Otoplasty: How Can I Tell if my Sutures Are Permanent or Dissolvable?

I just took the bandages off my operated ears and am shocked to see how close they are to my head. I see several answers that say the ears will "rebound" usually only if dissolvable sutures are used. I have no idea if mine are permanent or not - all I know is that I have to go and get my stitches taken out next week. I honestly hope that mine will rebound a few mm, otherwise I sincerely regret having done the surgery :(

Doctor Answers 6

Otoplasty Sutures?

Thank you for the question.  The best way to find out what type of sutures were used is to ask your surgeon. Regardless, it is much too early in your recovery to judge the final outcome of your surgery.  I would suggest continued follow-up with your surgeon to communicate questions and concerns.

Best wishes.

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,499 reviews

Initial over-correction with otoplasty is common

Most surgeons use permanent buried sutures in the cartilage during otoplasty surgery. That does not mean, however, that your ears will not rebound a little and not look so pinned back in the long run.  It is not unusual for the ears to look a little over-corrected at first before some of the cartilage 'memory' takes over and there is some release of the tightness.  You can gently assist in this regard by carefully placing folded gauze in the crease behind your ears but you must be careful not to use too much.

James McMahan, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Otoplasty Suture Techniques In Ear Reshaping

Whether your ears rebound back out a little has nothing to do with what type of sutures were used for the cartilage shaping/manipulation done internally. When an otoplasty dressing comes off, the ears will usually look like they are back too far. This is mainly the effect of the compression of the dressing. Between swelling going down and the skin behind the ear relaxing a little bit, the  ears will not likely stay that way and will come out further from the side of the head. It will take six weeks before you should critique them and three months for a final analysis. As an aside, the sutures used to change the shape of the cartilage can be either dissolveable or permanent. That is a surgeon's preference. Most surgeon's prefer permanent as a good resistance to the spring of cartilage is needed long enough to let scar tissue and cartilage deformation create the final result.

Barry L. Eppley, MD, DMD
Indianapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 72 reviews

Otoplasty sutures-Permanent or Dissolvable

The simplest way to determine this answer is to ask your surgeon. I use permanent sutures for the cartilage support and absorbable for the skin. Be patient. Don't look critically at results of any surgical procedure for at least 6-8 weeks. Some relaxing will occur for up to a year. Your bandages were probably pressing your ears to your head and they will relax some now that they are off. Follow up as directed by your surgeon and again, be patient. 

Von Graham, MD
New Orleans Facial Plastic Surgeon
1.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Sutures for Otoplasty Surgery

I too prefer permanent sutures for the cartilage reshaping in otoplasty. They provide more consistent results. Even with the permenent sutures, there is some rebound over time, so it is a little too early to worry. The best advice, as always, is to discuss this with your docotor.


Daniel Medalie, MD

Daniel A. Medalie, MD
Beachwood Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

I prefer permanent, Nylon sutures for ear reshaping in Otoplasty Surgery.

The best way to determine what sutures were used is to ask your surgeon. Permanent sutures like Nylon or Mersilene are typically used. Your ears may relax a bit over the next 6-12 months. Everyone's ears look a bit funny the day after surgery. If you're concerned by your appearance, you should discuss this with your surgeon.

Dr. Joseph

Eric M. Joseph, MD
West Orange Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 421 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.