What Is Ear Pinning Surgery?

Ear pinning surgery is a type of otoplasty that is used to address the appearance of protuberant ears. Also known as setback otoplasty, this procedure aims to “flatten” the ears against the head to make them less noticeable and pronounced. It is performed on both adults and children ages five and above.

The surgery is relatively simple. The ears are “pinned back” then sutured in place, leaving them much less prominent and closer to the sides of the head. Such procedures help bring balance and proportion to the face and ears, and can help prevent traumatic teasing and low self-esteem in younger patients.

Reasons To Undergo Ear Pinning Surgery

Patients typically undergo ear pinning surgery to reduce the distracting prominence of their ears, which are often a great source of embarrassment for people of any age. This is particularly for true for children, as they may sometimes experience teasing over the appearance of their ears.

Ears that are too large and prominent can also distort facial balance and symmetry, leaving the head and facial features looking somewhat undersized.

This surgery is performed to treat the following:

  1. Macrotia or overly large ears
  2. Protruding ears
  3. Asymmetrical or irregular ear shape
  4. Dissatisfaction from previous ear surgery

What Are The Benefits Of Ear Pinning Surgery?

Children with protruding ears are often exposed to teasing, which is why ear pinning surgery can be beneficial even at a young age. In both children and adults, the results of this surgery offer a boost in the patient’s satisfaction with their appearance. With ears that no longer overpower the rest of the face, other facial features often become more noticeable, thus achieving better overall symmetry.

As a double-boarded facial plastic surgeon with extensive experience in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, Dr. Jacob Sedgh can help you attain your surgery goals, which can include one or more of the following results:

  1. More symmetrical ears
  2. Smaller or flatter ears
  3. Better ear shape
  4. Improved self-esteem

During your first meeting with Dr. Sedgh, he will take the time to get to know you, listen to your specific cosmetic concerns, and understand what you’d like to achieve with the surgery. He will also ask you about your motivations for the procedure and your expectations of the treatment. All of these will allow him to come up with the right surgical techniques to utilize for the procedure to help you achieve your desired outcome.

The initial consultation will also consist of:

  1. Interview about medical history
  2. Thorough examination of the target area
  3. Explanation of the procedure
  4. Discuss the best procedure plan for your case

In the event that you are unable to come in for a consultation, Dr. Sedgh can also conduct the meeting over video conferencing. Additionally, for those who need to travel to undergo the surgery, the doctor’s office staff can assist in arranging your transportation, accommodation, and more.

Ear Pinning Surgery Procedure

Before the surgery, you will be placed under local anesthesia, general anesthesia, or conscious sedation. This will depend on a variety of factors, such as your age, the extent of the surgery, and your personal preference. However, Dr. Sedgh will typically recommend the best anesthetic option for your specific needs.

With children, general anesthesia is usually recommended to ensure the patient’s comfort throughout the whole procedure.

Ear pinning surgery requires precision to achieve optimum symmetry. It requires surgical techniques that will correct the antihelical fold (found just inside the rim of the ear) and reduce the conchal cartilage (largest and deepest concave of the external ear).

The surgery begins with an incision behind the ear, where the natural fold that connects the ear and head is located. Next, Dr. Sedgh will augment the prominence of the ear by altering the external structure and creating an antihelical fold, which is typically absent or underdeveloped in some patients with prominent ears. Permanent sutures will then be strategically placed create a natural, well-formed antihelix.

In cases where the ears already possess a developed antihelix but appears prominent as they sit too far from the head, Dr. Sedgh will perform a conchal setback, which involves the reduction or reshaping of the cartilaginous structures behind the ear. Since a simple conchal setback will usually make the upper and lower parts of the ears pop out, Dr. Sedgh may also use sutures to set them back to achieve the right result.

Both techniques are often used in ear pinning surgery, but this will still depend on the patient’s specific needs.

Ears Pinned Back Surgery Recovery

Ear pinning or setback otoplasty is normally performed as an outpatient procedure, but can be an inpatient procedure for younger patients.

You may experience discomfort for a few days following the procedure, which can be alleviated with prescribed medications and certain aftercare measures. Side effects such as swelling and bruising may also be present, but should be resolved after a few weeks.

Patients are generally able to resume their daily routines within 7 to 10 days after the surgery, but this can vary from patient to patient.

Dr. Sedgh places the highest importance on providing ample care and support throughout the entire postoperative process, as this helps ensure an optimal recovery. He makes it a point to personally follow up with the patient on a regular basis—whether over the phone, through video conferencing, or with a quick in-office visit—starting on the first post-surgery day up to a year later.

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