Otoplasty, also known as ear pinning, is a plastic surgery procedure that reconstructs and improves the appearance of the ear. Through careful surgical repair and reconstructive mastery, our facial plastic surgeons at The Peer Group in northern New Jersey can repair part or all of an ear damaged in injury or malformed from birth, or simply improve the appearance of the ears that may be too large or protruding. Some of our patients inquire about otoplasty’s effects on hearing. 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.
Cosmetic ear plastic surgery typically serves two functions, achieved through a qualified plastic surgeon’s technical and aesthetic capabilities: setting prominent ears back closer to the head, and reducing the size of large ears. Ear surgery may also be a helpful solution for the following conditions:
- Large or protruding ears
- Lop ear (top of the ear folds downward or inward)
- Cupped ear (a small ear)
- Shell ear (no outer curve in the cartilage)
- Large, stretched, or torn earlobes
- Earlobes with large creases and wrinkles
The Peer Group’s plastic surgeons in northern New Jersey are also able to construct entirely new ears for patients who lost them due to injury or other causes. You can see the results for yourself in photographs of patients taken before and after plastic surgery was performed.
Candidates for Otoplasty
Anyone who feels self-conscious about his or her ears and wants to improve their appearance is a candidate for otoplasty. Although this cosmetic plastic surgery is most often performed on children aged four to fourteen, the procedure can be very beneficial to people of all ages. Ears are almost fully grown by age four, and early ear surgery can prevent a child from being teased in school. It is also important for candidates for this aesthetic plastic surgery to be in good general health and have realistic expectations about the outcome of the procedure. Discuss your goals for otoplasty with your cosmetic surgeon so that you can achieve the results you desire.
The Otoplasty Procedure
Otoplasty generally lasts two to three hours and is performed on an outpatient basis. The type of anesthesia used typically depends on the age of the patient. General anesthesia is recommended for very young patients, while local anesthesia and a sedative may be used for older children and adults.
The otoplasty procedure begins with a small incision made behind the ear, in the natural crease where the ear meets the head. The cartilage is then sculpted and bent into its new position to achieve the desired appearance. In some types of otoplasty, skin is removed but 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, sutures are used to hold the ear in the new position until healing is complete. A bandage is then wrapped 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 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 will be made available to help alleviate any discomfort. A few days after the otoplasty procedure, the bandages around the patient’s head are replaced with a surgical dressing worn for about one week. Stitches are removed within one week of the surgery. Otoplasty patients should avoid sleeping on their affected side for the first two weeks after the procedure. 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.