What Is Recovery Like After Cosmetic Ear Surgery?

You hate your ears and it is time for a change, but in between you and your new look is surgery and recovery. What is recovery like? Will you need time off from work? How can you maximize your otoplasty recovery experience? This guide will help you prepare for recovery after your otoplasty procedure with Dr. Ali Sajjadian.

In 2018 alone, over 20,000 Americans chose to undergo cosmetic ear surgery, also known as otoplasty. These patients included adults and children. Otoplasty is commonly performed on patients under the age of 18. If you or your child are considering improving the appearance of your ears, it is essential to fully understand the surgical and recovery processes before making your decision.

Parents, in particular, are often concerned about what to expect from otoplasty; especially when it comes to understanding the pain levels and required downtime your child may experience. The good news is that most of Dr. Sajjadian’s patients find the recovery process manageable and the results well worth the effort.

Rest assured, you’re in good hands. Dr. Sajjadian has extensive expertise in this delicate procedure. As one of the few triple board-certified plastic surgeons in California, he is uniquely qualified to ensure your best results. Across the board, our patients report high levels of satisfaction with both their experience and their results. At our Newport Beach offices, we understand that choosing cosmetic ear surgery often comes after a lifetime of anxiety and even embarrassment over the appearance of your ears.

Dr. Sajjadian takes particular care to ensure children and adults alike feel confident in the boardroom, on the playground, or wherever life may take them.

Below, we’ve compiled all the necessary information to understand the ins-and-outs of otoplasty recovery. We will walk you through the process step by step. From the moment the surgery ends through the completion of the recovery process, this guide will help you navigate the healing process.
We’ve also included some tips and tricks to make your recovery as painless and easy as possible.

Read on to learn more, and if you have any questions or would like personalized answers, feel free to call our Newport Beach plastic surgery office at (949)-515-0550.

What Is Otoplasty (Cosmetic Ear Surgery)?

Otoplasty is a cosmetic procedure that improves the appearance of the ear. It is safe and very effective, with life-long results. Otoplasty can address many cosmetic ear concerns including:

  • Prominent ears
  • Ears that stick out
  • Damage from trauma including cauliflower ear
  • Elfin ear
  • Congenital malformations
  • Lop ear
  • Macrotia
  • Microtia

Otoplasty corrects the appearance of the ear from all angles including the front, rear and side perspectives. Our goal is to create an ear that is aesthetically pleasing and that functions properly.

Prominent ears are often associated with psychological trauma, teasing, and anxiety. Patients consistently say that after otoplasty, they feel better about their appearance and have improved self-esteem.


Recovery after otoplasty is broken into several phases. We’ll share some tips for each phase below, but remember, we’re always available if you have questions or concerns. Helping you to have a successful recovery is our job.

Immediately After Surgery

After surgery, one of our nurses will take you from the operating room to a comfortable recovery room at our Newport Beach, CA, offices. Patients can go home the same day as surgery. However, we will monitor you briefly while you fully recover from anesthesia.

Generally, patients spend a few hours with us before they are ready to head home. You will need a friend or family member to pick you up from the surgical facility and drive you home. For the first night, they should stay with you in case you need some help.

Arriving at Home

Once you arrive at home from the surgical facility, we recommend you head to bed and get some much-needed rest. Be sure to elevate your head with two or three pillows. Keeping the head elevated helps to minimize swelling.

We recommend eating something once you have fully recovered from anesthesia. Food helps to alleviate some of the side effects associated with prescription pain medications. Though you may be quite hungry right after surgery, don’t overdo it. Take your time, listen to your body, and don’t push yourself.

Some nausea is common, but if it doesn’t resolve quickly, let us know. A healthy diet and ample rest both aid the healing process and speed up recovery.

Dr. Sajjadian will often prescribe post-surgery antibiotics. If you receive a prescription for antibiotics, it is imperative to finish the full course of medication. To ease postoperative pain, you may receive a prescription for pain medication. When using opiate medications, do not drive.

If other medications are needed, Dr. Sajjadian will let you know and will provide detailed information about how to properly use the medication. Make sure we know about all medications you’re using, including over-the-counter remedies, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

If you have any questions after your surgery or experience any unexpected side effects, let us know.

The First Few Days After Surgery

A compressive bandage is typically placed over the ears after surgery. The bandage holds the ears in the appropriate position for healing, so it is important not to remove your dressing.

Usually, Dr. Sajjadian will check the ears during a follow-up appointment the day after your surgery in our offices. If you experience severe or sharp pains on only one side, please call and let us know.

Unless instructed otherwise by Dr. Sajjadian, your bandages should stay on for one full week. After this period, you will be asked to return to the office and have your sutures removed.

Generally, we will recommend you wear an elastic band—known as an Ear Band-It—at night for the next six weeks. If possible, wearing the band during the day will help ease discomfort and ensure proper healing.

