A close up of a little boy smiling in front of a wall.
A close up of a little boy smiling in front of a wall.
A close up of a little boy smiling in front of a wall.

Ear Pinning

What is ear pinning?

Ear pinning is surgery to angle the ears closer to the head to make them less prominent. Typically, a surgeon will perform this surgery on children aged 5 or 6, but occasionally adults choose to undergo ear pinning for cosmetic reasons.

Ear pinning is one example of otoplasty, which is surgery on the outer, visible parts of the ear. Otoplasty can rebuild absent, misshapen or damaged ears, or reduce the size of large ears.

Consulting a Plastic Surgeon for Ear Pinning

It is important to consult with an expert plastic surgeon who specializes in surgery of the outer ear, especially if the prospective patient is a child. Skilled surgery addresses protruding ears without leaving the patient with an artificially tight appearance.

For an adult’s consultation for a possible ear pinning, the surgeon will ask the person about:

  • Medical history and physical health , including:

    • A history of smoking

    • Cardiovascular disease

    • Diabetes

    • High blood pressure or other circulatory disorders

    • An unusual tendency to scar

    • Any disorders related to blood clotting

  • Skin type, ethnic background and age

  • Attitude and expectations

In addition, the surgeon will explain:

  • What the person can expect from the procedure

  • Where the surgery will take place

  • Recommendations for anesthesia

  • Possible complications

  • Other recommended procedures

Ear Pinning Surgery: Procedure and Care

Otoplastic surgery for ear pinning can take place in the surgeon’s office-based surgical facility, an outpatient surgery center or in a hospital.

The surgeon will ensure the person is comfortable during the procedure by using anesthesia . The surgeon may opt for a general anesthesia that causes a deep sleep during the surgery, or a combination of sedative medications and local anesthesia, which allows the patient to remain awake but relaxed throughout the procedure.

The incision for ear pinning is usually on the back surface of the ear. If an incision on the front of the ear is necessary, the surgeon has ways to hide the scars within the folds of the ear’s structure so they are not obvious. The surgeon secures the cartilage with sutures (stitches).

Recovery from Ear Pinning

When the person goes home, there will be a bandage covering the operative ear, along with a compression dressing that holds the restructured ear in place. The bandage stays in place for one week.

Once the bandage comes off, patients can gently wash their face and hair. Doctors’ instructions will clarify how to clean the wound area with a cotton swab and protect the incision with antibiotic ointment.

The person should be prepared not to wear glasses or earrings for three weeks. Slight swelling, itching and numbness are common after ear pinning surgery and resolve on their own in a few weeks.

The surgeon may recommend wearing a supportive elastic headband at night for six weeks after surgery and wearing the band during the day when possible.

It is extremely important to follow the surgeon’s postsurgery instructions carefully , especially:

  • Avoid certain activities and environments.

  • Alert your surgery team immediately in the event of any problem or unexpected change, especially severe pain in the surgical area.

  • Keep follow-up appointments.

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