Ear Pinning SurgeryEars which stick outward prominently from the head can cause overwhelming emotional stress and self-consciousness, especially in children. Often hereditary, this condition is typically caused by insufficient folding inside the outer rim of the ear, excessive cartilage along the back of the ear where it connects to the head, or a combination of the two. Otoplasty will not improve any existing hearing problems, nor will it change the size of the ears or make them perfectly symmetrical. The procedure can, however, reposition one or both ears back against the head in a more natural-looking position.
Otoplasty is one of very few cosmetic procedures that can be performed safely early in life—as young as age five or six, when the ears reach full development. Children often become aware of the condition when they enter school and are subjected to teasing. Just as orthodontic treatment is commonly sought today in correcting poor tooth alignment, so should otoplasty in improving poor positioning of the ears.
Otoplasty takes 1-1/2 to 3 hours, depending on the extent of correction being made, and is performed on an outpatient basis under local or general anesthesia. To add soft folding inside the outer rim of the ear, the doctor may make an incision along the natural crease in the back of the ear; remove skin to expose underlying cartilage; then reshape the cartilage, either by suturing directly or by first excising a portion of it. If the additional folding required is minimal, he may make a small incision along the interior side of the ear, "score" the cartilage to weaken it, then stitch the back of the ear closer to the head. Small bandages are placed over the incisions, and a bulky dressing is wrapped around the head to keep the ears clean and dry while stabilizing their new position.
The dressing and bandages are removed in 7 to 10 days; after which you will need to wear an elastic headband at night for at least six weeks to safeguard against possible injury and shifting of the ears during sleep. The sutures should simply dissolve within two to four weeks. Redness, mild stinging and a dull achiness are common over the first few days. For the most part, however, otoplasty causes minimal swelling, bruising and pain, which can easily be controlled with cold compresses, head elevation and medication.
You may experience numbness and an increased sensitivity to cold following surgery. This can last anywhere from a few months to a year; so it is recommended that you wear a hat, scarf or other protective garment until it subsides. Patients typically return to work, school and limited light activity once the dressing is removed. Because the ears will be sensitive and susceptible to injury initially, it is important to avoid vigorous motion and contact sports for four to eight weeks.