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Pin Back Ears (Otoplasty or Pinnaplasty)

Otoplasty is a surgical procedure to pin back prominent ears so that they lie closer to the head. This surgery is often performed on children, who may have to put up with teasing. However, the operation can also be performed successfully on adults.

What happens during the operation?

Usuallly the surgeon will make an incision at the back of the ear to expose the cartilage. The cartilage is then reshaped to bend the ear back towards the head. This may involve removing a piece of cartilage or stitching it into its new position. The procedure leaves a small scar behind the ear. This operation can be performed under local anaesthetic with or without a sedative, although in young children a general anaesthetic may be preferable.

pin back ears - before photo
pin back ears - after photo
Before photo
After photo

How will I feel after the operation?

Your ears will be sore and some pain relief such as paracetamol can be taken to ease the pain. Stitches are removed around a week after surgery, and a head bandage should be worn in bed to hold the ears in the correct position whilst you are sleeping.

What are the risks?

The risks include:

  • The standard risks of a general anaesthetic, if applicable
  • Thick scarring which requires additional treatment
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Poor healing which may require further surgery
  • The stitching may not hold, especially in very young children due to the softness of the cartilage, requiring further surgery. It is wise to wait until the child is at least five years old before performing this operation.
  • The ears may be numb for a while

A note about babies

Babies of less than 6 months old have very soft cartilage which can be reshaped without surgery, by applying a splint to the rim of the ear. After the baby has worn the splint for a few weeks the ear becomes permanently reshaped and the need for surgery later in life is avoided.