Otoplasty generally takes 2 to 3 hours, and is performed on an outpatient basis. The type of anesthesia used typically depends on the age of the patient, with general anesthesia recommended for very young patients, and local anesthesia and a sedative recommended for older children and adults.
Otoplasty begins with a small incision being made behind the ear, in the natural crease where the ear meets the head. The cartilage is then sculpted and bent to achieve the desired appearance. In some types of otoplasty, skin is removed, but the cartilage is left in one piece and merely bent back on itself to create a less protruding ear.
After sculpting the cartilage to the desired shape, sutures and a bandage are used to hold the ear in position until healing is complete. To make sure they are as symmetrical as possible, both ears may be operated on even if only one has a problem.