Ear Pinning (Otoplasty)
Otoplasty, or ear pinning surgery, is a surgical procedure designed to set back prominent ears closer to the head and/or to give the appearance that large ears have been made smaller. An incision is made and hidden on the back of the ear, in the crease between the ear and the head.
the otoplasty Procedure
Otoplasties are often performed on children. We generally wait until the child is five to seven years of age, so that the ear is close to adult size and the cartilage can hold our reforming sutures. For children in this age range, general anesthetic is required. For adults, it is generally well tolerated with local anesthesia alone.
An otoplasty is performed on an outpatient basis. It begins with a small incisions made behind the ear, in the natural crease where the ear meets the head. The cartilage is then sculpted and bent to achieve the desired appearance. After sculpting the cartilage to the desired shape, sutures and a bandage are used to hold the ear in position until the first post visit. Depending on the age of the patient, a light headband is usually recommended for about 6 weeks postoperative.
Recovery After Otoplasty
Although the ears may ache or throb for a few days, a patient usually feels normal within hours of the surgery's completion. Medication is prescribed to help alleviate any discomfort. A few days after otoplasty, the bandages around the head are replaced with a light head band that is worn for about 6 weeks.
In general, moving around and walking is permitted and encouraged early on. Walks for exercise are possible at about the 2 week mark. Jogging and more vigorous exercise is allowed at about 4 weeks. At 6 weeks, there are essentially no restrictions. However, Dr. Wanzel will guide you through a customized recovery depending on your exact surgery and how the recovery process is progressing.
Once the ears have healed completely, they usually have very faint scars in the crease between the ear and the scalp, which typically fade further with time and, because of their strategic placement, are virtually invisible.
Risks of Otoplasty
Complications following an otoplasty are thankfully quite rare. The most common complication (and happily it is exceedingly rare) in the first day or two is a hematoma (ie. a collection of unwanted excess blood). Other complications include, but are not limited to infections, a decreased sensation of the back of the ear, recurrence of the ear protrusion, and asymmetries.