What Is Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)?

Cosmetic ear surgery, also known as otoplasty surgery or ‘ear pinning’ is a surgical procedure designed to reduce the size of large ears or pin back ears that protruding ears. The majority of patients that have this straightforward treatment are children in need of ear reshaping or attention to protruding ears. It can greatly enhance the appearance and give a renewed sense of confidence with little downtime and discomfort.

Am I a Candidate? The ideal candidate for an otoplasty procedure is someone seeking a surgical procedure with permanent results to improve the appearance of protruding ears. Surgical correction of the ears is one of the few cosmetic operations performed on children. It also tends to be a more common option for males.

Before Surgery – Prior to an ear pinning procedure, you must obtain as much information as is necessary to enable you to make a fully informed decision about the surgery and to ensure you feel comfortable about the operation.

During Surgery – During treatment, the cosmetic surgeon will make an incision behind the ear, then remove the necessary amounts of cartilage and skin required to achieve the right effect. The cartilage will then be pinned back with stitches that remain permanently. The whole procedure takes around 2-3 hours.

Recovery – You should only need 1-2 days of downtime to recover from an otoplasty procedure.  Learn more about the otoplasty recovery.

Benefits – Cosmetic ear surgery or otoplasty can be performed to reshape the ears in many different ways. The most common procedure is to correct ears that stick out by setting them back closer to the head. Cosmetic ear surgery can also reduce large ears, reduce large or stretched earlobes, reshape the cartilage in ears, or increase the size of very small ears.

Risks and Complications – Ears will be sore and tender immediately following an otoplasty or cosmetic ear surgery operation, with some mild bruising and swelling. There may be an odd sensation of tightness of the ears during healing, but this usually disappears after a week or so. Rare side effects of an ear pinning procedure include bleeding underneath the skin, a reaction to the anaesthetic, infection and skin numbness.

Am I a Candidate For Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)?

Because the cartilage in children’s ears is soft it is more pliable and can be more easily reshaped, otoplasty achieves the best results when performed on children between the ages of four (when the ears are fully formed) and 14. Having the surgery done at a young age can also avoid the associated low self-esteem and self-consciousness that can come as a result as being teased at school. Cosmetic ear surgery is also an excellent option for adults who suffer from large, protruding ears or stretched earlobes however.

If you have any of the following concerns then you could be suitable for cosmetic ear surgery:

  • Large or protruding ears
  • Enlarged earlobes
  • ‘Cauliflower ears’
  • ‘Lop ears’ (where the ear tips fold down and jut forward)
  • Deformed or misshapen ears
  • Very small ears

If you are unhappy with the way your ears look then the best way to find out if you are a suitable candidate for cosmetic ear surgery is to book a consultation with a surgeon.

If you suffer from severe ear deformities or your ears have been damaged during an accident or because of playing certain sports then you may need reconstructive ear surgery, which is a more complex procedure than traditional otoplasty, and will require longer preparation and recovery time.