Otoplasty (Ear Pinning)

The graceful and complex curves of the ear make it one of the most interesting parts of the body. Well-formed ears are an important component of our overall appearance even though few of us stop to consider this.

Protruding or prominent ears can be a source of embarrassment to adults and children alike. Often the condition provokes teasing at an early age and can have a significant impact on a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Fortunately, prominent ears can be surgically corrected in a child as young as 4 years because the ears are fully developed at this point. Adults who have protruding or large ears are also often sensitive about their appearance as well.

Before Otoplasty

1 Week After Surgery

Otoplasty is a surgery designed to make the ears appear less prominent by positioning them closer to the head and by reducing them to a more proportioned size. In addition, the procedure can reshape the ears and give them symmetry. Protruding ears may take on various forms, such as a “Dumbo” like characteristic. Alternatively, ears can protrude due to a lop ear where the top folds downward or inward. A person could also have a “shell” ear that is lacking an outer fold in the cartilage.

Whether done as a child or an adult, otoplasty patients are among the happiest of plastic surgery patients. Though what is actually done is subtle, the impact on a patient’s appearance is dramatic.

Otoplasty procedure

Otoplasty is an outpatient surgery that Dr. Lieberman performs under general anesthesia for young children but can be accomplished in the office surgery room with just local anesthesia for adults. While changing the shape of the ear will not affect hearing, it will certainly add a renewed feeling of self-confidence to the patient’s well being.

Dr. Lieberman begins the surgery with an incision just behind the ear, in the natural fold where the ear is joined to the head. The necessary amounts of cartilage and skin are removed to achieve the desired effect. In some cases, your doctor will trim the cartilage, shaping it into a more desirable form and “pin” the cartilage into place with permanent, internal sutures to secure it. In other instances it is not necessary to remove any cartilage at all. After sculpting the cartilage to the desired shape, sutures will be used to hold the ear in the new position and to close the incision that was made behind the ear.

Soft dressings are applied to the ears and remain in place for a few days post-operatively. Any discomfort after the surgery can be reduced by the prescribed pain medication. Otoplasty patients should wear a headband continuously for the first post-operative week and then only while sleeping for the next 4 weeks. The headband will help to hold the ears in the desired position. The sutures will be removed a week after the surgery. Because the incision is made in the natural crease behind the ear, the problem of visibility is inconsequential and the scar usually heals as a faint thin line.

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