Ear Pinning Surgery

Over the past few years, ear pinning surgery has become one of the most requested cosmetic procedures in both the United States and around the world. Technically referred to as otoplasty, this procedure can permanently enhance the appearance of the external ear; projection, earlobe shape, deformed cartilage, etc.

How does ear pinning surgery work?
Despite this nickname, the procedure actually does not involve pinning back the ears. Rather what happens is the otoplasty surgeon will make an incision in back of the ear, along the crease. To decrease the projection, he will typically remove a small sliver of cartilage from this area. He will then re-suture the remaining cartilage back together. This results in the ears sitting closer to the sides of your head. Sometimes, only sutures are necessary and there is no need for removing any cartilage.

Why undergo ear pinning surgery?
Some people just want a subtle improvement in their ears. However if you’re like me, the reasons may run much deeper. Growing up, I was constantly teased for my large ears. Being called names like “Dumbo ears” in school wrecked havoc on my self-esteem. When I found out that there was ear pinning surgery (otoplasty) which could change all this, I knew it would be something right up my alley.

At what ages can one undergo ear pinning surgery?
First of all I would like to make it clear that I am not a medical professional, so you will need to speak with an ear plastic surgeon to find out whether this procedure is appropriate for you. That being said, let’s talk about when this procedure is typically done:

Childhood Ear Pinning Surgery
Ideally, the best time for plastic surgery ear pinning is between 2-5 years old. Therefore, the child won’t have to suffer the ridicule of having big ears when they start school. For this reason, many types of insurance will actually cover ear pinning for toddlers. Unfortunately after the age of 5 or 6, it’s virtually impossible to get this procedure covered.

Teen Ear Pinning Surgery
If the opportunity to address this issue wasn’t taken up earlier, the next best time to do it is during the early teen years. Why? Because the earlier otoplasty is done, typically the more natural it will look.

Adult Ear Pinning Surgery
Adults of nearly any age, assuming they are in appropriate health to undergo ear pinning plastic surgery, can be candidates for this procedure. However, otoplasty on adults is much more difficult. Many plastic surgeons over-correct the projection, resulting in “alien” ears which sit unnaturally close to the head.

One Last Piece of Important Advice
If you are an adult considering ear pinning surgery, it’s absolutely crucial that you pick a plastic surgeon that specializes in this procedure, even if that means looking outside your area. Most surgeons have a tendency to over correct, so going with an otoplasty surgeon specialist should reduce the chances of this occurring. Remember, with ear pinning surgery, less is always more! Emphasize to your surgeon that you only want a very subtle change… because removing just a tiny sliver of cartilage at the base of the ear, will result in a significant change in projection on the outer tip of the ear.