Otoplasty (ear surgery)

Otoplasty Surgery by Dr. Jane Namkung at Tri Valley Plastic SurgeryActual Patient
A surgical procedure designed to improve the symmetry of the ears and where appropriate to improve the appearance by reducing projection.
Length of Surgery 1-2 hours
Length Of Procedure Usually Out patient
Anesthesia General or Local
of results
Permanent improvement

Otoplasty (ear pinning, ear surgery) cosmetic surgery procedures are designed to reshape ear structures, improve your natural appearance and improve symmetry. The surgeons at Tri Valley Plastic Surgery are expert at creating a natural look and improving areas the shape and projection of patient's ears. Typically patients who seek this type of surgery have been struggling with the appearance of their ears all their life and typically do things to hide the appearance of their ears. There are straight-forward procedures to improve these issues.

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Am I a candidate for otoplasty (ear pinning) surgery?

The goal of an otoplasty is to improve shape and symmetry of the ears. It is designed to correct ears that stick out too much or are too large or too small or malpositioned. An Otoplasty can make a significant difference in a persons appearance and as with any procedure, is a highly individual decision.

You may be a suitable candidate for an Otoplasty procedure if you are unhappy with how your ears look. If you are concerned with any of the following, you may benefit from an otoplasty:

  1. Ears stick out too much
  2. Ears are asymmetric
  3. Earlobes have torn piercings.
  4. Earlobes are saggy

Certain factors affect whether you are a suitable candidate for an otoplasty procedure:

  1. Do you smoke?
  2. Are you physically and emotionally healthy?
  3. Do you have realistic expectations of what otoplasty surgery could do for you?

What is an otoplasty procedure?

An otoplasty (or ear pinning or ear surgery), changes the skin or cartilage to reshape one or both ears. Ears may have undesirable shape since birth or from trauma.

Dr. Williams and the Tri Valley Plastic Surgery team specialize in creating a natural looking ears that have good symmetry.

Preparing for otoplasty (ear) surgery

The Tri Valley Plastic Surgery team will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for your otoplasty (ear) procedure, including guidelines on eating, drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications.

If you smoke, you will be asked to stop at least two months before otoplasty, as smoking inhibits blood flow to the skin. Patients who smoke take longer to heal and can have serious wound healing complications. Patients usually must also avoid taking painkillers containing aspirin or ibuprofen two weeks before surgery.

Otoplasty surgery procedure steps

An otoplasty operation takes one to two hours and is performed under general anesthesia or under local anesthesia, although intravenous sedation can be used in some situations. The Tri Valley Plastic Surgery team will discuss the options with you and recommend the best anesthesia for you. Ear surgery procedure is always tailored to your specific needs and anatomy.

Step 1 – Anesthesia

IV medication is used to induce general anesthesia. In addition, local numbing medication is always injected to give you post-operative pain control.

Step 2 – The incision
  1. There are multiple incision techniques that the surgeons at Tri Valley Plastic Surgery may use when you have an otoplasty. These depend on the degree of change you’d like to see and the problem areas. We always strive for the smallest possible scar to give you the look you want.
Step 3 – The sutures

Absorbable and non-absorbable sutures are used on the incisions that are typically behind the ears. These incisions are usually very well hidden. Once the surgery is complete, dressings are placed.

Step 4 – The results
  1. When you wake up after your otoplasty you will have dressings and bandages covering your ears. You will be given painkillers, although you should only feel mild to moderate pain after an otoplasty procedure.
  2. There will swelling over your ears, which will subside after a short time.

Face lift surgery recovery and healing steps

Otoplasty recovery times vary from patient to patient. The injected numbing medicine typically keeps our patients comfortable in the first twelve hours, after which prescribed medication or Tylenol can minimize discomfort.

The swelling will be at its worst two to three days after Face Lift surgery. Sleeping upright supported by pillows will help in reducing swelling. Cool compresses can also help, however great care should be taken to not put ice or anything too cold directly on your skin as you will still have some numbness and may not feel things that are too cold. Patients of Face Lift surgery are recommended to rest as much as possible the first week, keep your incision sites as dry as possible, and avoid closed-neck clothing to prevent contact on your head and face.

Some numbness, swelling, and bruising of the skin is likely to last for up to two weeks after the surgery.

After five to ten days, your stitches and drains will be removed, and a few days later you should start seeing the results of the face lift. Five to fourteen days after the face lift procedure, you will start to look and feel better. Visible swelling should go down after four to six weeks. You should avoid any strenuous activity during this time. You will probably feel numbness in your face for a few weeks.

Dr. Williams and the Tri Valley Plastic Surgery team will give you a check list and a precautions list for your recovery.

It may take several months for swelling to fully dissipate and up to six months to a year for incision lines to mature. Maintaining or adopting a healthy lifestyle and wearing a high SPF sunscreen whenever you go out will help to extend the results of your face lift. You will see the end result of your Face Lift approximately six to nine months after your Face Lift operation.

Otoplasty (ear pinning) side effects and surgery risks

Otoplasty complications are infrequent and usually minor. Otoplasty procedures are commonly performed and generally safe. The possibility of risks and complications depend on each patient's anatomy, their physical reactions, and their healing abilities. As with any surgery, the outcome is never completely predictable.

Common Otoplasty side effects include:

  1. Soreness, swelling and bruising which can last up to a month
  2. Scarring which usually fades over the course of a year, but won't completely disappear
  3. Asymmetry between ears - everyone has some asymmetry - your asymmetry should improve but it is impossible to achieve complete symmetry.

Complications that may arise as a result of an otoplasty operation are:

  1. Unfavorable scarring
  2. Bleeding (hematoma)
  3. Infection
  4. Poor wound healing
  5. Allergic reaction to the anesthesia
  6. Facial nerve injury with weakness
  7. Asymmetry
  8. Skin loss
  9. Numbness
  10. Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis)
  11. Fluid accumulation
  12. Pain which may persist
  13. Skin contour irregularities
  14. Skin discoloration, sensitivity or swelling
  15. Unsatisfactory surgical scar location
  16. Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
  17. Possibility of revisional surgery

It's possible that you may not be completely satisfied with your appearance after the operation.

The exact risks are specific to you and differ for every person, so if you have any concerns or worries about an otoplasty procedure and the risks and side effects involved, the professionals at Tri Valley Plastic Surgery will take time to explain how they may apply to you.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) American Board of Plastic Surgery Yale University Plastic Surgery Yale School of Medicine American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Expert Reviewer of California Medical Board