Is It Normal to Have Bruising and Throbbing After a Ear Cartilage Harvest Used for Rhinoplasty? (photo)

I had rhinoplasty done 6 days ago and they required cartilage from my right ear. I have yellow and blue bruises forming behind my ear as well as a few little red bumps on the skin. I just want to make sure it is not infected and that it is in fact a normal part of the healing process. I am a bit anxious about it as I had been taking antibiotics to avoid infection but found out I was allergic to it 4 days into taking it and had to stop. Hopefully someone can let me know that this is normal.

Doctor Answers 12

Recovery after ear cartilage harvest

The pictures you have posted look fairly unremarkable, but an in-person exam with your surgeon is best.  Some throbbing, aching and bruising is expected after ear cartilage harvest (it's usually the source of more discomfort than the nose after surgery). 

Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Concern for Infection after Ear Cartilage Harvest in Rhinoplasty

     An ear infection after result of the harvest of cartilage for rhinoplasty is uncommon and pain from ear cartilage harvest can be normal.  However, whenever there is concern for infection of the ear cartilage an exam by your plastic surgeon is merited.

May have donor cartilage infection after rhinoplasty.


I recommend that you see your surgeon right away.  You have symptoms and the ear looks red.  So you might well have an infection.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

You should address your concerns about a possible ear-donor-site infection with your Rhinoplasty Surgeon.

In my experience, mild redness and pain at the site of harvested ear cartilage is common. I prefer to keep my patients on antibiotics until the derssings are removed at 7-8 days post-op. You should schedule a visit with your surgeon to ensure you do not have an infection that might benefit from a different antibiotic.

Hope this is helpful.

Dr. Joseph

Eric M. Joseph, MD
West Orange Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 408 reviews

Ear Cartilage Harvesting & Rhinoplasty

The photos you show do not look too worrisome. However, you should clarify this concern with your surgeon who will be able to give you a more accurate assessment. 

John M. Hilinski, MD
San Diego Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Is It Normal to Have Bruising and Throbbing After a Ear Cartilage Harvest Used for Rhinoplasty? (photo)

Best to see your surgeon immediately to decide if additional antibiotics are needed and better wound care. 

Ear cartilage harvest

Some bruising and swelling is normal after ear cartilage is harvested.  If concerned see you surgeon.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Swelling and Bruising After Ear Cartilage Graft Harvest

What you are experiencing is precisely how a conchal cartilage harvest will look and feel at just one week after surgery. There is nothing to be concerned with. This will resolve in the next few weeks although the ear will remain slightly sore for a month or two longer.

Is It Normal to Have Bruising and Throbbing After a Ear Cartilage Harvest Used for Rhinoplasty?

 You may want to discuss this with your Rhinoplasty Surgeon as you are still under his/her post Rhinoplasty care.  Some minor discomfort is not unusual after conchal cartilage harvest and Rhinoplasty.  The pictures seem to show an anterior incision and a normally healing ear....although I don't allow my patients with this type of surgery to pull their ears forward.

Francis R. Palmer, III, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Ear Cartilage Harvest for Rhinoplasty

The answer to your question is yes.  Often the ear donor site is more uncomfortable than the nose after Rhinoplasty.  Absolutely no red flags.

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 85 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.