The normal angle at which ears protrude from the side of the head is about 15o. Ears that stick out at an angle greater than this, or by more than two cm from the back of the head, are considered prominent. Even very prominent ears cause no physical hardship or discomfort but they can be the source of great embarrassment, particularly to children and adolescents.
It is widely accepted that young people with protruding ears suffer real psychological distress due to the ribbing and name-calling they are faced with from their friends and classmates. Children can be very cruel to each other at times and children and adolescents who are naturally shy have great difficulty coping with teasing about their ears.
Ear correction surgery (otoplasty) is carried out by a cosmetic surgeon, most frequently on young people between the ages of four and fourteen, to avoid the pain of being taunted and laughed at by other children. Early surgery at the age of five or six, by which age the ears have reached full size, has the dual benefit that the cartilage is more pliable and easier to reshape, and the ears are corrected before the child starts school.