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What is an otoplasty?

A surgical procedure to reshape or reduce the size of ears, or to “pinback” prominent ears closer to the head. Some of the cartilage from the ear is weakened or removed to enable the ear to sit back.

How long will it take?

The operation takes about one to two hours if both ears are done. This time includes the anaesthetic, operation and time spent in the recovery room. Your child will need to stay for one to two hours following the procedure.

When can my child eat and drink again?

If your child is awake on return to the Day Unit, they can have clear fluids immediately. A light diet will be offered when fully awake.

Care at home

Pain relief

Simple pain relief such as paracetamol can be given as per the instructions on the packaging. Other pain relief medication (incuding ibuprofen) can be given only if recommended by their doctor.

Diet and fluids

Your child may continue a regular diet once feeling well.

Nausea and vomiting

It is not uncommon for children to feel nauseated or vomit after surgery. If your child is vomiting, give sips of clear fluid, try a piece of dry toast or a cracker biscuit and increase amounts as tolerated until the vomiting settles. If vomiting continues after 24 hours seek medical advice.

Dressing the operation site

  • Soft dressing and bandages are applied to the ears for five to seven days to promote best moulding and healing.
  • The bandages are not to be disturbed or removed until the post-operative appointment.
  • Keep the dressing dry.
  • Your child should not lie on their sides as this will put increased pressure on the ears and increase pain.
  • Swelling and bruising is normal, especially one to two days after surgery. Sleeping with the head elevated will help to reduce swelling.
  • Your child will be reviewed by Surgeon approximately one week following surgery when the bandages will be replaced by a lighter head dressing similar to a headband.

Points to remember

  • Do not disturb the dressing. Contact the closest hospital that treats children (or as advised) if there is excessive bleeding.
  • Go to the closest hospital that treats children if the dressing comes off or as advised.
  • Encourage your child to sleep with their head elevated.
  • After the dressing is removed your child may need to wear a headband at night for the next four to six weeks to prevent damage to the surgery site and hold the ears in the desired position.
  • Vigorous play or contact sport should be avoided until advised.
  • Your child can return to school after seven days or when advised by your doctor.
  • Take your child to your GP or go to your closest hospital that treats children if there is excessive vomiting, persistent high temperatures or excessive pain not relieved by paracetamol.

Follow up visit

An appointment will be made prior to discharge. Medical or nursing staff will advise if you are to go
back to your doctor. You may be asked to bring your child’s headband with you to the appointment.

Emergency contact

To ensure your child receives the best possible care in an emergency, you should call 000 or go to your nearest Emergency Department.

If you have any concerns or questions please contact your doctor.

Mater Children’s Private Brisbane

Salmon Building,

Raymond Terrace,

South Brisbane QLD 4101

Telephone: 07 3163 8111


Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-470030
Last modified 29/4/2020.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 23/10/2019
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
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