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How to Fix Ears that Protrude – Overly Prominent Ears

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How to fix prominent ears

Effective Strategies for Reshaping and Correcting Protruding Ears

If your ears stick out more than you’d like, you’re not alone. Protruding ears are a common physical feature, but for some, they can be a source of discomfort or unwanted attention. In this blog, Chester Consultant Plastic Surgeon Anca Breahna discusses everything you need to know about overly prominent ears, including why they occur and the full spectrum of treatments available—from simple at-home strategies to medical procedures.

What Causes Ears to Protrude?

The shape and position of your ears are largely determined by genetics, which means they are inherited from your parents. During the developmental phase in the womb, the cartilage that forms the ear structure might not fold properly, leading to ears that stick out. While this is a natural variation in human anatomy, it is quite common and usually harmless.

Protruding ears are quite a frequent occurrence, affecting around 5% of the population. It’s a condition observed worldwide and seen equally across all ethnicities and genders. The consistency in numbers suggests a strong genetic link, and because it does not typically affect hearing, it is often considered more of a cosmetic concern than a medical one.

Consulting with a Specialist to Correct Overly Prominent Ears

You might consider seeing a specialist if you or your family are feeling unhappy about the appearance of your ears. It’s especially important for parents to observe any signs of distress in their children regarding their appearance. A consultation with Anca can provide guidance.

During the consultation, Anca will examine the ears, discuss the possible treatments, and explain what each procedure entails, including the benefits and potential risks. It’s an opportunity for you to express your expectations and for Anca to provide a realistic outcome of what can be achieved.

Non-Surgical Options for Protruding Ears

For new-borns, ear moulding can be an effective treatment if started within the first few weeks of life. This non-surgical method involves applying a soft brace to the ear that gradually shapes the cartilage. Early intervention is key as the cartilage is most pliable and responsive to reshaping during this time.

Another non-invasive option is the use of compression headbands. These are typically used for infants after the ear moulding window has passed but can still be effective in slightly older babies. The headband gently presses the ears closer to the head, helping to reshape the cartilage gradually.

Surgical Options for Correcting Protruding Ears

Surgery for protruding ears

Otoplasty, commonly referred to as ear pinning, is a surgical procedure aimed at changing the shape, position, or size of the ears. This option is considered when non-surgical treatments are not viable or have not been successful. The surgery is usually performed on children aged five or older, as by this age, the ear cartilage is stable enough for correction and the child can participate in the recovery process.

Types of Otoplasty Techniques

There are several techniques that Anca may use, each suited to different needs and outcomes. Here’s an overview of the most common types of otoplasty techniques:


The pinning technique is the most traditional form of otoplasty and involves reshaping the ear’s cartilage to create or enhance its natural folds. This helps in pulling the ears closer to the head, reducing their prominence. During the procedure, Anca makes a small incision behind the ear to access the cartilage. The cartilage is then sculpted and secured using permanent sutures that hold the ear in the new position. This method is highly effective for those who wish to achieve a more natural ear contour.


Scoring involves making precise cuts or scratches on the cartilage to weaken it, allowing it to bend towards the head. This technique can be used alone or in combination with other methods to help achieve the desired ear shape. By scoring the cartilage, Anca can manipulate the ear more extensively, which is beneficial for cases where the ears need a significant repositioning. This method requires a skilled hand to ensure that the cartilage bends correctly and heals in a more aesthetically pleasing position.

Suture Techniques

Suture techniques in otoplasty do not involve cutting the cartilage. Instead, sutures are strategically placed to fold the cartilage back on itself. This method is less invasive and relies on stitches to hold the new shape of the ear. There are different suture techniques, including:

  • Mustardé Technique: This involves placing multiple sutures through the cartilage to pull the ear back towards the head.
  • Furnas Technique: In this approach, sutures are used to anchor the ear cartilage to the mastoid bone behind the ear, providing a more permanent correction.

