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Will I Be Awake During Ear Surgery?

What kind of anesthesia is used for an otoplasty (ear surgery)? Will I be awake and aware of what's going on?

Doctor Answers 28

Anesthesia during otoplasty

These questions should be discussed with your treating surgeon.

In my San Francisco area practice, for simple otoplasty (cartilage scoring and suture correction of prominent ears) we offer local + sedation in our office or general anesthesia in our member hospitals.

Be aware that more complicated otoplasties (up to and including microsurgical reconstruction with tissue taken from the forearm or thigh and cartilage harvested from the rib) may require general anesthesia and would not be safe to perform under local anesthesia or in an office setting.

It depends on the extent of the surgery.

I hope this helps.

Otoplasty; Ear Surgery and Anesthesia Type: Local vs. Conscious Sedation vs. General Anesthesia\

There are a variety of ear surgery types depending on the severity of the deformity. Some procedures are as simple as 5 or 10 minutes while others may take hours. The decision to perform the surgery under various types of anesthesia, including local anesthesia, conscious sedation, or general anesthesia, depends on surgeon preference, the comorbidities of the patient (associated diseases), length of surgery, and complexity of the surgery.

Routinely, it is best to undergo the surgery under adequate anesthesia in order to allow precise manipulation and correction of the ear deformity.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 70 reviews

Ear surgery can be done with you awake or asleep

For otoplasty, the surgery can be done with you awake or asleep. Talk to your surgeon so they discuss the options wtih you. If they do offer you the awake options, they will likely give you some type of sedation to help you relax. If you are very worried about being aware and think that you can not lay still for an hour or so, then you should choose to have anesthesia for the surgery. Good luck with your surgery.

Dr. David Shafer


David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 64 reviews

Anesthesia for otoplasty

I feel almost all otoplasty in adults can be performed under local anesthesia only. This even includes some patients in the teenage years. Anesthetizing the ear with local anesthetic can be done quite easily without significant discomfort. If you were feeling anxious about the procedure a medication like Valium could be prescribed for you to take prior to surgery.

Jerold Olson, MD
Tucson Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Otoplasty & Anesthesia

There are several types of anesthesia that can be used during otoplasty.  Most commonly, otoplasty is performed with local anesthesia with and without I.V sedation or under general anesthesia.  Both are excellent options with high satisfaction rates amongst patients.

Our biggest priority is patient safety, and because of this, we always have an anesthesiologist present to monitor the patient when either I.V. sedation or general anesthesia are utilized.  In younger patients we prefer general anesthesia, but in older patients we prefer local anesthesia.  This allows the patient the ability to see the results before leaving the operating room.  If you have concerns about anesthesia or intra operative safety, make sure you discuss these issues with your surgeon.

Ear Surgery Done While Awake or Asleep

Depending on the nature of the surgery and what is discussed during your consultation, it can either be performed while you are awake or asleep. Both options are suitable. Pain can always be managed with some type of sedative or general anesthesia.

Carlo Honrado, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Otoplasty and Anesthesia

Otoplasty can be performed with either general anesthesia or sedation.  The choice depends on the patient's preferences and the complexity of the surgery.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Anesthesia for an otoplasty...

An otoplasty can be performed under local or general anesthesia based on the severity of the problem, the patients age, and level of comfort.  An evaluation of the patient's medical history can also determine whether or not a local or general anesthesia is required.  Usually, the patient undergoes otoplasty under general anesthesia, but if a local is chosen, you will be awake and will usually feel no pain.  Make a consultation appointment with a board certified facial plastic or plastic surgeon to determine your best options, 

Andrew Miller, MD
Edison Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 113 reviews

Otoplasty anesthesia

I perform otoplasties under either sedation or even with local anesthesia in my office surgery suite. Children do require general anesthesia but adults do have the option of which anesthesia they are most comfortable with. I find that patients are cost conscious these days and are willing to endure a few minutes of pain from the local anesthesia in return for a significant saving and the ability to leave the office awake and alert shortly after the procedure is over.

Robert L. Kraft, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Otoplasty: prominent ear repair under anesthesia

Prominent ears can be repaired under local or general anesthesia and will depend on the severity of the problem, the patient tolerance and the surgeon's preference.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.