Ear Pinning (Otoplasty)
Prominent or large ears can often lead to teasing among children and can make anyone, young or old, feel self-conscious about their appearance.
At The University of Kansas Health System, we offer the latest facial plastic and reconstructive surgical techniques to reposition and reshape the ears (otoplasty) of both children and adults. Our surgeons develop a customized surgical plan for each person to reduce ear projection and modify shape to achieve improved facial harmony.
What is ear pinning surgery?
Otoplasty, or ear surgery, can be performed by a plastic surgeon or facial plastic surgeon. The procedure involves surgically correcting 1 or both ears to restore proportion to your facial appearance. This is achieved by recontouring or repositioning the ear shape according to the dimensions of your surrounding facial features for an improved sense of aesthetic balance. Depending on the nature of your concerns, a number of techniques may be used to achieve your cosmetic goals, including ear pinning or reconstructing the cartilage.
Ear surgery can be performed once the cartilage of the ear reaches at least 75% maturation, which typically occurs around age 4. For children or adults who wish to treat malformation of the ears – including congenital (present since birth) conditions like Stahl’s ear, microtia and anotia – our surgeons also offer reconstructive ear surgery to correct deformities or irregular development of the ear structure.
Who can have ear pinning surgery?
Overly protruding ears can be an issue for children as young as 4 years old and are a problem that may persist through adulthood. The issue can lead to teasing and bullying. Ear pinning surgery, or otoplasty, can be performed to normalize the appearance of the ear. In order to have the procedure, you must have fully developed ears, which occurs by about age 4 to 5. Otoplasty can also be performed in adulthood to correct protruding ears.
How does ear pinning work?
The goal of otoplasty is to symmetrically reposition and/or reshape either 1 or both of the ears to create a less prominent appearance. This procedure can reduce large ears that overpower other facial features and restore a more balanced facial appearance. Repositioning the ears can also reduce ear pain during sleep and sensitivity to sound that can affect individuals with protruding ears.
Benefits and risks of ear pinning surgery
Ear pinning can help you achieve facial symmetry by altering the ears so that they are in better proportion to the rest of your features. The positive change in your appearance can lead to increased confidence and enhanced self-esteem. For those who have otoplasty performed at a young age, such as during childhood or adolescence, it may reduce the potential for teasing and social trauma.
The possible side effects of otoplasty are similar to any surgery, and can be discussed with your plastic surgeon. Risk of ear surgery may include blood clots of the ear, infection and scar tissue formation.
What happens during ear pinning surgery?
The otoplasty procedure takes 2 to 3 hours to perform and is often done using a general anesthesia for children, but a local anesthetic for adults. When beginning, your surgeon will make incisions behind your ears. Through these incisions, your ears’ cartilage will be sculpted, folded or removed and your ears will be folded closer to your head. Sutures will close the incisions and maintain the new shape of your ears.
After surgery, the ears are bandaged in soft dressings for a few days. When these dressings are removed, it is recommended that you wear a special headband at night for several weeks. Most people typically resume their normal daily routine after about 1 week; however, patients are cautioned to avoid strenuous activities for 3-4 weeks following surgery. Discomfort after otoplasty is typically mild and can be managed with medication.
Once you have healed, you'll enjoy more natural-looking ears and improved self-esteem.