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Otoplasty is a safe and effective method for addressing large or protruding ears. However, like all surgical procedures, there are complications which can occur, such as hematoma, infection, abnormal contours, over-correction, under-correction and exposed sutures. Dr. Charles Thorne takes great care to reduce otoplasty risks and meet your aesthetic expectations. At his New York, NY, practice, Dr. Thorne uses advanced techniques to minimize the chance of serious complications.

Dr. Thorne otoplasty surgeon

Dr. Thorne has been performing otoplasty since 1989.

Potential Complications

Since Dr. Thorne has been performing, teaching, and writing about otoplasty for 30 years, he has developed procedures that almost completely eliminate the risk of severe complications. Dr. Thorne has chosen his procedure to eliminate the complications that are difficult or impossible to treat, such as over-correction or unnatural contours. The complications that Dr. Thorne’s technique has not totally eliminated are under-correction and protruding sutures.

Infection

Dr. Thorne has never seen an infection occur with a patient after an otoplasty. This does not mean it is impossible but it must be extremely rare.

Hematoma

On very rare occasions, a patient may develop a collection of blood in one ear known as a hematoma. This requires drainage but amounts to nothing more than an inconvenience.

Over-correction

One of the most difficult complications to treat is over-correction, when the ear has been pulled too close to the head. This frequently requires using cartilage grafts to help unbend the cartilage and return the ear toward a more natural position. Dr. Thorne has treated many cases of over-correction but has not created one himself in his entire career.

Under-correction

Approximately a half dozen times in Dr. Thorne’s career he has had patients who felt the ears were under-corrected and who desired slightly more setback. While rare, this complication is much easier to treat than over-correction and can be performed in the office under local anesthesia.

Protruding sutures

Dr. Thorne uses permanent sutures behind the ear. Occasionally over the life of the patient these sutures can poke out and become visible. If this occurs, the sutures are easily removed.

Gradual Reversal of Treatment

Ears consist mainly of cartilage, a tissue which has a large amount of natural elasticity. Over the years, the ears could begin to return to their original position. In most cases, Dr. Thorne takes this into consideration during planning and surgery, allowing ears to shift slightly over time, while maintaining your results. However, he also offers otoplasty revision for patients who want to address issues of reversal.

Modern Techniques for Reduced Risk

In the past, otoplasty techniques involved removing cartilage and making full-thickness incisions in the cartilage. These older techniques resulted in sharp edges and had a higher risk for permanent deformities. Dr. Thorne has been performing otoplasty since 1989. Over the years, he has cultivated his skills and chosen the techniques which carry the lowest risks for severe complications. The only complications associated with his chosen methods are under-correction and suture exposure, both of which are highly treatable.

Learn More about Otoplasty

Choosing an experienced surgeon is crucial to ensuring you achieve the results you desire. If you are interested in addressing large or protruding ears, Dr. Thorne can provide a low-risk, highly effective otoplasty procedure. For more information, send our office a message or call (212) 794-0044 today.

older person ear

As we age, many aspects of our appearance change, including the size and shape of our ears. Changes in skin elasticity and loss of tissue can cause earlobes to deflate and become longer. For many older individuals, this combination results in ears that appear too large. Dr. Charles Thorne provides both surgical and non-surgical ear rejuvenation treatments to restore a more youthful appearance. Depending on your needs and goals, your treatment may involve fillers, fat transfer, earlobe shortening, or lobe repair. In addition, patients who have had a previous facelift may have unsightly scars around their ears or an unusual lobe attachment, also known as pixie ears. These concerns may require a re-do facelift. Dr. Thorne is a specialist in ear surgery and facelift surgery and can provide a wide variety of treatments at his office in New York, NY.

Why Consider Ear Rejuvenation?

Many patients over the age of 40 begin to notice sagging around many parts of their body and the ears are no exception. Gravity, loss of volume, and sun damage can cause lobes to sag. Piercing holes can become stretched and elongated. Wearing heavy earrings regularly or sleeping with earrings in can further contribute to this problem. In some cases, lobes can even appear wrinkled or deflated.

