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January 2004

Edward Talbot Ely: Father of Aesthetic Otoplasty

Author Affiliations

1112 N Floyd Rd, Suite 9
Richardson, TX 75080


1112 N Floyd Rd, Suite 9
 Richardson, TX 75080

Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2004;6(1):64. doi:10.1001/archfaci.6.1.64

Edward Talbot Ely (1850-1885) lived a tragically short life of 35 years, but at the age of 31 years, in 1881, he recorded the landmark case of the first otoplasty in the medical literature. He reported with his characteristically humble demeanor his remarkable achievement: "I do not know whether this is a new operation for the deformity in question or not, but, if allowed to judge from a single case, I can highly recommend it."1 Although Becker2 has credited the German surgical legend Dieffenbach as the originator of the otoplasty technique, Rogers' careful review of Dieffenbach's text Die Ohrbuildung: Otoplastik reveals that the author only described repair of traumatic ear deformities and made no mention of aesthetic otoplasty.3-4 It was Jacques Joseph who correctly attributed the first otoplasty to Ely in his classic tome Nasenplastik und Sonstige Gesichtsplastik, and only remarked on Dieffenbach's noteworthy contributions to nasal surgery.