Ear Surgery | Otoplasty | Ear Pinning

Ear surgery, or otoplasty, is usually done to set prominent ears back closer to the head or to reduce the size of large ears. This operation is mostly done on children between the ages of 4 and 14. Ears are almost fully grown by age four. The earlier the surgery is done, the less teasing the child will have to endure.

Ear surgery is available for adults, and there are minimal risks associated with being an older patient. Ear surgery can treat a variety of ear problmes including:

  • Loop ear – the tip seems to fold down and forward
  • Cupped ear – usually a very small ear
  • Shell ear-the curve in the outer rim, or the natural folds and creases are missing
  • Large or stretched earlobes
  • Lobes with large creases and wrinkles

Cosmetic ear surgery usually takes about two to three hours, though complicated procedures can take longer. For prominent ears, it is common for Dr. Stein to make 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, a larger piece of cartilage will be removed 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 the cartilage. In most cases, patients will have a faint scar on the back of the ear that fades over time. Even if only one ear appears to protrude, surgery is performed on both ears to ensure a better balance.

After an Ear Surgery

Patients are usually up and around within a few hours after surgery. However, you may choose to stay overnight with a child until all of the anesthesia wears off. A bulky bandage will be wrapped around the patient’s head immediately after surgery to promote molding and healing. Patients may experience slight throbbing or aching in the ears for a few days, but this can be relieved with medication.
After a few days, we can replace the bulky bandages with lighter head dressing, similar to a headband. Follow your doctor’s directions for wearing this, especially at night. Stitches are removed, or will dissolve, in about a week. You should avoid any activity that can bend your ear for a month or so. Most adults go back to work about five days after surgery, and children can go back to school about seven days after surgery if they’re careful about playground activity. You may want to ask your child’s teacher to keep an eye on the child for a few weeks.