Otoplasty Ear Pinning
People of all ages can feel extremely self-conscious about ears that stick out. If you or your child is concerned about ears that protrude too much, then having an ear pinning or “otoplasty” procedure might be the right decision to make.
A number of conditions that affect ears can be corrected by otoplasty. The most common reason, of course, is wanting to minimize the appearance of ears that stick out. Ears that are too large can be addressed with “reduction otoplasty.”
Other issues that can be addressed with ear pinning include asymmetrical ears—congenital differences in size and shape—or other malformations, or correction of a previous otoplasty that did not yield satisfactory results.
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Ear Pinning Safety
Because young children and teenagers often undergo ear pinning surgery, safety is paramount, and risks are always balanced against benefits. Dr. Gerstle will want to understand your reasons for undergoing the surgery and to ensure the patient is healthy and in a good state of mind.
The surgery is considered to be very safe, and patients are nearly always happy with the result. Any surgery does carry a certain amount of risk, however. Overcorrection or asymmetry later on are rare but possible outcomes of the surgery.
The Otoplasty Procedure
Otoplasty is a blanket term that covers many different cosmetic procedures that can be done to the outer ears. Most procedures will involve opening an incision from behind the ear or in the inner creases to gain access to the cartilage, then removal or reshaping of the cartilage, and finally closing up the incisions with stitches. Depending on the problem to be corrected, Dr. Gerstle will make small, subtle incisions in the skin folds and sculpt the cartilage toward the back of the head. Sometimes, extra cartilage needs to be taken to make a more natural-looking fold.
Ear Pinning Post Op
Make sure there is someone who can pick you up and take you home once you are cleared to leave the facility. It will be important to lay on your back rather than on your sides for several days at least. Ask Dr. Gerstle when you can wash your hair—you will want to avoid getting water in your ears for several days.
A special headband will be worn during the day for a month and at night for up to three months to protect the delicate ear tissue and allow the surgery to heal. Plan to take a week away from school or work, and to pause workouts and sports for a month.
Surprisingly, it can take a year for the cartilage to firm up and take its permanent shape. However, you will be able to see the difference immediately. The ears will look completely normal within three to six weeks, once the swelling goes down.
Benefits of Ear Pinning
- Women generally feel more self-confident about wearing their hair up
- Men achieve a more mature look
- Increases self-esteem and self-confidence
- Allows a child to grow without being self-conscious about their ears
- Brings the ears into harmony with the rest of the facial features
The New You—Working With Dr. Gerstle
Whether the surgery is for an adult or child, the patient and/or parent will first sit with Dr. Gerstle for a private consultation. Medical history, birth history for children, and a physical exam will all be performed and goals will be discussed. Our 3D imaging system, called “Mirror Imaging,” can help patients see the results they can expect on a digitally altered photo of their own face.
Otoplasty before or during the teenage years has a distinct advantage in that the ear tissue is still soft and more malleable than it is once a person enters adulthood. Ears that stick out, are asymmetrical, or are too large can be easily corrected. Ears can be reconstructed when they’ve been lost or damaged by injury. Even unsightly earlobes that are stretched out, wrinkled, or disproportionally large can be addressed.
If the surgery is to be performed on a young child, Dr. Gerstle may recommend general anesthesia. When the procedure is performed on an adult, it is usually performed under sedation and local anesthetic. Regardless, the procedure will be performed in Dr. Gerstle’s office-based outpatient surgery center.
Ear Pinning FAQ
When is the best time for my child to have his/her ears pinned?
Parents are usually first to notice a child’s protruding ears, and Dr. Gerstle recommends not undergoing the procedure until the child mentions it himself or herself. Surgery can be scary to a child, and no surgery happens without some element of discomfort. Therefore, the more the child is on board with wanting the procedure, the better the child will be able to cope with anxiety or discomfort.
Age five is generally the youngest candidate for otoplasty. At this age, the ears are close to adult size, and the cartilage has hardened to the point that we are reasonably sure that the surgery will take.
When can someone resume normal activities after ear pinning surgery?
