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Pinnaplasty (Ear Correction)


Pinnaplasty (Otoplasty or cosmetic ear surgery) background information

Cosmetic ear surgery or pinnaplasty can be performed to reshape the ears in many different ways. The most common procedure is to correct ears, which stick out by setting them back closer to the head. Cosmetic ear surgery can also reduce large ears, reshape the cartilage in ears with unnatural shapes, or increase the size of very small ears. Surgery can also reduce large or stretched earlobes, or large creases and wrinkles in the ear.

Pinnaplasty is commonly performed on children between 5 and 14 years of age, and when considering otoplasty, parents must be confident that they have their child’s best interests at heart. For instance, the timing of the operation is always an important part of the decision. Having the procedure at a young age is highly desirable and recommended in two respects. First, the cartilage is extremely soft, so it can be reshaped quite easily and second, the child will experience psychological benefits from the cosmetic improvement and feel better about themselves and their appearance.

Adults who have otoplasty should understand that the firmer cartilage of their fully-grown ears will not be as easily moulded as in children.

If you’re considering an otoplasty for yourself or your child, the following information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure for correcting ears that stick out unnaturally. It can’t answer all your questions, since a lot depends on the individual patient and the surgeon.

What happens during an Pinnaplasty operation?

Careful discussions regarding the reasons for  cosmetic ear surgery are very important . Make sure that you obtain as much information as is necessary to enable you to make a fully informed decision about whether to go ahead with the surgery and feel comfortable about the operation.

You will then be given time to consider fully all the implications of the proposed surgery and a second out-patient appointment will be only be made if you have elected to proceed with surgery. (If you are still not completely sure a further consultation appointment can be arranged.)  At the next appointment, you would sign a consent form, which means that you have understood the future benefits and possible risks associated with the procedure.  Photographs of your ears will be taken for clinical records and stored securely under data protection laws, also they remain “medical in confidence”.

We will take a medical history, to make sure that there are no reasons why you shouldn’t have an pinnaplasty.

We will probably write  to your G.P. giving details of the operation so that if there are any problems associated with it in the short or long-term, the G.P. is aware of the surgery and can help you if you require any further treatment after the operation.


The operation can be performed under a general or local anaesthetic. As in any surgical procedure, the use of a general anaesthetic carries a small additional risk that Mr Mellor will discuss with you. Precautions will be taken to reduce the small risk of deep vein thrombosis.

The operation

The procedure can take between 1 – 2 hours.  Surgery begins with an incision just behind the ear, in the natural fold where the ear is joined to the head.   The necessary amount of cartilage and skin required to achieve the right effect is removed . In some cases, it is necessary to also trim the cartilage, shaping it into a more attractive form and then pin the cartilage back with stitches that remain permanently.

The initial cut is then closed, with stitches, and bandages are placed around the head to cover the ears and is worn for 1 week.

How long will it take to recover from cosmetic ear surgery?

Most patients find that they can go back to work or school after one week. It is usually around a couple of months before normal contact sport activities can be resumed.

What are the risks and potential complications from Pinnaplasty surgery?

Ears will be sore and tender immediately following an pinnaplasty or cosmetic ear surgery operation, with some mild bruising and swelling.Odd sensations of “tightness”, or “pulling”, of the ears may be noticed during healing, but these usually disappear after a week or so.Other rarer risks or side effects include bleeding underneath the skin, infection and sometimes skin numbness that can occasionally be permanent.There will be a thin white scar afterwards which is rarely noticeable as it is hidden in the ear crease. Occasionally, however, excess scar tissue can form and this can appear quite lumpy.  This may need revision later.There is also the possibility of slightly lop-sided ears which may require another operation to put it right.

What should you do after an Pinnaplasty operation?

It is very important that you follow the advice of our surgical team carefully after your treatment.Post – surgery advice:

  • using recommended painkillers as required;
  • for the first few days after the operation, the patient should sleep in bed with the head in a raised position;
  • reminding yourself (or children) not to touch the ears throughout the healing process as bending them forward in the first few months after the surgery can destroy even the finest surgical result;
  • bandages will be removed in about 7 days;
  • you should sleep in a sports head band for 6 weeks post surgery to avoid lying directly on the ears
  • avoiding all sports and physical activity for at least 6 weeks to prevent the permanent stitches from breaking open during the recovery period;
  • contacting our team immediately if you notice any signs of infection or if you experience increased bleeding or a sudden increase in pain.

Summary of advice for Pinnaplasty

You should have realistic expectations of an otoplasty or cosmetic ear operation and accept that there are limits as to what ear surgery can achieve physically and emotionally for you or your child.Most patients who go into the surgery with this positive attitude experience a successful outcome following an otoplasty procedure. Before you have this surgery, you should realise that most people’s ears are not perfectly symmetrical or perfect to begin with.Also, although the results are usually permanent, there is always some small amount of forward movement of the ears after the operation. This is because ear cartilage is very elastic and so the ears will move naturally.


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