Do I have Stahl's ear? Is the surgery to correct it very risky or invasive? (Photos)

I saw a photo on here that reminded me of my own ears. I looked up some pictures and I realized the extra cartilage might be why my ears don't curl at the top. I have always been self-conscious about my "elf ears". Is the surgery to correct it very risky or invasive? Once my ears heal entirely, would I be able to get piercings in that area?

Doctor Answers 4

Yes you do have Stahl's ear

and if you want it corrected to a more rounded rim, it can be done.  Piercings can always be done as well but piercing cartilage is much more risky than simply piercing your lobes.  If you don't have to wear your hair up, it would be suggested that you not worry about as much as it makes you more unique and special.

Redding Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Unusual variant

Thanks for your question. It is not a classical stahls ear but it is anvariant of it. Stahls is classically defined by an atypical upper crus or upper half of the Y shape on the upper ear. yours rather than being a 'y' is more of a reverse 'V'This obviously gives you a more prominent upper pole and a slightly pixie shape. Some cartilage reshaping can change the shape of the ear to more usual 'Y' pattern but the more reshaping is done, the more invasive the surgery can be. Post surgery piercing will depending on what reshaping is done. A local plastic surgeon to you will happily give you a description of what is possible. Hope that helps. Adam Goodwin

Stahl's ear

You are absolutely right! This is a near perfect example of the Stahl's ear which is classified as a flat upper pole helix with an associated "third crus" of cartilage extending out towards the helix. When identified at birth the treatment is molding for several weeks but obviously management would be quite different for you at this point. Surgery would consist of an Otoplasty, but would need to be customized to address the specific cosmetic factors that bother you. It is not necessarily any more invasive than the standard Otoplasty but make sure to ask very specific questions about what you can expect. Once healed, piercing would carry no greater risk than piercing other ear cartilages. Best of luck!

Justin Cohen, MD
Washington DC Otolaryngologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Do I have Stahl's ear? Is the surgery to correct it very risky or invasive?

Yes you do have Stahl's earYes you do have Stahl`s ear. There are 2 ways in which the Stahl’s ear can be corrected. Either surgically and invasive by excision, which leaves a visible scar in the ear, or minimally invasively, without producing scars, with the Merck stitch method. With the stitch method there is a chance, but there is no guarantee of correcting/removing the Stahl’s fold.  

Waldemar Merck, MD
Germany Plastic Surgeon

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.