Ear Re-shaping (Otoplasty or Pinnaplasty)

Ear reshaping is a type of cosmetic surgery used to treat protruding ears. The operation is also known as otoplasty or pinnaplasty.  Surgery to reshape the ears involves remodelling the cartilage to create the missing folds and position the ear closer to the head

What happens?

Surgery involving older children and adults can be carried out under local anaesthetic. This means the affected area is numbed so no pain or discomfort is felt during the procedure. Younger children may need a general anaesthetic, which means they are unconscious during the procedure.

During surgery, a small cut is made behind the ear to expose the ear cartilage. The cartilage is repositioned and shaped by removing small pieces, then scoring and stitching the remaining structure into the desired shape and position.

The length of time it takes depends on the complexity of each case. However, the procedure generally takes one to two hours.

After the otoplasty/pinnaplasty, a bandage may be wrapped around your head to protect your ears and the surrounding area from infection. Depending on your progress, the bandage may need to be kept in place for up to a week after the operation. During this time, you must not wash your hair. You will be able to wash your hair after the bandage has been removed, but avoid getting the affected area wet.

Most children can return to school after one to two weeks. Adults can usually return to work after a week. While you are recovering from surgery you will need to avoid:

• swimming for up to eight weeks after surgery
• sports or activities that put your ears at risk of injury, such as judo or rugby, for up to 12 weeks after surgery

After surgery, a small scar may be noticeable behind each ear, however they will fade over time.

What are the risks?

Ear reshaping surgery is a safe procedure. However, as with all types of surgery, there is a small risk of complications:

• Infection where the cut was made
• Inflammation of the ear cartilage (chondritis)
• Scarring behind the ears.
• Recurrence – in 5% of cases, the ears continue to protrude.
• Unsatisfactory appearance.
• Mild bruising around the ears
• Numbness over the ears
• Stiff ears
• Soreness
• Problems with stitches

Discuss any concerns you have with your surgeon.