Each of these techniques has its advantages and potential challenges, and the choice of which to use will depend on individual factors such as your age, the elasticity of the ear cartilage, and the degree of correction needed. Anca will assess these factors and recommend the most appropriate technique to achieve a balanced, natural-looking result. Following the surgery, patients usually experience a transformation not only in their appearance but also in how they feel about their ears, often leading to increased comfort in social situations and a broader range of hairstyle options.

Preparing for Surgery to Fix Ears that Protrude

Before proceeding with otoplasty, a thorough medical evaluation is necessary to ensure the suitability for surgery. This includes a detailed medical history and a physical examination. Depending on your health, additional tests may be required to clear them for the procedure.

Preparing for surgery involves several practical steps to ensure a smooth process and recovery. You will need to arrange for time off from work or school and prepare your home for your post-surgery recovery period. It is also important to have someone available to help with your immediate needs after the surgery, such as driving you home and assisting you during the first few days.

The Surgery Experience

Otoplasty is generally performed under local anaesthesia with sedation, though general anaesthesia may be used, especially for younger children. The surgery takes about two hours. Anca will make incisions behind the ears to minimise visible scarring and then sculpt the cartilage into a more typical position closer to the head.

The type of anaesthesia used will depend on the extent of the surgery and your comfort and safety requirements. Local anaesthesia with sedation allows patients to be comfortable and pain-free during the procedure while minimising the risks associated with general anaesthesia.

Post-Surgical Care after Ears Surgery

After the surgery, it’s common to experience some discomfort, swelling, and bruising around the ears. This is a normal part of the healing process. Anca will apply bandages around your head to support the new position of the ears and to aid in the initial healing phase. You’ll be given detailed instructions on how to care for your ears during this time, including how to sleep in a position that does not put pressure on the ears.

Recovery from otoplasty can vary, but usually the bandages are removed after a few days and replaced with a lighter dressing. You may be advised to wear a headband at night to maintain the position of the ears for several weeks after the surgery. It’s important to follow all post-operative instructions and attend follow-up appointments to ensure proper healing. Most patients can return to school or work within a week, but should avoid any activity that might bend the ears for at least a month.

Risks and Complications of Ear Surgery

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved in otoplasty. These can include infection, bleeding, and an adverse reaction to the anaesthesia. Specific to ear surgery, there is also the risk of asymmetry, where the ears may not be perfectly aligned or have a different shape. Scarring is another risk, although typically these are behind the ears and not visible.

Cost and Insurance Considerations

The cost of otoplasty can vary widely depending on the surgeon’s experience, the complexity of the procedure, and the geographic location. It’s important to get a detailed quote from your surgeon’s office that includes all associated costs, such as the surgeon’s fee, facility fees, and anaesthesia.

The average cost of otoplasty in UK ranges from approximately £2,500 to £8,000. This price typically includes the surgeon’s fee, costs of anaesthesia, and facility charges. It is important to note that these prices are indicative and should be confirmed before scheduling the procedure.

FAQs about How to Fix Ears That Protrude – Overly Prominent Ears

FAQs Anca Breahna

What are the risks associated with otoplasty for protruding ears?

  • While otoplasty is generally considered safe, like any surgical procedure, it carries some risks. Common risks include infection, bleeding, and adverse reactions to anaesthesia. Specific to otoplasty, there’s a risk of asymmetry where one ear may not perfectly match the other in appearance post-surgery. There may also be scarring, although it’s usually behind the ear and not visible. In rare cases, patients might experience changes in skin sensation or dissatisfaction with the results, requiring revision surgery.

How long does it take to recover from otoplasty?

  • The recovery time can vary, but most patients are able to return to work or school within a week of the surgery. The initial healing phase, where major swelling and bruising subside, typically takes about 2 to 3 weeks. However, complete healing and final results might take up to 6 months as the ears fully settle into their new position. During recovery, it’s important to follow your surgeon’s care instructions, which might include wearing a headband to support the ears, especially at night.

