Otoplasty (Ear Surgery)

Introduction to Otoplasty & Cosmetic Ear Surgery

At our boutique practice in San Jose, otoplasty is a very popular procedure performed by our head plastic surgeon, Dr. Chase Lay. Misshaped or protruding ears can make children the target of schoolyard teasing; for adults, prominent ears can cause self-consciousness. Cosmetic ear surgery (otoplasty) is one of the most common cosmetic plastic surgery procedures and, when performed by a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon such as Dr. Chase Lay, can result in natural-looking ears that don’t draw attention away from your face.

If you live in San Jose, San Francisco, or anywhere in the Bay Area and are considering otoplasty for yourself or your child, please request a consultation online to meet with Dr. Lay, or call our San Jose practice to schedule.

What is Otoplasty?

Otoplasty, also known as ear contouring, is a surgical procedure that helps improve facial symmetry and create a more proportioned balance by performing enhancements to your ear’s structure. Otoplasty procedures require an expert facial plastic surgeon with the requisite experience and strong working knowledge of intricate ear anatomy.

Variations of Ear Contouring Surgery

Ear Pinning

Often considered to be the primary type of Otoplasty, ear pinning is a procedure that draws protruding ears closer to the sides of the face. While it is often performed on children between the ages of five and six, many adults elect this surgery to improve their appearance. The surgery can be performed in a few different ways:

Dr. Lay uses sutures to hold the ear cartilage closer to the head without removing any skin or cartilage from the ear

An incision is made just behind the ear in the natural fold where the ear joins the head. Excess cartilage and skin are removed, and your ear is shaped into a more desirable form. Finally, permanent sutures are used to secure the cartilage so your ear heals in the desired projection.

Ear Keloid

Ear Keloids are firm, rubbery, fibrous nodules that form on your ears after some mild-to-moderate trauma. They can occur in your earlobes typically after ear piercing, or even in the skin and cartilage higher up on the ear, usually from blunt force. Sometimes scars are simply treated with steroid and 5-fluorouracil injections, but most times significant scarring is treated with either surgical correction or using the stem cell content of fat grafting from the abdomen. Sometimes fat grafting for the treatment of scars is performed before any surgical intervention to improve the quality of the collagen and scar tissue beneath.

In many cases, significant hypertrophic scarring and keloids cause symptoms for patients including itching and pain. With larger cases of hypertrophic scarring or keloids on the extremities or chest sometimes staged, or multiple, procedures are required. Every patient has a different problem and different tissue quality requiring a customized approach to their particular issues with scar tissue. Some cases are simple single-stage treatments which are particularly true for scar tissue of the pinna of the ear. However, many other cases require more than one treatment whether it be surgical or non-surgical, so the patient and Dr. Lay work together as a team to help the patient reach their goal and get the best results possible.

Very few scars are 100% removed particularly on the extremities or chest. However, scar tissue around the ear or in the cartilage of the ear can be very treatable with excellent results given the surgery is performed properly and thoroughly. Keloids of the ear appear simple but the scar tissue is often multiple tissue planes including cartilage, subcutaneous tissue, and skin. This requires a facial plastic surgeon with significant experience operating on the face in both cosmetic and reconstructive capacities.

Ear Lobe Repair

This surgery is used to fix an earlobe that has been torn or stretched due to pierced or damaged ears. A standard ear lobe repair procedure consists of the split parts being sealed up using a zig-zag pattern. This technique is a great way to reinforce and prevent the earlobes from splitting in the same location again. Dr. Lay may apply a small wound dressing to help protect against infection.

What are the Benefits of Otoplasty?

For a patient with larger or protruding back ears, there are so many wonderful benefits from Otoplasty in San Jose, including:

  • Can be performed at almost any age
  • Correcting prominent ears
  • Increased self-confidence
  • More natural facial appearance
  • Results are permanent
  • Safe treatment

Who are the Best Candidates for Otoplasty?

Cosmetic ear surgery is a popular choice for young children because the cartilage is still relatively easy for a surgeon to manipulate and reshape. Dr. Lay can perform otoplasty at his San Jose office on children as young as 5 or 6, although children who are small for their age shouldn’t undergo surgery until they grow a bit more.

Young adults often choose to get otoplasty and can have this performed under local anesthesia. Many young professionals have the surgery performed on a Thursday or Friday and often find they can return to work the following week because the incisions and sutures are often hidden. Recovery is typically 7 to 10 days and sutures are removed 7 to 9 days after surgery. Successful otoplasty surgery will result in your ears lying closer to your head, without appearing to be stuck, or unnatural.

You could be a great candidate for Otoplasty in San Jose if you match some of the following characteristics:

  • Can stop taking certain medications (i.e. corticosteroids, NSAIDs, or MAOIs) for at least a few weeks before surgery
  • Have concerns about the appearance of your ears
  • In overall good health
  • Maintain realistic expectations with the results
  • Nonsmoker

What’s the First Step?

If you are looking into an Otoplasty in the San Jose, CA area, the first step you need to take is to schedule your consultation with Dr. Chase Lay. When you come in for your appointment, Dr. Lay will evaluate your ears and answer any questions you have about the surgery and provide his professional insight. He will also ask you questions regarding your medical history so he will have a better understanding of what is required and avoid any unnecessary risks. Once the two of you agree on every step of your procedure, he will create your personalized surgical plan. Our Patient Coordinator will then be able to help your schedule the date and time for your procedure.