Most patients can return to work or school after a few days of taking it easy. Dr. Gerstle recommends avoiding vigorous activity such as contact sports for up to three months.
Will the results of an ear pinning be permanent?
Yes. While the ears will be swollen and bruised immediately after surgery, once the swelling decreases and the bruising fades, the results will be permanent, even for young children. Dr. Gerstle suggests waiting six months to a year for the final result to be judged.
Does otoplasty affect hearing?
No, only the outer structures of the ear—such as the top edge, the outer cartilage, and the earlobes—are addressed with ear pinning surgery. A reduction in ear size will likewise not affect hearing.
Why do my child’s ears stick out?
Protruding ears may be due to cartilage overgrowth or a congenital malformation of the ear.
Will my results look natural?
Yes. The ears can successfully be minimized or reshaped to come into symmetry and harmony with the rest of the facial features. This procedure can be accomplished at any age, but it is more commonly performed in children and teenagers.
Can I get other plastic surgery procedures done at the same time as otoplasty?
Absolutely. Many other facial surgeries combine well with ear pinning, as many of them are accessed via incisions behind and around the ears. Face and neck lifts, rhinoplasty, and implant surgery all pair well with otoplasty, as do injectable treatments such as Botox and Kybella.
Are the ears literally “pinned” back during ear pinning?
No, this is simply the common term for otoplasty. No pins are used.
Is otoplasty a common procedure for adults?
Yes! Adults who have always been dissatisfied with the appearance of their ears are very eager to get ear pinning when they have the opportunity. Women feel free to wear their hair up as desired, while men, who usually don’t have such an easy way of hiding unsightly ears, are relieved to leave behind the boyish appearance that can come with prominent adult ears.
Will general or local anesthesia be used during the procedure?
Both are routine, but especially in children, general anesthesia is preferred.
Ear Pinning Financing
We offer plastic surgery financing through CareCredit. CareCredit is a healthcare credit card designed for your health and wellness needs for you and your entire family. Use it to pay for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by medical insurance, and special financing options are available that you may not be able to get with other cards.
Pay for health, and wellness care at over 200,000 enrolled providers across the nation. Once you’ve applied, you can use it again and again at any location that accepts CareCredit. For more information and to apply, please visit CareCredit.com.
What our patients are saying…
Dr. Gerstle and his nurse “susan” made my procedure so comfortable for me! Helped me meet transportation concerns, met me in the office after hours…The list truly does go on and on. These are things that I think the medical field has got away from. Thanks dr. Gerstle for putting the patient first. Big thumbs up!!! – 50 year old male. Lexington, KY
I saw Dr. Gerstle at Lexington Plastic Surgery and am so happy that I did. He gave me some options about what he thought would look good and asked for my opinion and we hashed out a plan.
So happy I did this for myself. Dr. Gerstle did such a nice job. Next year I’m going back for a tummy tuck & telling all of my friends they need to do the same. Oh, and he always gives you his cell phone # and email so you can always ask him questions! How awesome is that?! – So So So Happy I Did This for Myself! – Lexington, KY
I have had nothing but a positive experience with Dr. Gerstle and the office staff. His demeanor and bed-side manor is positive, thorough, attentive, flexible, and personal.
When I had my consultation with Dr. Gerstle for facial asymmetry due to my neurofibromatosis I was so pleased with how it went, for the first time I felt confident that the results I had always wanted could be achieved. I was overjoyed with the results after my surgery and will continue to see him for anything I need in the future. – 29 Years Old with Facial Asymmetry
After finding Dr. Gerstle, I have to admit that I was a little skeptical because he was so new but after I met him and his staff for the first time, I knew that I was in the right hands. Not only is he very intelligent and dedicated to his practice, but he has a sincere appreciation for his patients. He made me feel welcomed and confident that I would receive the results I was looking for. He took a genuine interest in what I wanted and I am very pleased with the results so far. He’s not done with me yet though so I know more fantastic results are to come. – 25 Year Old Lipo Patient – Lexington, KY
I am extremely impressed with the entire experience! Everyone is happy, helpful, and considerate.
I am a customer for life!
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