Otoplasty: What You Need to Know About Ear Pinning

Everyone has a feature that makes them feel a bit self-conscious. But when that feature is as prominent as your ears, it can really take a toll on your self-esteem. If you’re uncomfortable with the shape, positioning or protrusion of your ears, the solution may be much less complicated than you think.

Otoplasty, more commonly referred to as “ear pinning,” is a cosmetic procedure used to correct ears that stick out too far, or are shaped or positioned abnormally. It can have a significant impact and involves very little risk. In fact, it can be performed on children as young as 5 years old.

Benefits of Otoplasty

In addition to feeling better about your appearance, otoplasty offers other amazing benefits. It:

  • Can provide dramatic results with no visible scarring.
  • Has a short recovery period — usually two weeks or less.
  • Is one of the safest facial surgical procedures.

What to Expect During an Ear Pinning Procedure

Choosing a skilled and experienced cosmetic surgeon is imperative. Otoplasty is a surgery that requires extreme attention to detail. After all, there’s an exact duplicate immediately available for comparison on the other side of your head. It’s impossible to recreate the exact same measurements from one side to the next, but most surgeons will take careful measurements throughout the procedure and only complete the closure when the measurements of your ears are within 1 to 2 mm of each other. Go into your surgery feeling confident in your surgical team.

Pain Management During Surgery

Adults may be able to have the procedure with local anesthesia. That means you may only require numbing of the specific area without any type of sedation. But since that method leaves you awake for the procedure — and many people are anxious about that — medication is sometimes given to also further calm you.

Children usually need a general anesthetic to make them sleep during the procedure.

How Ear Pinning Is Performed

The procedure itself involves making an incision in the crease behind your ear — allowing the incision to be completely hidden. Your surgeon will then decide where to place sutures to allow folding of the cartilage in specific locations, and to address any cartilage that may need to be weakened or even cut to achieve your desired results. Every case is different and your surgeon’s next steps will depend on your unique needs. If there is:

  • Too much depth to the bowl of your ear and the whole ear protrudes from the scalp, sutures will be placed to pull the bowl back towards your scalp in several specific locations.
  • Underdevelopment of the crease at the top of your ear, the surgeon will plan for the crease in a specific location and place a series of precise sutures to create the ideal fold.
  • A combination of both of the above issues, you may require a combination of both procedures.

Recovering from Otoplasty

The primary goal during your recovery period is to support your ears so the cartilage can strengthen. Most surgeons will place a pressure-type dressing over your ears for 24 to 48 hours and then evaluate you. If everything is going well, they’ll place a smaller dressing that you’ll wear for a week and they’ll remove any sutures at that point. They may also instruct you to wear the softer dressing at night for an additional week.

The natural folds and swelling should resolve over one to two weeks. While you can return to work within a week or two, you should avoid strenuous activity for at least two weeks. And, to prevent injury to the cartilage, you should not participate in contact sports for two to three months.

Emory Aesthetic Center

Emory Aesthetic Center has highly qualified cosmetic surgeons experienced in otoplasty. If you’re interested in an ear pinning procedure, schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our expert cosmetic surgeons today.

About Anita Sethna, MD, FACS

Anita Sethna, MD, FACS, is double board-certified in Head and Neck Surgery and Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery since 2010. She is also an Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at Emory University School of Medicine where she has taught since 2011. Dr. Sethna is the recipient of the AOA Research Award, and she is an accomplished expert in her primary areas of interest: rhinoplasty and injectables.



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