What is ear pinning?

Ear surgery, or otoplasty, is a type of cosmetic plastic surgery procedure aimed at setting prominent ears closer to the head, or reducing the size of larger ears. However, there are other ear problems that can be helped with surgery, including:

  • Lop ear - when the tip of the ear folds down and forward
  • Cupped ear - a very small ear
  • Shell ear - when the curve in the outer rim, as well as the natural folds and creases, are missing
  • Large or stretched earlobes
  • Lobes with large creases and wrinkles

Surgeons can even build new ears for those who were born without them or who lost them through injury.

Who are candidates for ear pinning?

The operation is usually performed on children between the ages of four and 14, however, ear surgery for adults does occur.

Complications commonly associated with ear pinning:

As with any operation, there are risks associated with surgery and specific complications associated with this procedure, including:

  • Blood clots on the ears
  • Infection in the cartilage, which can cause a formation of scar tissue

About the ear pinning procedure:

  • Location options include:
    • Surgeon's office-based surgical facility
    • Outpatient surgery center
    • Hospital outpatient
    • Hospital inpatient
  • Anesthetic options include:
    • General anesthesia for children
    • Local anesthesia, combined with a sedative (allows the patient to remain awake but relaxed) for adults
  • Probable length of procedure: several hours or longer
  • Short-term side effects of surgery: throbbing or aching in the ears.
  • Anesthetic options include:
    • Local anesthesia, combined with a sedative (allows the patient to remain awake but relaxed)
    • A numbing spray, such a freon, may be used along with or instead of local anesthesia
    • General anesthesia
  • Probable length of procedure: from a few minutes to an hour or more, depending on the size of the area of skin to be refinished. The procedure may be performed more than once, or in stages.
  • Short-term side effects of surgery:
    • The skin will be red and swollen
    • Eating and talking may be difficult for a few days following the procedure
    • Tingling, burning, or aching may occur
    • Swelling
    • Scabbing

As the new skin starts to grow, it may appear and feel swollen, sensitive, and bright pink, which may take about three months to fade. Protection from the sun is very important following this type of procedure.

Contact Us

For more information about UM Division of Plastic Surgery or to make an appointment, please call 1-800-492-5538 or 410-328-2360 (patients) or 1-800-373-4111 (physicians).