With ear rejuvenation, patients can enjoy:

  • Plumper, smaller, and more rounded lobes
  • Earrings that sit straighter and higher in the ear
  • A softer ear hole crease
  • An overall more youthful ear
  • Improvement in scars from a previous facelift

Dr. Thorne can also fix a range of other complications from earrings, including torn lobes or cartilage, to restore the appearance of your ears.

Your Treatment Options

As a specialist in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the ear, Dr. Thorne can provide a wide range of surgical and non-surgical ear rejuvenation options. In general, there is no major difference between the recovery time or cost between the surgical and non-surgical options.

The best way to determine the right option is to schedule an appointment at our practice. Dr. Thorne can discuss your goals, preferences, and budget with you to determine the best treatment plan.

Ear rejuvenation can help fight signs of aging and restore the youthful balance of your face.

Fat Transfer

Some patients prefer to replace lost volume with their own fatty tissue rather than using synthetic fillers. With this option, fat is first harvested from another area of your body, such as the abdomen or upper thighs, and then purified in a centrifuge to isolate the best tissue.

Then, Dr. Thorne can inject the fat into your lobes to restore a rounder, more youthful appearance. The benefit of fat transfer is that the results last longer.

Earlobe Shortening

Dr. Thorne can also perform earlobe shortening. This procedure is short, requiring only about 20 minutes per ear. Most patients only require local anesthesia and the healing time is about seven days.

During this treatment, Dr. Thorne can remove excess skin and restore the correct length and shape of your lobes. While most patients choose to undergo earlobe shortening as a solo procedure, it can also be done at the same time as a facelift or otoplasty.

Dermal Fillers

A popular non-invasive option for deflated or elongated earlobes is treatment with a dermal filler. The filler is injected into the lobe with a fine needle, adding volume to minimize wrinkles and creases. This treatment is virtually painless.

However, it is also temporary. Most dermal fillers last between six and 12 months. Dr. Thorne only uses fillers made from hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring substance which encourages collagen production.

Make Minor Revisions for a More Youthful Look

Ear rejuvenation can help fight signs of aging and restore the youthful balance of your face. For more information about ear rejuvenation or the other treatments Dr. Thorne offers, contact our office online or call (212) 794-0044.

With years of experience performing otoplasty, Dr. Charles Thorne is an expert in safe, effective ear surgery. His commitment to continuing education allows him to stay at the forefront of surgical techniques. At his plastic surgery practice in New York, NY, Dr. Thorne utilizes advanced otoplasty techniques in which the only side effects are minor and treatable. His choice in technique is determined by the areas of the ear you wish to treat and the type of issue that needs correction.

Techniques Tailored to Your Needs

In most cases, the techniques Dr. Thorne uses are divided into how they affect the appearance of the different areas of the ear. The ear is divided into three parts: the upper third, middle third, and earlobe region. Some patients require work only on one section, while others must address issues with all three areas.

A woman pushes her ear forward with her finger

The issues you need to address with otoplasty will determine which surgical technique Dr. Thorne will employ.

Upper Third

The most common concern affecting the upper third is prominent ears. This is a condition in which the helix, or top of the ear, protrudes dramatically from the side of the head, making the ears stand out more than desired. In most cases, Dr. Thorne can treat this concern using sutures placed behind the ear. Essentially, he can fold the ear back to create an anti-helix for a more desirable position.

In some cases, there is a natural modification at the very top of the ear. The angle formed by the side of the head and the ear is abnormally large, meaning folding the ear back will not correct the problem. When this is the case, Dr. Thorne can place additional sutures to adjust the angle for a more natural-looking result.

Middle Third

When the middle third of the ear requires a correction, Dr. Thorne typically needs to remove a crescent of cartilage from the concha in the inner part of the ear. The cartilage is removed from an incision in the posterior of the ear. Then Dr. Thorne can place sutures to bring the middle section of the ear closer to the head. If performed correctly, this change is undetectable.

