Have You Heard About Otoplasty?

The Various Ways to Correct the Appearance of Your Ears

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There was a story this week on Inside Edition about a six year-old boy in Utah who had his ears pinned. According to his parents, he had already endured being teased by others about the awkwardness of his ears, and they wanted to spare him the pain of being teased any longer.

Many people, like Gage, seek ear pinning for cosmetic or aesthetic reasons. Ear pinning, a type of OTOPLASTY (a variety of surgical procedures involving the outer ear), is a common surgical procedure to correct protruding ears.

It is the only plastic surgery procedure that is performed mostly on children; however, adults do seek otoplasty procedures as well.  

In addition to correcting protruding ears, people of all ages seek otoplasty for a variety of reasons, including:

  • To reconstruct an external ear in children who are born with a partially or completely missing auricle (the visible part of the external ear).
  • To correct major disparities in the size or shape of a patient's ears.

When ear pinning is performed on a child, he or she will be given general anesthesia. When performed on an adult, depending on the specific situation, general or local anesthesia is used. The surgeon typically removes cartilage and skin behind the ears, and then uses permanent sutures to pin back the ears. 

If you choose to see a doctor about having your ears pinned, he or she may also recommend performing other procedures to enhance the appearance of your ears.

For example, if you would like to change the size or shape of your ears, your surgeon may recommend ear reshaping.

Ear augmentation is another type of otoplasty that is meant for patients whose ears are underdeveloped, or if they are missing parts of their outer ear and earlobe. Usually, ear augmentation requires using cartilage from another part of the patient’s body to form and shape a natural looking ear.

Ear reduction involves reducing the structures of the outer ear. With this procedure, protruding or overly large ears are made smaller and more symmetrical.

Just like with any surgical procedure, all of the otoplasty procedures carry with them certain risks and potential complications. These include: bleeding or infection, numbness or loss of feeling around the incision, and a reaction to the anesthesia. Specific risks include: formation of abnormal scar tissue, hematoma, distortion of the ear’s shape, and reappearance of ear protrusion (usually occurs within the first six months after surgery).

If you think that otoplasty is right for you or someone you love, make an appointment with an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon in your area to further discuss your options. 

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