Are there non-surgical options to correct protruding ears?

  • Yes, there are non-surgical options, particularly effective in infants and young children. For infants under six months, ear moulding using custom-made splints can reshape the cartilage naturally. For older children and adults, although less common, specialised ear taping techniques can sometimes be used to alter ear appearance temporarily. However, these methods are typically less effective than surgical options for permanent changes.

At what age is otoplasty recommended?

  • Otoplasty can be performed on children as young as 5 years old, as by this age, the ear cartilage is mature enough for correction, and the child can safely undergo anaesthesia. Performing the surgery at a young age can also prevent potential emotional distress from bullying or self-consciousness during school years. However, otoplasty is also routinely performed on adults, and there is no upper age limit for the surgery as long as the individual is in good health.

How do I choose the right surgeon for otoplasty?

  • Choosing the right surgeon is crucial to achieving the best results. Look for a consultant plastic surgeon who has extensive experience in performing otoplasty. Check their credentials, review before-and-after photos of their previous patients, and read reviews to assess patient satisfaction. It’s also important to have a consultation with the surgeon to discuss your goals and expectations, and to ensure you feel comfortable with their approach and communication style.

Further Reading about Procedures with Consultant Plastic Surgeon Anca Breahna

Medical References about Otoplasty

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About Anca Breahna – Consultant Plastic Surgeon

top UK cosmetic surgeon anca breahnaMs Anca Breahna, PhD, MSc, FEBOPRAS, FRCS (Plast) is a highly regarded Consultant Plastic Surgeon specialising in the field of Aesthetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery. Anca performs a range of breast, body and face surgery and minor skin procedures.

As one of the very few female Plastic Surgeons in her region, she is able to offer that unique female perspective, with empathy, attention to detail and personalised care.

Anca Breahna’s surgical training has been largely undertaken within the United Kingdom. She began a rigorous training programme in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in 1999, after achieving her medical degree from the University of Bucharest. Miss Breahna attained her PhD degree at the same university in 2007 for her medical research. She then relocated to the UK to further extend her qualifications and training.

Anca’s NHS practice is now focused on Breast Reconstructive Surgery, Skin Cancer Surgery, Hand Surgery and soft tissue reconstruction. Over the last 15 years, through her pursuit of further training and education, Anca has developed a special interest and expert practical experience in a range of Aesthetic Breast and Body Surgery.

It is Anca’s true dedication and commitment to her field, that sets her aside from her peers. Her extensive surgical training means that you are in safe hands. She is renowned for providing exceptional care, support and helping achieve realistic goals for her patients.

Anca will treat you in a straightforward manner, with respect, consideration and empathy to ensure you are comfortable with your choice.



Your Next Steps

Do your Research

  • Please read our website pages and blogs to learn more about your intended procedure.
  • All Surgery has risks and potential complications. Please read more about the risks of your surgery.

Making The Most Of Your Consultation

  • A Medical Referral from your Doctor before your consultation is not compulsory however  it is recommended.
  • Please arrive slightly early for your in-person consultation with Anca – Car parking is available on-site at all hospitals.
  • You are welcome to bring a friend or relative to help consider the information and discuss your options.
  • Please be aware you may need to undress for a physical exam so wear simple clothes.
  • Ensure you also take a lot of notes during the consultation and thoroughly read all the documents provided.

Want more information before scheduling your consultation?

Please call to find out more about availability, pricing and medical payment plans or to request more information about the procedure, contact us.

How to Book your Consultation with Anca Breahna – Plastic Surgeon

You can book your consultation with Anca by paying the £150 cosmetic consultation fee when you make your appointment. This fee covers further consultations about the same concern.

Contact Anca’s Team

Call Claire on 0800 080 6026 or Joedy on 03332 244111 to arrange your consultation or email us for more information.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

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    Nuffield Health
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