Otoplasty (ear pinning)
Ears are one of the first parts of the body to develop to full adult size, so if they protrude they can be particularly noticeable in children and may lead to teasing or bullying.
Adults with protruding ears can experience practical problems such as finding it difficult to wear certain items of headgear, such as a motorbike helmet.
What are the benefits?
Surgery to reshape the ears involves remodelling the cartilage into a more attractive and less obvious shape. Otoplasty, sometimes known as a pinnaplasty, is when the cartilage is remodelled and the ear positioned closer to the head. The aim of otoplasty surgery is to improve the appearance of a person’s ears and to make both ears as symmetrical as possible.
During an otoplasty, the surgeon makes a small cut behind the ear to expose the ear cartilage. The cartilage is repositioned and shaped by removing small pieces, then stitching the remaining structure into the desired shape and position.
How long does the operation take?
Otoplasty takes approximately 1 – 1½ hours to perform depending on the complexity of the surgery.
How long do I stay in hospital?
Otoplasty involving older children and adults are often carried out under local anaesthetic as a Day-case. Younger children may need to have a general anaesthetic.
What can I expect afterwards?
After the otoplasty, a bandage may be wrapped around your head to protect your ears and the surrounding area from infection and to help keep it clean.
Depending on your progress, the bandage may need to be kept in place for up to a week after the operation. During this time, you will not be able to wash your hair. You will be able to wash your hair after the bandage has been removed, but avoid getting the affected area wet.
Some surgeons recommend wearing a head band at night for several weeks to protect your ears while you are asleep.
While you are recovering from an otoplasty you will need to avoid:
swimming for up to eight weeks after surgery
sports or activities that put your ears at risk of injury, such as judo or rugby, for up to 12 weeks after surgery
After the stitches and dressing have been removed, keep your ears and the surrounding area clean to help prevent infection.
During the first few days after having an otoplasty, your ears may be sore or tender. They may also feel numb and you may have a slight tingling sensation for a few weeks.
Pain and discomfort is minimal and well controlled with oral pain relief.
What are the long term results?
The long terms results are excellent but it is important to have realistic expectations about what Otoplasty can achieve. Surgery can make your ears less prominent and smaller but it is not always possible to achieve perfect symmetry. You will have a scar which is discreetly positioned behind the ear.
What are the risks?
With any surgical procedure there are always associated risks. However, if your surgery is undertaken by a qualified plastic surgeon the risks are reduced, nonetheless, specific complications may occur, such as mild infection which can occur around the incision site, but usually subsides over a period of about 2 weeks.
It is important for you to examine the reasons for undergoing a cosmetic surgery procedure as it is unlikely to resolve any life issues you may have. Having surgery for someone else is not the basis from which to make a decision. Cosmetic surgery will certainly boost your self esteem but you do need to be realistic about your expectations. Cosmetic surgery will lead to marked improvements but you need to be aware that the end result of your surgery can and does take time and you need to allow your body to recover.
Our aim is to fully understand your concerns and desires before agreeing on a treatment plan which is in your best interest. At consultation your consultant surgeon will explain your treatment fully including any potential risks and complications. Your consultation surgeon will advise you of the best strategy to address all of your needs and will also explain all aspects of your post-operative care.
If you would like to speak to one of our consultant surgeons, Mr Alan Park or Mr Sudip Ghosh, please do not hesitate to telephone or fill out our online form.