Rib Cartilage Ear Surgery, pioneered by Dr. R.C. Tanzer in 1959, is the most commonly used technique for ear reconstruction. Over the past 20 years, many Microtia surgeons across the globe have contributed to the refinement of this technique, and individual differences within Microtia Rib Cartilage Surgery have emerged.

The procedure involves removing a portion of the patient’s rib cartilage and sculpting it to create the framework for a new ear. The framework is then placed in a pocket under the scalp skin. Depending on the surgeon, 2 to 4 surgeries are required to complete a Rib Cartilage Ear Surgery. This technique is age dependent, as surgery cannot begin until the patient has developed sufficient rib cartilage.  The earliest age to start a Rib Cartilage Surgery is 6 years old. If a child is smaller or has a large ear on the opposite side, it may be delayed until 7 to 9 years of age. Some well-respected cartilage surgeons believe a child must be 10 years old before they have enough cartilage to make a truly symmetric ear.

The basic technique for Rib Cartilage Ear Surgery is shown below in the following presentation of one of Dr. Lewin’s patients:


Due to the technical expertise required to perform Microtia surgery, it is recommended that surgeons using this technique have extensive experience. Results are optimized and complications are minimized if a surgeon performs Microtia surgery on a regular basis.

Before your child has surgery, your potential Microtia repair surgeon should discuss the risks, benefits, alternatives, limitations, and complications with you.

We advise you in the strongest possible way to review before and after pictures of patients before choosing your surgeon. Although problems may occur in any operation, surgeons with inadequate experience with Microtia reconstruction can create traumatic results for the child and the family. All the patients shown below had failed cartilage ear reconstructions that required new reconstruction with Medpor.

Failed Rib Cartilage Ear Surgery

Click here to see Rib Cartilage FAQs


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