Otoplasty is cosmetic surgery used to correct the form and shape of the ear. This can be required or recommended for patients who have a defective, deformed, or completely missing external ear. Ear issues can be present due to trauma as well as genetics. A surgeon makes corrections by creating a more proportionate, contoured, visually attractive external ear.

Ear correction surgery is cosmetic surgery to alter the size or shape of the ears, or pin them back if they stick out. Generally, ear correction surgery is safe and most people are happy with the results. However there are risks to consider, and it may be expensive. Pinning back the ears is known as an otoplasty or pinnaplasty. It’s usually done on children and young teenagers, although adults can also have it done.


While ear pinning is a great solution for many people, it is important to consider the pros and cons of the procedure to get a better idea of whether or not it is right for you. Consider the following:

Having ear pinning surgery doesn’t necessarily mean your overall appearance will be altered – you may not even notice a difference after completion

Both ears are altered to maintain balance across the facial profile, even if it is only one ear that you feel is needing to be pinned

Ear pinning can be a successful way to decrease your insecurity or lack of self-confidence around your ears and overall body appearance.

For most people the procedure is non-invasive, with minimal recovery time and does not end up producing a huge disruption to everyday life.  You may experience some pain and discomfort after the surgery, but this can typically be alleviated with traditional pain medications.

As part of your guide to ear pinning, it is important for you to have a good understanding of what you can expect from the surgery, both during and after the procedure, as well as some associated risks.  You can expect the surgery to last about an hour, depending on the amount of work you are having done, and it is generally an outpatient procedure, meaning you can go home the same day. Patients are placed under general anesthesia however, so this is something to consider when you are planning for your procedure and for the time afterwards.

After the surgery, it is important to follow any of Dr. Vigo’s suggestions, such as wearing a headband for a certain number of hours each day to help train the ears in their new position. Likewise, it is important to know that you will need to sleep on your back for up to two weeks after the surgery and you can expect swelling and bruising to appear and disappear within a few days of surgery.  Because nerve endings are cut, and nerves will need to be regenerated, you may experience itching or tingling. Aside from a few lingering minor discomforts, you can expect to be back to normal activities within three weeks.

Remember however, that, like any surgery, the procedure is not without its risks. In particular for Otoplasty, patients can be left with numbness or sensitivity in the ear area, or the ears can return to their original position if the sutures get broken.

1. Why should I be considering ear surgery?

Ear surgery, or otoplasty, is usually done to set prominent ears back closer to the head or to reduce the size of large ears.

For the most part, the operation is done on children between the ages of four and fourteen. Ears are almost fully grown by age four, and the earlier the surgery, the less teasing and ridicule the child will have to endure.

Ear surgery on adults is also possible, and there are generally no additional risks associated with ear surgery on an older patient.

2. Are there any risks?

All surgery carries some uncertainty and risk. When ear surgery is performed by our qualified and experienced surgeon, complications are infrequent and usually minor. Nevertheless, as with any operation, there are risks associated with surgery and specific complications associated with this procedure. A small percentage of patients may develop a blood clot on the ear. It may dissolve naturally or can be drawn out with a needle. Occasionally, patients develop an infection in the cartilage, which can cause scar tissue to form. Such infections are usually treated with antibiotics; rarely, surgery may be required to drain the infected area.

3. What should I consider when planning for my surgery?

Most surgeons recommend that parents stay alert to their child’s feelings about protruding ears, do not insist on the surgery until your child wants the change. Children who feel uncomfortable about their ears and want the surgery are generally more co-operative during the process and happier with the outcome.

In the initial meeting, your surgeon will evaluate your child’s condition, or yours if you are considering surgery for yourself, and recommend the most effective technique. Your surgeon will also give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery.

4. What types of anaesthesia will be used?

If your child is young, your surgeon may recommend general anaesthesia, so the child will sleep through the operation. For older children or adults, your surgeon may prefer to use local anaesthesia, combined with a sedative, so you or your child will be awake but relaxed

5. What happens in the ears pinned back surgery?

Ear surgery usually takes about two to three hours, although complicated procedures may take longer. The technique will depend on the problem.

With one of the more common techniques, your surgeon makes a small incision in the back of the ear to expose the ear cartilage. He will then sculpt the cartilage and bend it back toward the head. Non-removable stitches may be used to help maintain the new shape. Occasionally, your surgeon will remove a larger piece of cartilage to provide a more natural-looking fold when the surgery is complete. Another technique involves a similar incision in the back of the ear. Skin is removed and stitches are used to fold the cartilage back on itself to reshape the ear without removing cartilage. In most cases, ear surgery will leave a faint scar in the back of the ear that will fade with time.

Even when only one ear appears to protrude, surgery is usually performed on both ears for a better balance.

6. How long before I get back to feeling normal?

Adults and children are usually up and around within a few hours of surgery, although you may prefer to stay overnight in the hospital with a child until all the effects of general anaesthesia wear off. The patient’s head will be wrapped in a bulky bandage immediately following surgery to promote the best molding and healing. The ears may throb or ache a little for a few days, but this can be relieved by medication. Within a few days, the bulky bandages will be replaced by a lighter head dressing similar to a headband. Be sure to follow your surgeon’s directions for wearing this dressing, especially at night. Stitches are usually removed, or will dissolve, in about a week. Any activity in which the ear might be bent should be avoided for a month or so. Most adults can go back to work about five days after surgery.

Children can go back to school after seven days or so, if they are careful about playground activity. You may want to ask your child’s teacher to keep an eye on the child for a few weeks

7. When will I have more natural looking ears?

Most patients, young and old alike, are thrilled with the results of ear surgery. But keep in mind, the goal is improvement, not perfection. Do not expect both ears to match perfectly, perfect symmetry is both unlikely and unnatural in ears. If you have discussed the procedure and your expectations with your surgeon before the operation, chances are, you will be quite pleased with the result.

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