Complications of otoplasty: a literature review

J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2009 Jan;62(1):19-27. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2008.06.043. Epub 2008 Oct 26.


Over 200 otoplasty techniques have been described in the current literature. However, relatively few articles focus on the associated complication rates. The goal of this review is to examine the incidence of complication rates associated with otoplasty procedures. An electronic search of the Pubmed database yielded 205 articles with significant overlap in search results. Twenty articles published between 2000 and 2007 adhered to our inclusion criteria. Early complications included in this review were haematoma, bleeding, infection, skin necrosis and wound dehiscence; late complications included suture extrusion, scarring, hypersensitivity, asymmetry and inaesthetic results. The cumulative incidence of early complications was low and varied from 0% to 8.4%, with the exception of two outliers. Although cumulative late complication incidences varied greatly from 0% to 47.3%, complication rates on the higher end of the spectrum were not accompanied with revision rates of the same magnitude. Comparison of the different articles was made difficult by the lack of a uniform calculation method for complication incidence, variable follow-up length and data collection, inconsistent use of operation technique and publication bias. Recommendations for future studies include: consistent use of operative technique or at least differentiate between the used surgical techniques when presenting complication rates, inclusion of only patients with bilateral primary procedures, considering each operated ear as an independent variable when calculating complication incidence and a minimum follow-up period of 2 years, with both objective and subjective data collection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ear, External / abnormalities*
  • Ear, External / surgery*
  • Esthetics
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Surgical Wound Dehiscence / etiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / etiology
  • Sutures