Recent advancements in otoplasty techniques have removed many of the concerns of the past.

Earlobe Region

Alterations to this section of the ear may include earlobe shortening or correcting distortion due to a facelift. When performing otoplasty on the lower third of the ear, Dr. Thorne takes special care. This area is difficult to correct because there is no cartilage. If all the skin is removed during the surgery, the earlobe looks abnormal and there is no way to wear an earring.

To preserve the natural appearance of the earlobe, Dr. Thorne uses dissolvable sutures to pull the lobe back while still maintaining the depth of the sulcus, the natural indentation behind the ear. In so doing, he can preserve the function and natural appearance of the earlobe.

Safe, Modern Techniques

Recent advancements in otoplasty  techniques have removed many of the concerns of the past. Older techniques involved removing substantial amounts of cartilage and making full incisions around the ear. Often, these methods would result in permanent deformities. Dr. Thorne chooses otoplasty techniques where the only complications are undercorrection or protrusion of the sutures through the skin behind the ear. In this way, he protects the health of his patients and prevents serious complications from affecting the appearance of your ears.

Schedule an Appointment

When considering a otoplasty, it is important to find a surgeon with the experience and advanced training to perform your surgery properly. For more information about otoplasty, call our office at (212) 794-0044 or contact us online today. You can also consult our otoplasty FAQs to learn more.

In children with large, prominent ears, Dr. Charles Thorne can create a natural-looking appearance by performing an otoplasty, or ear reshaping surgery. At our practice in New York, NY, Dr. Thorne can perform an ear pinning procedure to pull the ears closer to the head for a more aesthetically pleasing result. In general, Dr. Thorne recommends ear surgery for kids no earlier than age four. By this age, most children have reached at least 80 percent of their adult ear size and have a good indication of how their ears will look in adulthood. Dr. Thorne is an expert in the field of otoplasty and has experience performing a variety of types of ear surgery on children.

A young boy with protruding ears

Dr. Thorne can perform ear surgery for kids after they have reached the age of four.

Is My Child a Candidate for Ear Surgery?

In general, children can undergo otoplasty  once they reach age four. At this point, the cartilage is firm enough to support the placement of sutures. Performing ear surgery at a young age is beneficial because the cartilage is more pliable, making it easier to obtain the desired results. Ear surgery is not recommended for children who wrestle or participate in another similarly violent sport.

This procedure can correct issues, such as:

  • Protruding ears
  • Overly large ears
  • Asymmetrical ears
  • Deformities due to injury or birth defect

While Dr. Thorne can perform the surgery on four-year-olds, many parents prefer to wait until their child can voice their own opinion about undergoing otoplasty, typically around the age of seven. In some rare cases, Dr. Thorne can perform otoplasty on patients as young as two. However, the cartilage is especially delicate at this age and can tear, causing more substantial problems.

Benefits of Otoplasty

Performing ear pinning surgery on young patients often provides significant psychological benefits. Children with large ears may feel self-conscious. They may be teased at school by their peers. Parents sometimes notice children covering their ears with their hair, hoping to prevent people from seeing them. Otoplasty is a safe and effective way to improve your child’s self-confidence if abnormal ear shape or size is the problem.

The Otoplasty Procedure

During ear surgery, Dr. Thorne makes a small incision in a hidden area of the ear, such as under the rim or deep behind the ear. The careful placement of the incision minimizes the possibility of scarring being visible. Then, he gently repositions or reshapes the ear before closing the incision with sutures.

With careful positioning techniques, Dr. Thorne can help ensure your child’s ears look natural and aesthetically pleasing.

With children, Dr. Thorne is careful not to overcorrect their ears. As we age, our cartilage hardens, which can make ear pinning more difficult in adults. For an adult patient with stiff cartilage, Dr. Thorne will pull the ears further back, expecting the sutures to move slightly during the healing process. In contrast, young children have very soft cartilage, meaning an overcorrection can cause the ear to look strange after it heals. With careful positioning techniques, Dr. Thorne can help ensure your child’s ears look natural and aesthetically pleasing.