What to Expect on the Day of Otoplasty

On the day of your Otoplasty, it will be performed as an outpatient procedure under anesthesia. While this surgery is often performed under local anesthesia, general anesthesia is also available, especially for younger children.

Dr. Lay will begin by making a small incision behind your ear or along the front crease of the ear, depending on the correction required. Through this incision, the cartilage will be reshaped, your ear is repositioned, any excess tissue will be removed, and if needed, the earlobe will be recreated. Finally, the incisions are sutured closed for appropriate healing.

The procedure will take two to three hours to complete.

Otoplasty Recovery

Once you are released from our care, you will be able to return home to recover peacefully. You should have someone available to give you a ride home and possibly help you around the house for the first 24 hours. The recovery from an Otoplasty will take between one and two weeks, during this time you can anticipate possible bruising and swelling that will slowly fade over the next two to three weeks. Mild pain and discomfort may be experienced, but Dr. Lay will prescribe some temporary pain medication to give you a more peaceful recovery. You may also be required to wear a headband or headgear for the first several days. A follow-up appointment with Dr. Lay will be scheduled within five days after your surgery. Patients normally feel and look well enough to return to work or school in seven to ten days.

To get the most optimal results from your recovery, you should avoid any strenuous exercise for the first month, and any heavy lifting for at least the first three weeks. You should also avoid wearing any “pull-over” types of clothing so you don’t accidentally disrupt your ears’ healing process and any hard or excessively chewy foods for the first few weeks. After about a month and a half post-op, you may resume contact sports.

How Much Does Otoplasty Cost in San Jose, CA?

The exact cost of an Otoplasty in San Jose & the Bay Area will depend on the extent of correction and the individual patient, among other various factors. During your consultation, Dr. Lay will go over the procedure and the costs involved. Once your surgical plan is made, our Patient Coordinator can provide you with a complete pricing breakdown.

Why Choose Dr. Lay?

Dr. Chase Lay is a Facial Plastic Surgeon in the Bay Area located in San Jose who encompasses excellent technical skills that have been refined through hard work and experience, as well as being the type of surgeon with whom you feel comfortable sharing your goals and motivations. After earning his medical degree at the University of Texas, Dr. Lay completed his residency in Head and Neck Surgery at Southern Illinois University, where he performed more than 1,500 functional, reconstructive, and cosmetic procedures on the face. His plastic surgery philosophy is to provide improvement in your appearance while maintaining a natural look.

Schedule Your Consultation

Otoplasty can be a very worthwhile procedure that corrects appearance issues that affect one’s self-confidence. If you’re interested in our San Jose otoplasty procedure, please contact us today at (408) 728-8887, or use our website to request an appointment. We look forward to meeting with you, further educating you on the procedure, and providing you with a surgery that will give you more self-confidence. The first step is reaching out!

See Before & After Photos

See actual results Dr. Lay has achieved and get a better sense of the possible outcomes following surgery.


Otoplasty Before & After Photos
Otoplasty Before & After Photos

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Dr. Lay is the only doctor that I trust. I came to him years ago, had a super fast recovery, and still now continue to fly to San Jose every year just to see Dr. Lay. In a world full of indifferent doctors, Dr. Lay stands out from the rest and is both honest and genuinely cares about his patients. He never upsells and only does the most natural work. You can trust your face in his hands!

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A Quote From Dr. Lay on Otoplasty

“Even though most people think ear pinning surgery is primarily performed on children, more adults undergo otoplasty than children.”

Otoplasty FAQs

Is Otoplasty painful?

Otoplasty surgery isn’t painful because it’s performed under general anesthesia. While you may not feel a lot of pain during your recovery, patients have expressed some discomfort due to the bandage that is used to reduce swelling and preserve healing. Dr. Lay can prescribe some temporary pain medication to make the first stage of your recovery more bearable. You will also be provided with some directions that will alleviate any pain or discomfort you may experience.

How many appointments will I need?

You will need to return after a week so Dr. Lay can evaluate your recovery and remove any sutures or bandages. After that first check-up, he will have you return at least a few more times after that, but you can expect anywhere between four and six follow-up appointments, usually at one week, three weeks, six weeks, three months, and six months. You will always be informed of when you should return at the end of each appointment.

How long until I see results?

Depending on the condition of your ears before surgery, you may be able to notice results almost immediately! Your ears will still be settling into place and will most likely still be bruised and swollen, but our patients can begin to see the benefits from their Otoplasty in about six weeks, with the full results revealing themselves after about three months when your ears are fully healed.

Can I combine Otoplasty with other procedures?

Many of our San Jose Otoplasty patients choose to combine their surgery with other facial contouring procedures, such as Chin Implants, Eyelid Surgery, or even Lip Augmentation. If you have an interest in additional procedures, please mention this during your consultation.

What are the risks associated with Otoplasty?

As with any surgery, there are potential risks and side effects. The ones associated with Otoplasty include:

  • Allergies to tape, suture materials, glues, blood products, topical preparations, or injected agents
  • Anesthesia risks
  • Asymmetry
  • Bleeding (hematoma)
  • Blood clots
  • Change in skin sensation
  • Infection
  • Pain, which may persist
  • Poor wound healing
  • Possibility of revisional surgery
  • Skin contour irregularities
  • Skin discoloration/swelling
  • Unfavorable scarring

Dr. Lay and his team consider your health and safety as our top priority. If you experience any long-lasting or concerning reactions during your recovery, please do not hesitate to contact our office.