The ears are one of those features that doesn’t get much attention – unless they stand out from the rest of the facial features. When the ears become a focal point, it can lead to significant pain and embarrassment, even in very young children. The good news is there is a relatively simple surgical procedure that can achieve symmetry and balance to the ears. This procedure is one of the few plastic surgery procedures that can be performed and is even recommended for some children.

What is Ear Pinning?

Ear pinning or otoplasty is a plastic surgery procedure that specifically addresses the size, shape or positioning of the ears. This procedure is most commonly recommended for patients that have ears that stick out conspicuously, leading to significant embarrassment for the individual. It can also be tailored to address other concerns affecting the appearance of the ear.

When Otoplasty May be Recommended

Otoplasty may be recommended for the following concerns:

  • Ears that protrude from the sides of the head
  • Ears that fold over on top (lop ears)
  • Ears that are asymmetrical (different sizes, different shapes)
  • Ears that are overly large in proportion to other facial features
  • Ears that need repair due to injury or birth defects

Ear reshaping can also be done on the lobes of the ears, often to repair excessive holes due to gauges or tears from other types of piercing. However, this type of surgery is usually performed on adults, rather than younger patients.

Choosing Otoplasty for Children

Children with protruding ears are often subjected to teasing and bullying by other children. Studies have shown that children can suffer far-reaching consequences as a result of this behavior, including loss of self-esteem, social challenges and even poor academic performance. Because the problems often begin when a child starts school, parents may consider otoplasty prior to that first day.

Otoplasty is a relatively straightforward and safe procedure that can be performed at any age, once the ears are fully mature. This usually occurs around the age of five, which is why a large percentage of ear pinning procedures are performed between the ages of five and seven. However, there is no limit on when this procedure can be performed, and even adults can reap the benefits of otoplasty if they have never considered ear reshaping before.

Is Your Child Ready for Ear Pinning?

If you are concerned about whether your child is ready for otoplasty, consider whether your child is able to understand and want the procedure. The child should be able to follow basic instructions, including those that will be given during the recovery process. Otoplasty is typically performed under general anesthesia for children, so your plastic surgeon will need to take a thorough medical history to ensure the procedure will be safe and successful.

Otoplasty is a surgical procedure that requires a recovery period afterward. The patient is advised to wear a special dressing like a headband for a week or longer to hold the ears in the new shape while they heal. There is little discomfort after ear pinning and most kids return to school within a week or so after the procedure.

If you or your child are unhappy with the appearance of their ears, solutions are available. To find out if otoplasty is the right choice, contact the New York Group for Plastic Surgery at our New York City office at 855-337-3063. You can also call one of our other area offices: Tarrytown, 914-366-6139; Cortlandt Manor, 914-293-8700; or Goshen, 845-294-2018.