During Your Child’s Recovery

Most patients are able to return to their normal lives within two to three weeks. Dr. Thorne recommends children wait at least three weeks before playing any contact sport.

Complications are extremely rare for otoplasty patients. However, if you notice one of your child’s ears is more swollen, painful, or bruised than the other, contact Dr. Thorne as this may be a sign of a hematoma. You can also contact the doctor if there is ever something that bothers you about your child’s recovery process.

Reach Out Today

Otoplasty for children is a delicate procedure and should be handled by someone with a high level of experience and training. Dr. Thorne is an expert in ear surgery. For more information about this treatment, you can read our frequently asked questions or contact our office online or by phone at (212) 794-0044 today.

When preparing for ear surgery, it is important to follow all pre-operative instructions as they can help speed your recovery. Before your surgical appointment, Dr. Charles Thorne will discuss your treatment with you and provide a detailed list of pre- and post-operative directions, including what you will need to do on the day of your surgery and what medications you will need to avoid. Most of our otoplasty surgeries are performed as outpatient procedures at our office in New York, NY. You will need to make arrangements for someone to drive you to and from surgery.

Planning Your Treatment

One of the most important stages of preparing for your otoplasty is treatment planning. During your initial consultation, Dr. Thorne will review your medical history. He will likely ask you questions about current and past medical conditions. You should disclose all medications you are currently taking or have taken recently.

Dr. Thorne will also examine your ears—position, size, shape, and symmetry—to determine the treatment best suited for your needs. He will likely ask you to explain why you want otoplasty and what you are hoping to achieve to ensure you have realistic expectations for treatment. We may also take pictures of your ears for our records.

The Weeks Before

There are certain steps you can take in the weeks leading up to your surgery to facilitate a smooth recovery. Smoking and tobacco use decreases blood flow and lowers the body’s ability to heal. If you are a smoker, Dr. Thorne will likely recommend you stop using tobacco products before surgery and during recovery.

An aspirin bottle, a box of cigarettes, and an herbal supplement

Taking certain medications, as well as using tobacco products and certain herbal supplements, will need to be ceased in the weeks prior to your otoplasty.

You should also avoid medications that increase bleeding, such as aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and certain vitamins and herbal supplements. Dr. Thorne can recommend alternatives to any necessary medications to ensure you remain healthy as you prepare for your otoplasty procedure.

Preparing properly for surgery can prevent complications and help ensure you enjoy a smooth recovery.

Depending on the extent of your procedure, you may need to arrange for assistance during recovery. Most patients need a ride home from surgery and require someone to stay with them for the first night. You may need to arrange for help for a longer period of time as well.

The Day of Surgery

Dr. Thorne or a member of our team will provide you with detailed instructions about the day of your surgery, including what to wear and what time to arrive. We will also tell you where your surgery will be. While most of our procedures are performed in our office, some treatment is provided at the Lenox Hill Hospital across the street from the practice.

Contact Us Today

Preparing properly for surgery can prevent complications and help ensure you enjoy a smooth recovery. If you are interested in learning more about ear surgery, Dr. Thorne can sit down with you and discuss the benefits of the procedure. He can also assess your candidacy. For more information or to schedule an initial consultation at our office, contact us online or call (212) 794-0044 today.

In The Media


Dr. Thorne is consistently highlighted in every publication profiling the Best Doctors in Manhattan or the Best Doctors in the entire United States. He has been featured in the New York Times multiple years running, as well as America's Top Doctors, and has hosted a radio show on plastic surgery alongside dermatologist Dr. Linda Franks.


  • New York Best Doctors 2019
  • New York Best Doctors 2017
  • New York Best Doctors 2014
  • New York Best Doctors 2008


  • New York Best Doctors 2005
  • Americas Top Doctors 2002
  • Castle Connolly 10th
  • Castle Connolly 6th

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