Ear Pinning (Otoplasty)
What is Ear Pinning?
Ear pinning, also known as ear surgery or otoplasty, is a cosmetic procedure to improve the appearance of a patient’s ears. Although otoplasty does not affect hearing, it can provide great psychological benefits to anyone who has been teased about the size or shape of their ears, has had a serious ear injury, or simply wants to improve their appearance.
Conditions Otoplasty Corrects
Otoplasty typically serves two functions. This includes setting prominent ears back closer to the head and reducing the size of large ears. Additionally, patients who are missing ears from injury or other causes can have new ears constructed. Ear surgery may be helpful for the following conditions:
- Cupped ear or a small ear
- Earlobes with large creases and wrinkles
- Large or protruding ears
- Large, stretched or torn earlobes
- Lop ear where the top of the ear folds downward or inward
- Shell ear where there is no outer curve in the cartilage
Candidates for Ear Surgery
Candidates for otoplasty can be anyone in good health, who feels self-conscious about their ears, and wants to improve their appearance. Although the operation is most often performed on children, this procedure can be very beneficial to people of all ages. Ears are almost fully grown by age four allowing for early surgery. During your consultation, Dr. Hunsaker will discuss your goals with you so that you can achieve the ideal, but realistic results you desire.
Before & After Ear Pinning
The Otoplasty Procedure
An otoplasty generally lasts 1 1/2 to 2 hours and is an outpatient procedure. The type of anesthesia used typically depends on the age of the patient. Dr. Hunsaker recommends general anesthesia for very young patients, while older children can choose a local anesthesia or a sedative.
Dr. Hunsaker will first make a small incision behind the ear, in the natural crease where the ear meets the head. Then, he sculpts the cartilage and bends it into its new position to achieve the desired appearance. In some types of otoplasty, Dr. Hunsaker can remove excess skin. However, in these cases, the cartilage is left in one piece and merely bent back on itself for a smaller-looking ear.
After sculpting the cartilage to the preferred shape, Dr. Hunsaker will place sutures to hold the ear in the new position until healing is complete. Then, we wrap a bandage around the head to ensure the new positioning. To achieve better balance, both ears may be operated on even if only one has a problem.
Ear Surgery Recovery
Patients of all ages usually feel back to normal after a few hours, although the ears may ache or throb for a few days. Prescription medication is available to help alleviate any discomfort.
The stitches will be removed within one week. Otoplasty patients should avoid sleeping on their side for the first two weeks after surgery.
After about one week following otoplasty, children may return to school and adults are often able to return to work and resume normal daily activities. After the ears have healed completely, there will usually be a faint scar on the back of the ears. However, because of the strategic placement of the incisions in ear surgery, the scars should be virtually unnoticeable and will typically fade with time.
Complications of Ear Pinning
As with all surgery, there are complications associated with otoplasty. Complications are rare, usually minor, and can typically be minimized by choosing a qualified and experienced surgeon like Dr. Hunsaker and by carefully following his aftercare instructions. Patients should not expect their ears to match exactly. This is not a complication as natural ears are not identical. Complications can include:
- Blood clots can form but eventually dissolve naturally or can be treated with a needle
- Cartilage infection can occur and form scar tissue