Prominent Ears

Prominent ears result from either excess growth of some of the cartilage of the ear, a relative lack of folding of the ear cartilage or both. This growth can result in ears that appear to “stick out” from the sides of the head to an excessive degree. The incidence of prominent ears has been estimated at up to 5% of the population and has a variable inheritance pattern.

The earliest surgery for prominent ears reported was in 1881, and more than 100 techniques for correction have been reported since then.

Patients can be seen by Texas Children's experts in Plastic and Craniofacial Surgery.

Causes & Risk Factors

There are no known risk factors.

Symptoms & Types

There are many forms of ear abnormalities, with prominent ears. A normal shaped ear that protrudes excessively is the most common by far. Other abnormalities can involve malformation of any part of the ear, and require different approaches for correction.

Diagnosis & Tests

The doctor will perform a physical exam and determine the exact nature of the abnormality and then discuss with the patient and the family the surgical options.

Treatment & Care

Treatment consists of surgery to correct the abnormality. Typically this involves an incision in  the back of ear and permanent sutures placed to correct the protrusion along with any other indicated corrections. This is typically done as an outpatient surgery and can be done any time after 5 years of age.

Living & Managing

Patients go home after surgery with a large, bulky dressing which must remain in place until the patient returns to the clinic (typically in 3 to 4 days).  At that time, the dressing is replaced by a head band to be worn when the patient is home and at night for a full 6 weeks until healing occurs.  Patients should refrain from contact sports during this time.