You should avoid facial tanning for the next six months post-surgery. If you need to be in the sun, please wear a 15-SPF or higher sunscreen. Ask Dr. Sajjadian about when you can resume wearing makeup, glasses, and earrings.

We’ll provide detailed information about cleaning and caring for your incisions. This process is simple and doesn’t require much time or effort.

After your bandages have been removed, you may wash your hair and face as usual with gentle soap and shampoo (ideally unscented). If possible, avoid any excessive scrubbing near your ears.

As pool, ocean, and lake water can harbor bacteria, we ask patients to avoid swimming for several weeks. Showering or bathing is fine.

Some numbness, itching, swelling, or discoloration are normal and generally go away on their own.

We provide detailed recovery instructions, carefully developed by Dr. Sajjadian to ensure the best possible recovery. Following Dr. Sajjadian’s instructions is the key to success after your surgery. Attending follow-up visits as planned allows us to best guide you through the healing process and towards your desired results. Plan on several follow up visits throughout your recovery.

Tips to Help Healing

  • Avoid subjecting the surgical incisions to excessive force, sunlight, abrasions, or vigorous motion while they heal. This is especially important to keep in mind for young children, who should avoid play or overexertion until the ears are healed.
  • Keep the head cool throughout the recovery period, especially if bandages are being worn – avoid any areas of extreme heat as well as using hot blow dryers.
  • Itching near or at the incision lines is very common. Usually, this is a sign of healing and that the nerves are regenerating. Do you best to avoid scratching the incisions. This prevents unnecessary damage or increased scarring.
  • If any discharge, redness, or heat accompany itchiness, please contact us—as this may be the signs of a treatable infection.
    Don’t wash your hair with shampoo for up to one-week post-surgery.
  • Keep your head elevated as much as possible, especially when sleeping. As mentioned above, one or two pillows to prop up your head is usually sufficient. When awake, try not to bend over as this can increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Some swelling is normal and usually lasts for one to two months. Residual swelling may last up to six months. Don’t stress about this, and if you have any concerns, call our Newport Beach office.
  • Avoid sleeping on your side throughout recovery.
  • Take your prescribed medication as directed.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment as directed by Dr. Sajjadian to the incision area; this helps scars heal.
  • Have patience and allow yourself the necessary time to rest while you recover.
  • Have realistic expectations and understand that results take time to show, and the appearance of your ears will change gradually.
  • Discharge coming out of your ear is normal, especially during the first week after surgery. A small amount of fluid drainage from the ears is common. This discharge may be dark, thick, or tinged red. If this happens, use a Q-tip or cotton swab soaked in hydrogen peroxide to clean the outer part of the ear. Do not clean the inner ear canal. If the fluid is excessive, contact us.
  • Avoid sun exposure and extreme temperatures for a month or two. Your ears will be numb for the first few weeks. As such, you may not feel the damage of extreme temperatures. If you choose to use ice packs, do so intermittently throughout the day, usually for no more than 20 minutes at a time.


Contact Dr. Sajjadian as soon as possible if you experience any complications. Contact us immediately if you have:

  • A fever higher than 101.5 degrees F, which persists despite increasing fluid intake and acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  • Sharp or severe pain on one side of your head.
  • Increased redness or swelling over time.
  • Your dressing shifting significantly or falling off.
  • Changes in ear shape after removing bandaging.

Ear Surgery FAQ

What Is the Recovery Timeline?

Recovery timelines for ear surgery vary from patient to patient. Here are some common milestones:

  • Return home the same day as your surgery
  • For the first one or two days, there will be some aching and throbbing
  • After several days bandages will be removed, and adults can return to work. Stitches will be removed or may be self-dissolving.
  • After approximately one week, patients can resume normal activities, and children can return to school.
  • For several weeks an ear-supporting headband should be worn
  • Full otoplasty recovery takes approximately six weeks.

What Are the Risks of Ear Surgery?

Dr. Sajjadian will perform your otoplasty with utmost dedication to your safety, and care to ensure you obtain the optimal results. We’ll talk more about any specific risks you may experience during your consultation. Dr. Sajjadian is highly experienced at otoplasty, and his patients report excellent outcomes and high levels of satisfaction with their results.

Schedule a Consultation at Our Newport Beach, CA Office Today

Otoplasty is a popular, safe, and clinically proven option to correct and improve the appearance of the ears. Dr. Sajjadian is an experienced plastic surgeon who can help you if you’re concerned about the appearance of your ears. Whether you are a parent of a child who is being bullied or someone who has been struggling with anxiety over your ears for your entire life, let us help you find freedom from prominent ears.

If you are ready to take the next step or have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to call our Newport Beach, CA offices at (949)-515-0550 or Dr. Sajjadian directly online here. We look forward to creating a treatment plan together and helping you feel confident with your appearance.