What Is Ear Pinning?
Ear pinning, also known as otoplasty, is a cosmetic procedure that can improve the appearance of the ears. Otoplasty does not affect hearing, however, can provide significant psychological benefits to anyone who is teased about ear size and/or shape, has had a serious ear injury, or simply wants to improve their appearance.
Why Chose an Otoplasty?
Patients often choose to undergo otoplasty to set unusually protruding ears closer to the head. This is why the procedure is commonly known as ear pinning. Patients may also choose surgery to reduce the size of abnormally large ears. Otoplasty may also be helpful in repairing:
- Abnormal constructions or lop ear
- Cauliflower ear which results from repeated trauma
- Large, stretched or torn earlobes
- Earlobes with large creases and wrinkles
- Microtia or abnormally small ears
Dr. Guarnieri, owner of Williamsburg Plastic Surgery, can construct new ears or parts of ears for patients who are missing them from causes that include birth defects, severe injuries and skin cancers.
Ideal Candidates for Ear Pinning
Patient of any age who feel self-conscious about their ears may be good candidates for otoplasty. Ear pinning is typically performed on children between 4 and 14 years old. This is because ears are almost fully developed by the of age 4, so early surgery can help create self-confidence when a child begins going to school. However, not everyone is a candidate for otoplasty. Candidates must be in good general health and have realistic expectations about what surgery can do for them.
The Otoplasty Procedure
It generally takes Dr. Guarnieri about 2 to 3 hours to perform otoplasty on an outpatient basis. Typically, he uses general anesthesia for very young patients and local anesthesia plus a sedative for older children and adults.
To start, Dr. Guarnieri will make a small incision behind the ear. This is in the natural crease where the ear meets the head. Then, he will sculpt and bend to the desired appearance. In some types of otoplasty, Dr. Guarnieri will remove skin, leave the cartilage in one piece, and bend it back on itself. This creates a less protruding ear.
After Dr. Guarnieri is done sculpting the cartilage he will suture and bandage the ear. This will hold the ear in position until healing is complete. To make sure the ears are as symmetrical as possible, Dr. Guarnieri may choose to operate on both ears, even if only one has a problem.
Recovery After Otoplasty Surgery
Patients may experience some aching or throbbing for a few days following surgery. However, many patients will feel normal within hours of surgery. Dr. Guarnieri will prescribe medication to alleviate discomfort. A few days after surgery, patients will return for a follow-up visit. During that time, bandages are replaced with surgical dressings for a week. Most patients are able to return to their normal activities at this time.
Then, patients will have another visit where Dr. Guarnieri will remove the dressings and stitches. It is important for patients to avoid sleeping on their sides for 2 weeks after surgery.
Is There Scarring from Ear Pinning?
After the ears have healed completely, they usually have faint scars on their backs, which typically fade with time. Since Dr. Guarnieri strategically places the incisions behind the ears in the natural crease they become virtually invisible when healed.
Risks and Complications of Otoplasty
Complications from surgery are rare and usually minor. A small percentage of otoplasty patients develop a blood clot on the ear or an infection in the cartilage. These issues may resolve on their own or be treated medically through intervention or antibiotics. Other possible complications include a change in skin sensation at the surgical site.
There is also a possibility that a patient will not be satisfied with the appearance of the ears post-surgery. A patient should not expect the ears to match exactly as natural ears are not even entirely symmetrical.