Otoplasty (Ear – Pinning/Reduction/Repair)

Simply put, otoplasty means ear surgery. There are different types of ear surgeries which can be performed to improve the shape, position or proportion of the ear. 

What is otoplasty?

Ear surgery, medically known as otoplasty, can include ear pinning, earlobe repair (stretched or gauged) and earlobe reduction. Otoplasty can correct a defect in the ear structure that was present from birth or caused by an injury. Otoplasty can correct an earlobe that has been ripped by an earring or stretched or gauged. Many people are self conscious about even minor deformities that can be fixed with otoplasty. Otoplasty can provide a more natural shape and bring balance and proportion to the ears and face. A successful otoplasty can have profound benefits to both appearance and self esteem.

What can otoplasty treat?

  • Ripped earlobes
  • Stretched or gauged earlobes
  • Overly large ears (a condition called macrotia)
  • Protruding ears occurring on one of both sides of the face
  • Dissatisfaction with a previous ear surgery
  • Patients who are missing one of both ears from birth or injury can have new ears constructed with otoplasty
  • Ear deformities such as lop ear, cupped ear, shell ear, and cauliflower ear

What can otoplasty do?

  • Reshape the ears
  • Improve size or structure
  • Improve protrusion
  • Correct ear deformities

Ear Pinning

Ear pinning is the otoplasty procedure that improves the size or structure of the ear and corrects ear deformities such as overly large ears or protruding ears.

This requires anesthesia— either local, intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. An incision is made behind the ear to create or increase the antihelical fold (just inside the rim of the ear) and to reduce enlarged conchal cartilage (the largest and deepest concavity of the external ear). Occasionally incisions are necessary on the front of the ear, they are made within its folds to hide them. Internal, nonremovable sutures are used to create and secure the newly shaped cartilage in place. External stitches close the incision. Techniques are individualized, taking care not to distort other structures and to avoid an unnatural “pinned back” appearance.

Recovery After Ear Pinning

A soft, bulky dressing will be applied to each ear to promote healing and effective molding of the tissues. Patients should avoid sleeping on their sides and may relieve any mild discomfort with pain medications. A headband may be recommended for temporarily regular wear to hold the ears in their desired position.

Five to seven days: The stitches will dissolve or will be removed. Adults can usually return to work after five days. Children can return to school after one week if they are careful about playground activity. If applicable, the headband should still be worn consistently. Patients should continue to avoid sleeping on their sides.

Two weeks: Patients can stop wearing the headband but should avoid any activity that could bend the ears, including sleeping on their sides.

One month to six weeks: Patients should feel back to normal, resume all normal activities, and be able to fully enjoy their results.

Earlobe Repair

The earlobe repair procedure is usually to treat stretched or torn earring holes or earlobes. This can occur from wearing extremely heavy earrings too often, from traumatic tearing of the lobe from an earring, or from a gauged ear piercing. Following an earlobe repair procedure your ears will be back to normal and you will not be able to tell that they were ever stretched, torn or gauged.

Earlobe repair is a very simple in office procedure that usually takes about an hour to complete. Local anesthesia is applied and the patient stays completely awake during the procedure. There is essentially zero downtime after the procedure. During the procedure any portions of the ear that are scarred are removed and then the hole is closed with small sutures to minimize scarring. An antibiotic ointment is placed over the wound to keep it moist. There is virtually no pain associated with the procedure. A follow up appointment is required to remove the stitches.

Earlobe Reduction

Earlobe reduction is for people who desire smaller, more symmetrical ears or for people whose earlobes have started to droop or become enlarged over the years. Similar to earlobe repair this procedure only requires local anesthesia and can be performed in office within an hour. The excess portions of the lobes are efficiently and removed and the skin is sutured together. An antibiotic ointment is placed over the wound to keep it moist. There is virtually no pain associated with the procedure. Your stitches are removed after about a week and, once fully-healed, only a very fine line, well hidden in the natural curvature of your ear, will remain.

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