Is it Possible to Have Subtle/Minor Otoplasty? (photo)

Hello, I'm a 46 y/o man. My ears are symmetrically protruding, but that is not really my issue. The problem is that both ears are flat with NO FOLDING whatsoever on the anthelix (spelling??) (picture attached.) What I'm interested in is a procedure that will just create a VERY SUBTLE change, i.e. create a little bit of fold on both ears so that they will look more natural. I don't need them pinned back all the way to the head. Is this possible? What'd be the cost for both ears? Thank you

Doctor Answers 9

Subtle otoplasty

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The answer is yes.  There are two general parts to an otoplasty.  One is to move the "bowl" of the ear closer to the skull.  That's the "pinned down" component that you don't want.  The second is the the creation of an antihelical fold in the ear to give it more natural texture and lines.  You can have one or the other or both.  You request is reasonable and very doable.  The cost can vary from $2,500 to $3,500.  Down time is about a week but contact sports are put off for a number of weeks after that.

Hope that helps

Chase Lay, MD

Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 80 reviews

Minor otoplasty

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It is definitely possible to do as much or as little as you want with otoplasty.  I would tell you with the limited view of your ear, however, that you would probably need at least some reduction or modification of the concha (or "bowl" part) of the ear as well as creation of an anti-helical fold.  This is commonly done along with creation of the anti-helical fold to maintain a normal ear shape. 

Matthew Bridges, MD
Richmond Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Natural looking results after otoplasty is possible

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Yes, my goal for surgery is always to get a natural looking result, with substantial cosmetic improvement.  It is possible to have Otoplasty surgery without pinning the ears aggressively back on the head.  When the ears are pinned back too far, the result looks unnatural and abnormal.  When communicating with your facial plastic surgeon or plastic surgeon, be specific about what exactly you are trying to achieve and your expectations.  In my practice, I charge anywhere from $4,500.00-$6,500.00 for Otoplasty surgery.  This cost depends on the extent of the patient’s case and whether one or both ears require surgery.  I hope this information helps!

Paul L. Leong, MD, FACS
Pittsburgh Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

Otoplasty for subtle improvement

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The amount of improvement in the otoplasty is a topic of discussion to bring up with your otoplasty surgeon.  A small, moderate, or significant improvement can certainly be obtained depending upon the patient’s needs and desires.  It is important to make sure that you are only going to perform this once since it is always harder the second time around due to scar tissue formation.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 157 reviews

Consider Incisionless Otoplasty

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Incisionless Otoplasty is perfect for quickly and easily adding a fold in the upper part of the ear. There is certainly a range of options to reshape the ears - and with what you are seeking to achieve, it probably is not necessary to remove cartilage.  Find a surgeon with experience in incisionless techniques.

Jason Lichtenberger, MD
Bellingham Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Subtle Otoplasty

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Otoplasty procedure can be varied to your individual anatomy and aesthetic.  Discuss with your surgeon about the position and shape of your ears are seeking and how much change you  are seeking.


Many patients are not as specific on how they want the ears to look (i.e. I want Brad Pitt's ears) but  rather know they want the ears closer to the head, look natural.  The degree of these changes is discussed as some patients want the ears tight to the head while others prefer just an overall less prominent ear.

Anil R. Shah, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 179 reviews

Otoplasty done subtly

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This of course possible. You can do very subtle work. Find someone that will listen to you and do what You want and not what the surgeon wants. Folding the ear can be the main concentration and an experienced otoplasty surgeon can do this relatively easily.

Philip Young, MD
Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon

Otoplasty in an Adult

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Although many people refer to this operation an “ear pin-back,” what is really done is to create a normal appearing antihelical fold. When this is done, the helical rim bends back toward the skull. There are several methods of achieving this. Most score the cartilage and just create a normal, rounded fold. I am not a fan of the methods that actually cut the cartilage, since the fold can appear more sharp and unnatural. Though usually done much younger, this is a great operation, even for someone your age, and especially in a male who cannot hide the ears easily.


Robert T. Buchanan, MD
Highlands Plastic Surgeon

Discussing otoplasty options with your surgeon

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Otoplasty can address a number of issues with your auricular cartilage.  I agree that you have a flattened anthelical fold and creation of a more normal contour would be a nice improvement.  How far you set the ears back is a function of both the degree of anthelical fold created and reduction and setback of the conchal bowl.  Discuss what your wishes are with your surgeon, an experienced otoplasty surgeon can certainly obtain the result you are looking for.

Mark Beaty, MD
Atlanta Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 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.