What is Ear Reshaping Surgery

Ear reshaping surgery, also known as Otoplasty, refers to a range of common cosmetic surgery procedures designed to correct the size and shape of the ear and earlobe.

Typical procedures include:

  • Pinnaplasty - to pin back the ears
  • Ear Reduction - to reduce the size of the ears
  • Ear Correction – to correct deformities caused at birth or by trauma (e.g. by piercing, surgery or cancer)

Ear surgery can be used to treat many other ear deformities or abnormalities, such as to:

  • Reduce large or overstretched earlobes (caused by earrings or ‘ear stretching’) 
  • Reshape cartilage ears that have an unnatural shape 
  • Increase the size of a very small ear
  • Rebuild new ears, e.g. if born without an ear or earlobe 
  • Smooth wrinkles or large creases 

Otoplasty is a safe and effective surgery that can improve the function and appearance of the ear, as well as improving the patients' self-image.

Otoplasty surgery can be performed on children as young as age 6, as this is often the ideal age to correct the ears as they are still growing and developing.

What are the benefits of Ear Reshaping surgery?

The ears are a prominent feature of the face and having the ears in the right size, shape and position can have a major impact on the overall balance and aesthetic impact of the facial appearance.

Benefits can include:

  • Improve the size, shape and position of the ear
  • Improve ear proportions and restore symmetry
  • Restore defective ear structure present at birth
  • Correct misshapen ears 
  • Improve emotional wellbeing & self-esteem

Who is suitable for Ear Reshaping surgery?

Many people find that they are unhappy with the shape, size or position of their ears. This can cause them to feel self-conscious about their appearance, and serious psychological distress.

Candidates who might be suitable for ear reshaping surgery include those who have:

  • Prominent or protruding ears
  • Asymmetrical ears
  • Oversized or disproportionate ear size
  • Damaged or extended ear lobes 
  • Reduced self-esteem due to ear shape or size
  • Unsatisfying results from a previous ear pinning

Before & Afters

Otoplasty Results

Click here to view our gallery of Before & Afters and Otoplasty results

What to Expect

CONSULTATION 

The first step for all of our otoplasty patients is to meet with the surgeon we feel is best placed to perform your procedure for a consultation. At the consultation you will be able to discuss with your surgeon what your hope to achieve from the procedure, as well as discuss in detail what may or may not be possible given your existing anatomy.

Your surgeon will take you through the options available to you, and which is the most preferential for you given your stated ambitions. Having established this, several key measurements will be made and standard clinical photography will be taken.

Some common questions to ask at your otoplasty consultation include:

  • How many procedures of this type have you performed?
  • Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
  • What technique will you use to get the best results?
  • Do you have before-and-after photos I can look at for each procedure and what are reasonable results?
  • What are my options if I am dissatisfied with the outcome of my ear surgery?

Finally a comprehensive discussion regarding risks and complications will take place, alongside a discussion regarding what to expect in the post procedure and recovery phase. Your previous medical history will also be recorded (including previous surgery, medications, allergies etc.) and an assessment of your fitness for surgery.

If your surgeon feels you are a good candidate for surgery, you are then invited to consider whether you would like to proceed for surgery or otherwise following a two week 'cooling off' period.

Within this period you are welcome to come in and discuss your potential surgery with your surgeon as many times as you like.

PRE – PROCEDURE

If you choose to proceed with surgery, the next time you come into the Clinic after your final consultation will be the day of your procedure. Before admission the following behavioural changes are recommended / required:

  • In the 6 weeks before your procedure we recommend smoking is discontinued as patients who smoke have a higher risk of healing more slowly and complications 
  • In the week before your procedure you must cease taking Aspirin or any medication that contains Aspirin
  • In the 6 hours prior to surgery you must not consume food or any drink, other than small sips of clear fluid (e.g. still water, black coffee, black tea) which are allowed up to 2 hours before admission

DAY OF THE PROCEDURE

On the day of your procedure we ask that you arrive for your admission an hour before the agreed start time of surgery. At this point a nurse will come and record blood pressure and other relevant vitals, you will meet with your anaesthetist and your surgeon who will make the final mark-ups.

The procedure itself typically takes place under local anaesthetic over the course of one to two hours. First you will receive some anaesthesia in the ear region, then incisions will be made in several discrete areas, typically in the folds of the ear or on the back surface behind the ear.

Your surgeon will make a cut at the back of your ear and peel off some skin from the cartilage. They will change the shape of the cartilage so your ear lies closer to your head. If your ears are not symmetrical (evenly shaped on both sides) you surgeon may correct this as well. The technique they choose to use depends on the goals specific to your ear pinning procedure. After your surgeon reshapes the cartilage, they will secure it into its new position with permanent sutures. They will then close the wound discretely with stitches and apply a tight bandage around your head to stabilise the ears in their new position.

Any scarring should be well hidden behind the ear.

POST PROCEDURE & RECOVERY

You should not feel much pain during the procedure, but you may have some for a few days or weeks afterwards. You'll be given painkillers if you need them.

Following the procedure, you will recover in our ambulatory recovery rooms for between one to two hours, dependent on the scale of the procedure. You will be wearing a head bandage to aid with your recovery.

