Otoplasty / Ear Pinning

Otoplasty / Ear PInning

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Surgery to the external ear (pinna) designed to improve the shape and position of the ear.


One of the few cosmetic procedures done in children, usually pre-school at around 5-6 years or age, although it can be done in younger children, older children or adults. The ears are typically too prominent, and protrude away from the head. These kids may be teased by their peers and become self conscious about their appearance.


The normal ear has specific and characteristic folds and curves, and is positioned quite close to the head. Of interest in otoplasty, is the degree of development of the anti-helix (curve / fold just inside the outer margin of the ear) and the angle between the concha (bowl of the ear) and the mastoid (bone behind the ear on the skull).


Whilst adults and older children will often tolerate the operation under local anaesthetic, younger kids require a light general anaesthetic to facilitate the surgery. Once asleep, cuts are made behind the ear and a small amount of skin may be removed. 


The cartilage deformity is then identified, and corrected using a combination of permanent sutures and scoring to achieve the desired contours. Sutures are also usually placed to bring the entire ear a little closer to the skull. The skin is then closed and a bulky dressing and head band is applied for about 5 days. A head band is then worn at night for a further 2 weeks to protect the repair. This is always done as a day case procedure and may take 1-3 hours depending on the nature and complexity of the deformity.

The results are usually good to excellent and are generally permanent, although some recurrence of the deformity is possible. Other potential complications include bleeding, infection, and asymmetry between the 2 sides.  

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