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Ear Pinning

What is ear pinning?

Ear surgery (otoplasty) is a type of cosmetic plastic surgery procedure. It improves the shape, position, or proportion of the ear. Ear pinning is aimed at setting prominent ears closer to the head, or reducing the size of larger ears. But other ear problems can also be helped with this type of plastic surgery. Surgeons can even build new ears for those who were born without them or who lost them through injury.

Who are candidates for ear pinning?

Otoplasty is usually done on children between the ages of 5 and 6. But it's also done for adults.

Possible complications linked to ear pinning

Possible complications linked to ear pinning may include:

  • Blood clots on the ears

  • Infection in the cartilage, which can cause scar tissue to form

  • Recurrence of the prominent ears (the risk is higher in adults than children)

About the procedure

Although each procedure varies, generally, ear pinning surgeries alter the cartilage just behind the ear. In some cases, cartilage and skin might be removed. In other cases, stitches are used to hold the cartilage permanently in place.

Where the procedure may be done

  • Surgeon's office-based surgical facility

  • Outpatient surgery center

  • Hospital outpatient

  • Hospital inpatient

Anesthesia choices

  • General anesthesia for children

  • Local anesthesia combined with a sedative for adults, which lets the person remain awake but relaxed

How long will it take?

  • Several hours or longer

Some possible short-term side effects of surgery

  • Throbbing in the ears

  • Aching or mild discomfort

To avoid putting pressure on your ears, you may not be able to sleep on your side. You may need to wear a headband for several weeks.

Medical Reviewers:

  • David Lickstein MD
  • Ronald Karlin MD
  • Tara Novick BSN MSN