openforbusinessCoronavirus update: We are seeing patients via videoconsultation where it is clinically appropriate to do so to maximise the patient and staff safety. Enhanced hygiene meaures in our rooms include acrylic screens, masks, hand sanitiser, face shields and physical distancing-related changes. We are closed on Fridays. 

Nurse Beth continues to provide ear molding services face to face on Mondays and Tuesdays. Due to limited appointment availability we are only scheduling ear molding appointments for infants aged less than three months.

There are  currently restrictions on performing elective surgery in Victorian hospitals, as private hospitals are accommodating aged care residents as well as providing nursing staff for aged care residences. Due to the significant challenges faced in scheduling emergency and urgent surgery we are currently not accepting referrals for emergency or urgent hospital surgeries. We are taking bookings for all surgeries from 21 September, or as soon as the pandemic situation permits. Please note that all patients who are scheduled for elective surgery admission are required to undertake a COVID test and obtain a negative ("not infected") result prior to admission. 

Victorians are in this together and together we will get through this. Thank you for your understanding as our community works through these unprecedented times together (last updated: 10 August 2020).

Prominent ear correction

Written by Dr Jill Tomlinson on .

mansearProminent ears (sometimes called "bat ears") are a common cause of concern or embarrassment for people who possess them, sometimes to the surprise of their friends and colleagues. Children and adolescents with prominent ears are frequently teased and bullied, and not everyone is able to hide their ears under long hair. These are some of the common reasons people seek otoplasty surgery to "pin back" the ears.

Surgical options

Otoplasty is an operation that is individualised to each person and each ear - no two ears are identical! The surgery is performed as day case surgery in a hospital operating theatre. In adults the surgery can be done purely under local anaesthetic, or with local anaesthetic and sedation, or with general anaesthetic.

As the surgery can be time consuming (up to 90 minutes) many adults elect to be asleep for the surgery. Children and adolescents require a general anaesthetic for the procedure.

The exact nature of the surgery is individualised to your ears and so it varies for each patient. The surgery is performed is through incisions that are placed behind your ears. The ear cartilage is shaped and modified, and stitches are placed in the ear cartilage to hold the reshaped cartilage in a new position. Because the incisions are placed behind your ears scars are generally not visible or troublesome after otoplasty.

In the first week after surgery we recommend that children and adolescents do not attend school. For adults we recommend at least 48 hours away from work and ideally one week off work. During this time it is common to have discomfort which can be minimised by taking simple pain killers. If you are used to sleeping on one side of your head it can be difficult to get comfortable and you may have some difficulty sleeping. There may be restrictions on bathing and swimming until your first dressing change, depending on the exact nature of your surgery and thus the type of dressings applied. It is common to have bruising and swelling of your ears for 2 weeks.

Non surgical options

There are few good non-surgical options for prominent ears. In newborn babies it is possible to mould the ear with headbands, but this has limited application for most individuals. The other non-surgical options are to hide your ears (not easy!) or to accept your ears (which can be easier said than done).

What can go wrong (complications)?

EarThe complications of otoplasty include bleeding, infection, failure to correct the position of your ear (so that it still sticks out), overcorrection of the position of your ear (so that it is pinned back to far), scarring and asymmetrical positioning of your ears (meaning that your ears don't look even when people look at your face and compare one side to the other - but please note that most people do not have completely symmetrical ears).

A haematoma ("hee-mah-toe-ma") is a concern after ear surgery. If it is to occur it will generally happen in the first 24-48 hours. A haematoma means that there is internal bleeding at the site of surgery and the blood collects between the skin and the ear cartilage. If a haematoma occurs you need to see your surgeon urgently because haematomas can result in deformities of the ear ("cauliflower ear"). Your surgeon will discuss with you how to prevent and recognise this problem. You should avoid taking aspirin for one week before otoplasty surgery to reduce the risk of bleeding.

Rarely an ear can lose its new position in the days or weeks after surgery. This happens when one or more of the stitches that are placed to shape the ear cartilage breaks or pulls out. This is why we prefer you to restrict your usual activities immediately after surgery, so that there is no pulling or tugging on your ears, and so that the natural healing process can occur free from unexpected trauma.

When can I get back to exercising?

I recommend taking at least 2 weeks away from vigorous exercising. You can resume walking and simple cycling after 48 hours. In the first 48 hours I recommend avoiding vigorous exercise as any activity that increases the blood flow to your ears can increase the amount of bruising and swelling that you develop.

What are the costs of otoplasty surgery?

Otoplasty surgery has a number of components to the cost, namely:

  • the surgeon's fee
  • the anaesthetist's fee
  • the hospital or day surgery fee
  • the cost of your post surgical appointments for one year

A Medicare and/or private health insurance rebate applies to otoplasty surgery. Dr Tomlinson will discuss this with you at your appointment. To find out what excess (if any) you will need to pay for your hospital admission please contact your health insurance company and quote the Medicare item number 45659. Once you have selected your surgery date we will ask your anaesthetist to provide you with details of their fee.

More information

For more information about otoplasty please contact us to arrange a consultation.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.
Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

Website Disclaimer

This website is authored by Dr Jillian Tomlinson, a fully qualified plastic, reconstructive and hand surgeon who practices in Melbourne, Australia. This website aims to inform patients and health professionals about hand surgery, illness prevention and the practice philosophy of Dr Jill Tomlinson. This website's content is designed to complement, not replace, the relationship between a patient and his/her own doctor. The information is not intended to replace the advice of a health professional. This website does not host or receive funding from advertising or from the display of commercial content.