teasing. Ear surgery, also known as otoplasty or ear reshaping, can adjust the size, position, proportion, and symmetry of the ears to improve your overall appearance and boost your self-image. At La Jolla Plastic Surgery in San Diego, CA triple board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Chaffoo performs ear surgery for patients of all ages, from young children to teenagers and adults. Ear surgery should be performed after the ears reach their full size, which usually happens around age 6, to avoid changes to the results. Ear surgery can improve the shape and size of the ears, pin back ears that stick out, repair trauma to the ear, and heal stretched or torn earlobes. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Chaffoo to learn more about ear surgery and how it can help you or your child.

Before Surgery

Dr. Chaffoo likes to spend a lot of time with his patient (and the parents of younger patients) to discuss concerns and expectations before creating a surgical plan for ear correction. During your consultation, Dr. Chaffoo will discuss:

  • Anesthesia options
  • The patient's goals and concerns
  • Surgical technique and where incisions will be made
  • What will happen before and after the procedure
  • Aftercare and recovery requirements and suggestions
  • Potential risks and signs to watch for during recovery

Surgical Technique

Ear surgery may be performed with the patient under general or local anesthesia, based on the extent of the procedure and the comfort of the patient. Depending on the corrections that are being performed during your ear surgery, the incisions may be made behind or inside the ear, which will make the surgical scars difficult to detect after they have healed. Once the incisions are made, Dr. Chaffoo may remove and/or shape the ear cartilage to make the desired improvements. Dr. Chaffoo will explain your specific surgical technique during your consultation after he determines your goals.


Patients should be taken home by a responsible adult and younger patients especially should be watched closely for the first 24 hours after surgery to check for signs of infection or complications (a fever over 101° F, dizziness, nausea, excessive bleeding). To improve healing and minimize discomfort, the patient should keep their head elevated and avoid putting pressure on the ear. The ears should be kept clean and dry to minimize the risk of infection. Most patients can return to their normal lives in 1 week.


The results of ear surgery are permanent unless you experience a trauma to the ear after your surgery. The final results of your ear surgery are usually visible about 2 weeks after surgery, but some small changes can still occur for up to 1 year after surgery.

Expected Costs

Ear surgery usually costs around $5,000, but this depends on what is being done to correct the ears. While ear surgery for cosmetic reasons is not covered by health insurance, the repair of a genetic defect or injury may be covered. The front office at La Jolla Plastic Surgery can help you communicate with your health insurance company or explain payment and medical financing options.

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Average Cost  
From $5,000
Recovery Time  
1 Week
Average Procedure Time  
Post-op Follow-up  
Procedure Recovery Location  
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Ear Surgery FAQs

Conditions Treated?

Ear surgery can correct many problems with the size, shape, or position of the ears, including:

  • Cauliflower or elf ear
  • Ear deformities caused by injury or genetics
  • Ears that are disproportionate to the head
  • Ears that stick out from the head
  • Overly large or small ears
  • Torn or stretched earlobes
  • Uneven or odd ear placement

Nonsurgical Options?

Studies show that 70% of infant ear deformities do not resolve on their own. Fortunately, the EarWell™ Infant Ear Correction System can help. This nonsurgical, pain-free technique reshapes a baby's ears using soft ear cradles. Covered by most insurance, EarWell eliminates the need for corrective ear surgery. Ask Dr. Chaffoo about your options during your initial consultation.

Combining Treatments?

Ear surgery for younger patients is performed alone since other plastic surgeries should not be performed before a person is done growing and developing. Ear surgery for adults may be combined with another facial surgery, such as rhinoplasty, if they have other cosmetic concerns and goals.

Potential Surgical Risks?

Like all surgical procedures, ear surgery does have some potential complications including:

  • Scarring
  • Infection
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Loss of sensation in and around the ears

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*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.