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Otoplasty (ear pinning)

Prominent external ears (prominotia and lop ear) may be a source of embarrassment or teasing throughout childhood, and may severely impact a person’s confidence as an adult. In the case of prominent but normally-shaped ears, the bowl (concha cavum) of the ear is too large or projects too far away from side of the head (mastoid bone). In other cases, the top of the external ear (pinna) is lacking one of the normal folds (lop ear). This gives the ears a fullness or a rabbit-like appearance, and may cause them to look out of proportion with the rest of the face.

Luckily, each of these issues can be treated with a simple surgical procedure called otoplasty or ear pinning. Dr. Ransom reshapes or pins prominent ears using suture and cartilage-shaping techniques. All incisions are placed behind the ear, leaving no visible scars. Otoplasty is a minimally-invasive procedure and can be performed with local anesthesia or minimal sedation in an office-based facility or ambulatory surgery center. For children, the procedure may be performed in a hospital setting. Please contact Dr. Ransom for more information about otoplasty or to schedule your consultation today!

Who is a candidate?
People with prominent ears or ears that project too far from the sides of the head may be a candidate for otoplasty or ear pinning. In adults, surgical correction can be undertaken any time. In children, the ears must be done growing before the procedure is performed. In most cases, the external ears reach adult size between 8 and 12 years of age. Dr. Ransom would be happy to discuss the anatomy of the external ear and procedures that are used to reshape this area during your consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What should I expect after my otoplasty (ear pinning)?
A: After the procedure, a protective dressing is worn for 24 hours. When the dressing is removed, the treated area may appear slightly puffy or swollen. Minimal bruising and redness can also occur, but significantly swelling or pain should not occur. Acute or rapid increases in swelling should be reported immediately to the doctor. With appropriate activity restrictions, patients are typically able to return to school or work very soon after treatment.

Q: How much will otoplasty (ear pinning) change my appearance?
A: Depending on the size, shape, and projection of the ears, otoplasty can have a dramatic effect on your appearance. The change tends to be subtle, however, and generally does not draw direct attention. Immediately after the procedure, the ears will be slightly “over-corrected” – meaning that the tightness of the ear pinning is greater than it will be after healing. This is a necessary aspect of the procedure, because the elasticity of the ear cartilage and the innate give of the suture material will result in some mild loosening over the healing phase.

After the ears have healed, many patients report that people tell them they “look good” but cannot exactly identify the reason. For most people, the greatest benefit is in self-confidence – they are able to stop worrying about how their ears look, and start thinking about the positive aspects of their features. Feeling better is the goal, and Dr. Ransom will work with you to achieve it.

Q: I am an athlete. Are there any restrictions after my otoplasty surgery?
A: This is an important area of discussion when planning your ear pinning or ear reshaping surgery. All patients will wear a bulky, soft cotton dressing for 24 hours after the procedure. This is then changed to a less bulky supportive dressing that is worn for the rest of the week following your surgery, and then typically at night only during the next week. If you play contact sports (particularly wrestling, rugby, football, or basketball), it is essential that you take time away. In general, Dr. Ransom recommends 6 weeks; individual cases may vary, however, based on your specific anatomy and surgical procedure. Proper care, including avoidance of potential injury and stretching of the ears, is essential to achieving the best result possible.

Please note that all patients are different and individual healing times and results may vary. The statements regarding procedures and recovery made here are general rules.