Once our specialist nursing team are happy that your initial recovery is complete and you are safe to return home, you will be allowed to leave the Clinic accompanied by a friend or member of your family.

Once home you will have access to our dedicated on-call nursing team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This team of specialists are dedicated to your comfort and pain control, and are there to field any questions you may have in the immediate post operative phase.

We ask that you come in and see our nursing team 1 week after surgery to ensure your incision sites have been properly reviewed. At this juncture we also recommend you meet with one of our on site aestheticians to discuss ongoing treatment to support the healing and scarring process.

We ask that you come in to see your surgeon after 4 weeks for a final check up.

Frequently Asked Questions

You are suitable for Ear Reshaping surgery if you are:

+ Over 5 years old (when the ear cartilage is stable enough for correction)
+ Healthy individual with realistic expectations of what surgery can achieve
+ Do not have chronic or untreated ear infection

Surgery is typically performed under local anaesthetic, and can be completed in an hour or less.

There are many different techniques depending on whether your ear is being reshaped, resized or repositioned.

If your surgeon is aiming to pin your ears back closer to your head, your surgeon will start by making an incision along the crease-line behind your ear and remove any excess cartilage that is causing it to protrude. The ear is then pinned back along the fold to its new position, closer to the head.

Following the surgery, the area will be stitched up and a dressing wrapped around your head to support the cartilage in its new place.

Surgery is typically no longer than an hour. In complex cases, it may take a little while longer but no more than 2 hours.

The procedure itself takes place under local anaesthetic so you will be comfortable and not feel any pain.

Most patients only have minor pain and discomfort during the days following the ear reshaping surgery, this can be controlled with over the counter medications such as paracetamol and anti-inflammatory tablets.

Ears can be tender for 1-2 weeks following the initial surgery if the patient bumps their ear. However, by this time most patients are pain-free.

Yes, ear reshaping surgery results are generally permanent.

As long as you take care of your ears during the recovery period there should be no reason why your ears revert to their original position.

You should see results from your surgery almost immediately, but typically we recommend waiting for between 1 and 2 weeks to allow any bruising or swelling to subside, before you can expect to see your full results

We regard the healing cartilage like a healing bone and need to splint the ear in its new position as it heals.

We therefore provide all patients with a head bandage after surgery that must be worn for between 5 – 7 days.

If the surgery does not involve the cartilage, then a head bandage is not a requirement and the stitches can be masked with simple tape.

There is very little downtime after ear reshaping surgery.

We recommend you take a week off work, during which time you will need to wear a head bandage day and night to support the wound.

Your ears may be a little bruised and swollen during this time, and you will need to keep wearing the bandage support at night for at least 3 weeks.

Any discomfort is easily managed with painkillers, and normal washing and bathing is possible within a week.

You should make a full recovery anywhere between 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.

There should be no visible scarring following your ear reshaping surgery. This is because the incisions should be skilfully placed in the natural folds and lines of the ears or behind it, to ensure no scarring will be seen.

Otoplasty and Pinnaplasty are two technical names that are used interchangeably to reference cosmetic ear reshaping surgery.

You will need to wear a headband for 5 to 7 days to ensure your ears are maintained in the correct position post-surgery, and for up to a month at night after surgery whilst you are sleeping.

You can therefore expect to be wearing your glasses after 3 weeks after surgery, but can take longer. You should therefore consider buying prescription contact lenses for this time period.

It is extremely unlikely that an ear pinning procedure will affect your hearing.

The ear is made up of 3 parts: the outer ear (the pinna), the middle ear and the inner ear. All 3 parts contribute to hearing, but it is mainly the middle and inner ear that affect it.

Otoplasty surgery only concerns the outer ear so it is very unlikely that surgery to this area will affect your hearing.

Ear correction surgery may be possible on the NHS, particularly for children who need it for therapeutic (medical) reasons.

Cosmetic ear reshaping surgery is not possible on the NHS, except in very rare circumstances where severe psychological distress can be evidenced.

Although prominent or abnormal ears do not cause any hearing difficulties, they can be a source of bullying for children. It is therefore quite common for children to have an ear pinning.

Children should be 6 years of age or older since at this point the ears have fully matured. It is also preferable to wait for an age when a child is able to express their unhappiness with their appearance, and personally wish to have the position or shape of their ears corrected.

There are no differences in the surgical techniques used for children and adults, although children are more likely to have the procedure done under a general anaesthetic.

Otoplasty is minor surgery and complications are typically those associated with such surgery. This can include:

+ Asymmetry
+ Bleeding and bruising is the most common risk and there is always some swelling. The purpose of the head bandage is to reduce this risk and speed healing.
+ Scarring - scars are typically behind the ear and not visilbe, but on occasions, these scars can become hypertrophic, that is raised and pink, gradually resolving over some months, or even keloid with scars that continue to grow to the point where they may become visible. We can mitigate this with the Cadogan Clinic scar treatment
+ Infection and necrosis (loss of tissue)
+ Numbness
+ Re-protrusion
+ Stiffness of the ear

ENQUIRE NOW

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