Prominent ears in children younger than 4 years of age: what is the appropriate timing for otoplasty?

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2004 Oct;114(5):1042-54. doi: 10.1097/01.prs.0000135334.13796.9d.


The present study was conducted to determine whether otoplasty performed in children younger than 4 years of age has an acceptable long-term outcome. This two-part study consisted of (1) a questionnaire mailed to 481 members of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons to ask their opinion on the timing of otoplasty, and (2) a consecutive series of 12 patients who had otoplasty performed before the age of 4 years. The survey demonstrated that the majority (57 percent) of the respondents perform otoplasty on patients who are aged 5 years or older. The prospective series consisted of 12 patients ranging in age from 9 months to 3 years at the time of the procedure. Otoplasty was bilateral in nine patients and unilateral in three patients. Length of follow-up ranged from 21 months to 7(1/2) years, with a median follow-up of 41 months. Growth following otoplasty was evaluated in three patients who underwent unilateral otoplasty by measuring the length of both ears at the time of final follow-up. No difference in ear length was noted between the sides that were and were not operated on during a follow-up period of 46 to 63 months. Noticeable recurrence was noted in only one (8 percent) of 12 patients. In response to a follow-up questionnaire to the patients' families, all respondents (n = 10) stated that if again asked to choose the timing of otoplasty in their children, they would opt to have it performed at the same age of younger than 4 years. Otoplasty can be safely performed at ages younger than previously thought without interfering with growth of the operated ear.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ear, External / growth & development
  • Ear, External / pathology*
  • Ear, External / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures*
  • Recurrence
  • Reoperation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors