Is Otoplasty Worth it? Expert Views on Ear Pinning Surgery

Otoplasty, commonly referred to as ear surgery or ear pinning, is a surgical procedure that repositions and reshapes the ears to create a more proportionate and balanced appearance.
Otoplasty Ear Surgery
Otoplasty Ear Surgery

Do you find yourself a little uncomfortable or self-conscious when all eyes are on your prominently protruding ears?

If you’re among those longing to correct ear deformities or excessive ear projection, and wondering what to do if your ears stick out, here is the solution.

Otoplasty, also known as ear pinning surgery, can reposition or reshape the ear to create a balanced appearance . Let’s explore how the procedure can help you achieve the harmonious ear appearance you desire.

What is Otoplasty Surgery?

Otoplasty, also known as ear pinning surgery, is a cosmetic procedure done to reposition or reshape the ear to create a more proportionate and balanced appearance. Dr. Wong says ” The procedure is done for children of age five and older but there are cases where it is done for three-year old too”

Dr. Laura Geigaite, a board-certified dermatologist says ” Otoplasty is particularly suitable for infants, when the ear cartilage is highly malleable. For older children and adults, it largely depends on the patient’s unique anatomical characteristics and their commitment to the treatment regimen.”

Otoplasty is done for the following reasons

  1. The ears sticking out or proturding too far from the head.
  2. Birth defects or ear deformity leading to uneven proportion.
  3. Specific ear injuries that have altered the ear proportion.

Ear pinning surgery is safe and efficient and can be performed as an outpatient, allowing the patient to leave the hospital on the same day as the operation. Depending on the case’s complexity, the procedure may take one to three hours.

Ear Pinning Surgery Types

Otoplasty can address different concerns of ear deformities. Here are the some common otoplasty ear surgery types

  1. Traditional Otoplasty: This is the most common type of otoplasty procedure. It is a surgical procedure which involves making incisions behind the ear to access the cartilage. The surgery takes typically 1 to 2 hours to perform and the recovery extends up to one to two weeks.
  2. Incisionless Otoplasty: It is a non-surgical otoplasty which involves strategic placement of specialized sutures to reshape the ear without making any incisions. The
  3. Cartilage-Splitting Otoplasty: This technique is suitable for individuals with thicker or more prominent cartilage. People with cauliflower ear is one of the best candidate for cartilage-splitting otoplasty. This type of otoplasty allows for precise cartilage manipulation and can be combined with sutures for added support.
  4. Ear lobe repair – Earlobe repair would address a torn or stretched earlobe. This damage can occur from accidental pulling or tearing, gauging the earlobe, and wearing heavy earrings. Earlobe repair is a reasonably simple surgery frequently carried out in the clinic or office of the physician under local anesthetic.

Common Non-Surgical Techniques for Ear Pinning Surgery

The two most common non-surgical techniques that have revolutionized the way we approach ear pinning are ear molding and splinting.

Dr. Laura Geigaite, a board-certified dermatologist

 Ear molding involves the use of custom-made, soft silicone devices that gently mold the ear to the desired shape. This method is typically used on newborns, as their ears still contain maternal estrogen, which keeps the cartilage soft and moldable.

On the other hand, ear splinting is a technique where adhesive strips are applied to hold the ear in the correct position. The use of compression ear garments is also an emerging trend, particularly for older children and adults.

What Happens During the Otoplasty Procedure?

Dr. Youn explains how the ear pinning surgery is done.

Initially, the patient will be given local or general anesthesia based on the extent of the procedure. Then, the surgeon will make an incision behind the ear or within the ear canal to expose the cartilage.

If needed, the surgeon will then reshape the cartilage and reposition the ear closer to the head. The incision is then closed with sutures or skin adhesive. Dressing and bandages will be applied to the ears, and the patient will be sent to a recovery room.

After the procedure, patients can expect some swelling and bruising around the ears, which should subside within a few days. The surgeon will provide post-operative instructions to ensure the patient is comfortable and healing properly.

Ear Pinning Surgery: Recovery Time

It usually takes a few weeks to recover following an otoplasty, and it’s crucial to carefully follow the surgeon’s recommendations to ensure proper healing and minimize the risk of complications.

Following surgery, the ears will be covered in a dressing or bandage to keep them safe and in the appropriate position. This dressing is typically taken off after a couple of days. The patient could be given a headband to wear at night for a couple of weeks to protect the ears while they sleep.

When asked Dr. Laura Geigaite says “For newborns, results can often be achieved within 1-2 weeks. In older patients, several months of consistent treatment may be required.”

Bruising, swelling, and soreness around the ears may be frequent in the initial days following surgery. To alleviate this discomfort, the doctor may provide painkillers. Rest is essential during this time, and you should refrain from engaging in physical activities.

While the ears continue to recover and adapt to their new location, the full effects of the otoplasty may not be apparent for several months. Avoid wearing headphones or too-tight helmets since they could put pressure on your ears at this time.

Otoplasty recovery time may differ from person to person and hence it is crucial to take adequate aftercare efforts for speedy recovery.

Beware of the pitfalIs! Is your otoplasty stitches coming out? It is time to consult your surgeon.

Otoplasty Ear Surgery Risks And Complications

Dr. Laura Geigaite says “Potential risks with non-surgical techniques are generally minimal but can include skin irritation from adhesive or an allergic reaction to the material used in the ear mold. Limitations could include less effective results in older children or adults due to less pliable ear cartilage.”

Some of the potential side effects include:

  • Infection: Any surgery carries the risk of infection, and otoplasty is no exception. Antibiotics may be recommended to patients to lower the risk of infection.
  • Bleeding: There can be some bleeding at the surgical site. This bleeding may occasionally be substantial and need additional medical care.
  • Scarring: Otoplasty requires skin incisions, which may leave a noticeable scar. Nonetheless, otoplasty scars are often minor and well-concealed behind the ear.
  • Asymmetry: After otoplasty, it is possible for the ears to heal slightly out of alignment. While the majority of asymmetries are modest and undetectable to others, in some circumstances, more surgery may be required to fix them.
  • Overcorrection or Undercorrection: During surgery, the ear may occasionally be over- or under-corrected, giving it a less-than-ideal look. It could take more than one operation to get the desired outcome.
  • Numbness or Changes in Sensation: These symptoms can be temporary or permanent. Individuals may feel tingling or numbness at the surgery site.
  • Allergic Reactions: Some people may experience an allergic reaction to the anesthetic or other medications used during the treatment.

Patients need to discuss their medical history, any medications they are taking, and their goals for the procedure with their surgeon to minimize the risk of complications. Patients should also carefully follow their surgeon’s post-operative instructions to ensure proper healing and reduce the risk of complications.

How Should I Proceed With The Otoplasty Procedure?

The initial step if you are considering otoplasty ear surgery is to arrange a consultation with a licensed and skilled plastic surgeon. The surgeon will examine your ears and review your surgical goals during the consultation. To ensure you are a good candidate for surgery, they will also review your medical background and any drugs you are now on.

If you and the doctor decide that an otoplasty is the best course of action for you, the doctor will give you pre-operative instructions, which may include avoiding specific drugs and dietary supplements, smoking, alcoholic beverages, etc., that can raise the risk of bleeding.

An anesthetic will be administered to you on the day of the procedure to ensure you are relaxed and pain-free throughout the surgery. After making incisions behind the ears to reach the cartilage, the surgeon will sculpt it to achieve the desired effect. The surgeon will utilize sutures to close the incisions once the cartilage has been reshaped.

Following the procedure, you will be under the care of medical personnel until you are discharged. Having a driver is crucial because you might still be experiencing the effects of the anesthetic.

To guarantee adequate healing and lower the chance of complications during the healing process, it’s crucial to adhere carefully to the surgeon’s post-operative instructions. It can entail taking pain relievers as needed, avoiding intense activity, wearing a headband or other garment to protect the ears, and so forth.

Generally, the ideal strategy for otoplasty is to thoroughly vet potential doctors, schedule a consultation with a qualified plastic surgeon, and pay close attention to pre- and post-operative instructions to achieve the best result.

Otoplasty Cost

Otoplasty costs can vary significantly based on several variables, such as the surgeon’s experience, the facility’s location, and the complexity of the treatment.

In the US, otoplasty procedures typically cost between $3,000 and $6,000. This price normally includes the surgeon’s fees, the cost of the facility, any necessary post-operative appointments, and anesthesia.

Otoplasty is often seen as a cosmetic operation. Thus it is crucial to remember that the price may not be reimbursed by insurance. If otoplasty is judged medically necessary, such as when the ears have been harmed due to trauma or an accident, some insurance plans may pay the cost of the treatment.

The complexity of the treatment, the location of the practice, and the surgeon’s experience are a few of the many variables that affect how much an otoplasty will cost.

Patients should speak with their surgeon to receive a precise estimate of the cost of otoplasty based on their unique needs and circumstances. To ensure that the surgery is affordable, it is also crucial to consider financing options, such as payment plans or medical financing.

Is Otoplasty Permanent?

Yes, otoplasty is a permanent procedure. Ear pinning aims to reshape and reposition the ear cartilage to achieve the desired results. Once the cartilage is reshaped and secured in its new position, it typically maintains its form over time.

However, it’s crucial to note that the natural aging process and factors like gravity can still have some subtle effects on the ear’s appearance over the years. While otoplasty provides long-lasting results, the ears may undergo minimal changes as part of the normal aging process.

It’s essential to follow the post-operative care instructions provided by your surgeon to ensure optimal healing and long-term results. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle and protecting your ears from trauma or excessive pressure, you can help preserve the outcomes of the otoplasty procedure for many years.

Choosing The Right Surgeon For Otoplasty Ear Surgery

When choosing a surgeon for otoplasty, it is important to do your research. Look for a board-certified surgeon who has experience with otoplasty procedures. Check their credentials, read reviews from past patients, and ask to see before and after photos of their work.


Otoplasty is a safe and effective procedure that can enhance the appearance of the ears and boost self-confidence. By reshaping and repositioning the ears, otoplasty can achieve a more balanced and proportionate look that complements the face. However, like any surgical procedure, it comes with some risks and requires careful preparation and recovery.

If you are considering otoplasty, it is important to clearly understand the procedure and what to expect. Consult a qualified plastic surgeon to learn more about the procedure and whether it suits you. Be sure to choose a qualified and experienced surgeon to ensure a safe and successful outcome.

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