Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)

Otoplasty is a type of cosmetic ear surgery that is also commonly referred to as "ear pinning". Otoplasty surgery can significantly improve the appearance of the ears, and can be performed on both children and adults, as long as the ears are fully mature. Aside from the physical benefits of the procedure, otoplasty can also improve overall self-esteem and confidence in patients young and old. Here at the Emory Aesthetic Center, we offer this surgery for adult patients.

Many people with protruding or misshapen ears are extremely self-conscious about the problem, and otoplasty can be a great solution for this insecurity. People that have had an otoplasty feel that they can wear their hair short or wear it up, so that the ears are more visible. Otoplasty can accomplish a number of aesthetic goals, depending on the type of abnormality that is being addressed. A sample of the abnormalities treated with otoplasty surgery include:

Large and/or Protruding Ears

This is by far the most common reason that people seek otoplasty surgery. Large and protruding ears often go hand in hand, and can be a source of embarrassment for those who have them. Otoplasty can reduce the size of the ears and pull them in toward the head for a more proportional appearance.

Abnormally Large or Split Earlobes

Earlobes can start out large, or they can become saggy over time, even splitting due to age or years of wearing heavy earrings. A simple surgery can repair, re-size, and re-contour the earlobes for a tighter, more proportional, and normal appearance.

Lop Ear

The "lop ear" deformity describes ears that fold over at the top and tilt forward. This deformity does not affect the hearing, but it can be a source of embarrassment. Otoplasty can be used to reshape the ear cartilage, and address any other aesthetic problems that may accompany the lop ear deformity.

Otoplasty Consultation

If you think that otoplasty could help you, schedule a consultation at Emory Aesthetic Center in Atlanta to meet with one of our expert cosmetic surgeons. During the consultation, our surgeons will make sure candidacy requirements are met, and evaluate the ears. If otoplasty is a good fit, you will have the opportunity to learn more about the procedure and recovery period, as well as ask any questions you may have about the surgery. Our surgeons will talk you through the process and give you honest advice about meeting your goals. Here at the Emory Aesthetic Center, we offer this surgery for adult patients.

Otoplasty Candidates

Candidates for the procedure should have prominent or large ears or another cosmetic deformity that causes embarrassment or self-consciousness. Otoplasty candidates should be in general good health and have realistic expectations for the surgery. There will be a recovery period following the surgery, and patients will need to have the time to concentrate on healing properly.

Otoplasty Procedure

Cosmetic ear surgery typically takes one to two hours. For adults it can be performed under local or general anesthesia on an outpatient basis. However, earlobe repair can generally be performed under local anesthesia and may take less time than a full otoplasty procedure.

The first step in an otoplasty is the incision. Our skilled cosmetic surgeons make these incisions behind the ear in an inconspicuous location so as to prevent unsightly visible scars. Once this incision is made, cartilage will be removed and repositioned to draw the ears closer to the head or reshape them as necessary. The skin will then be tightened to draw over the new contours of the ear before sutures are placed. A head wrap is then put into place to protect the ears.

Otoplasty Recovery

Following surgery, patients will need to leave the head wrap in place until removed by the surgeon. Once the initial wrap is removed, however, patients are usually asked to wear a headband for several weeks to help protect the ears as they heal. Typically, patients can go back to work and other normal activities starting at about one to two weeks after surgery.

Some discomfort can be expected during recovery, but medication will be prescribed to help control pain during this time. Patients will receive detailed instructions on post-operative care, which should be followed as closely as possible. Strenuous activity, including exercise and heavy lifting, will need to be postponed until instructed that it is safe.

Otoplasty FAQs

How visible will scarring be after otoplasty?

Incisions are made in an inconspicuous location behind the ears to minimize the appearance of scarring.

Can I wear glasses after otoplasty?

As glasses rest on the tops of the ears, patients will need to refrain from wearing any type frames for several weeks, while the ears heal. The exact length of time will vary, and your surgeon will let you know how long you should wait before you can wear your prescription and sunglasses again.

What are the risks of otoplasty surgery?

While complications from otoplasty surgery are rare, all surgery carries some risk. Minimize your risk by ensuring you are a good candidate for the procedure, choosing the right surgeon, and following all of your surgeon's instructions as closely as possible. Otoplasty risks can include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Reactions to anesthesia
  • Unfavorable scarring
  • Blood clot
  • Asymmetry
  • Poor aesthetic results
  • Deformity or absorption of the ear cartilage

Can an otoplasty affect hearing?

Otoplasty involves the outer ear, which has only a small role in the way the ear processes sound. It is extremely rare for the procedure to affect the hearing, and our skilled cosmetic surgeons have the knowledge and experience to avoid unfavorable complications such as this.

Will the ears actually be pinned during ear pinning?

No; ear pinning is a bit of a misnomer. The cartilage of the ear is reshaped and pulled in closer to the head. Sutures are then put in place to keep the ear in its new position while the incision heals. Otoplasty is a reshaping procedure rather than a "pinning" procedure.

When will the final results be apparent?

While the last of the swelling may take six months or more to subside, most patients see their final results between three to six months after surgery. However, many of the cosmetic benefits of ear surgery can be seen very soon after the procedure.

Will I need to have someone to stay with me after ear surgery?

Though the procedure is generally performed on an outpatient basis, you will need to have someone drive you home after the surgery. Once you are back home, it is helpful to have a loved one or friend nearby to help you through the first few days of recovery.

How Can We Help You Today?

Need help? We will be delighted to assist you today, so please call us at 404-778-6880. We look forward to hearing from you.