Concerning Otoplasty and Prominent Ears; do protruding ears go away with age?

Hi, I was debating with a friend and she told me that her doctor told her he had many cases in which prominent ears or protruding ears went away with time. I looked it up and there doesn't seem to be any fact concerning this. I read that ears get bigger as we age and so will the protrusion. So, do protruding ears go away with age? If so, are there any reliable studies concerning the matter? Thank yo for your time.

Doctor Answers 5

Protruding ears

I have been observing ears as a plastic surgeon for 37 years and have a few observations:

1. Protruding ears will be les obvious in many children as their head size catches up the ears.  That is why I advise parents to wait until the child is old enough to be involved in the decision process--age 9 or 10

2. Ears do not grow with age--the face shrinks from fat loss ; the earlobes also  lose fat and sag more--looks like the ears have grown but we have no evidence of that.  (same thing for the nose--refilling the tissues with fat around the nose and even the nose itself makes it appear smaller.)

3. Every type of protruding ear needs a little different approach depending upon the parts of the ear involved--in other words, otoplasty is not just one, standard procedure. The procedure will vary widely by the practitioner's experience and the anatomic deformities that are being treated.

Protruding ears and age

The external ear reaches the majority of its adult size within early childhood (4-5 years old), and its final size closer to the teenage years.  While the ear cartilage of a newborn child is soft and pliable (making ear molding and non-surgical correction possible), the pliability of the ear is generally gone by the end of the first year of life.  Excessively protruding ears are most commonly caused by an overgrowth of cartilage height at the conchal bowl (the seashell shaped portion of the ear just behind the ear canal) and a poorly-formed or absent antihelical fold (the Y-shaped fold of cartilage in the upper 2/3 of the ear).  These characteristics do not improve with age.  

Inessa Fishman, MD
Atlanta Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Protruding ears? Does this go away with time?

Protruding ears? Does this go away with time? Thank you for the question.   I would say that there is some truth in that. Your ears are basically adult size by the time your teenage years.    This is also true for your head and face. That being said there are still changes in fact I am in facial features as we age from teenagers to young people in her 20s and so on. What I would say is if you are very young person just give it more time and see how things change if you don't feel that strongly about it.    If you have an otoplasty or ear pinning surgery now it's forever and you can't change it.   If you give yourself a few years to see how things evolve then you can always have surgery in the future. I think it's smart to give it time if you're not sure yet.   I really enjoy doing Otoplasty but  but most surgeries it's not one you should take lightly. It will change the way you look 


Chase Lay MD

Chase Lay, MD
Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 72 reviews

Concerning otoplasty and prominent ears, do protruding ears go away with age?

Protruding ears are caused by a lack of the anti-helical fold and by the angle of the conchal bowl to the head. Both of these issues are addressed with an otoplasty procedure. The anti-helical fold is re-created and held in that position with permanent sutures. The conchal bowl is set back against the scalp. Patients do not grow out of protruding years. For more information and many before and after examples of otoplasty, please see the link and the video below

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 129 reviews

Protruding ears

No, protruding ears do not "un-protrude" with time. They are caused by altered development of the cartilage within the ears and can only be changed through surgery. I suppose one could "grow into" their ears in time but the protrusion would remain.

Justin Cohen, MD
Washington DC Otolaryngologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 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.