Prominent ear correction, also known as otoplasty or pinnaplasty, is a very common operation in the UK and can help patients to feel more confidence and comfortable in the appearance of their ears. It is usually done to set prominent ears back closer to the head or to reduce the size of large ears.
For children, most surgeons try to perform the surgery when the child is at an early age to reduce bullying and teasing at school. However, pinnaplasty is also performed on adults and there are no additional risks in older patients.
More natural-looking ears
Most patients, young and old alike, are thrilled with the results of ear surgery. But it’s important to keep in mind that the goal is improvement, not perfection. Perfect symmetry is both unlikely and unnatural in ears, however, ear correction can help you to feel more comfortable with the appearance of your ears.
The most common form of ear correction is a “bilateral otoplasty”, which means that surgery is performed on both ears. However, in some cases a “unilateral otoplasty” can be performed, which means that surgery is performed on only one ear. Your surgeon will discuss with you the best approach to take with ear correction surgery to achieve the results you are looking for.
How old should you be to have surgery?
If you are considering ear correction surgery for your child, they must be at least 5 years old, to ensure that the ears are not still developing.
Most surgeons recommend that parents stay alert to their child’s feelings about protruding ears; don’t insist on ear surgery until your child wants the change. Children who feel uncomfortable about their ears and want the surgery are generally more cooperative during the process and happier with the outcome.
In the initial meeting, your surgeon will evaluate your child’s condition and recommend the most effective technique. He or she will also give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery.
How long do the results of otoplasty surgery last?
The results of ear correction are permanent and in the vast majority of cases will not require any further surgery. Your surgeon will brief you on exactly what you can expect in your initial consultation.
How much does an otoplasty cost?
The price of an otoplasty procedure will depend upon what is required from the surgery, which will be discussed with your surgeon at your consultation.
If you cannot afford the full price of surgery upfront, we also offer finance packages spread over a fixed term of 10-60 months. You can find out about the payment options available and if it’s right for you on our financing page.
The technique used will depend on your individual circumstances and the results you are looking for.
In one of the more common techniques, the surgeon makes a small incision in the back of the ear to expose the ear cartilage. They will then sculpt the cartilage and bend it back toward the head. Non-removable stitches may be used to help maintain the new shape.
Occasionally, the surgeon will remove a larger piece of cartilage to provide a more natural-looking fold when the surgery is complete.
Another technique involves a similar incision in the back of the ear. Skin is removed and stitches are used to fold the cartilage back on itself to reshape the ear without removing cartilage.
In most cases, ear surgery will leave a faint scar in the back of the ear that will fade with time. Even when only one ear appears to protrude, surgery is usually performed on both ears for a better balance.
Types of anaesthesia
If your child is young, your surgeon may recommend general anaesthesia, so the child will sleep through the operation. For older children or adults, the surgeon may prefer to use local anaesthesia, combined with a sedative, so you or your child will be awake but relaxed.
You can discuss with your surgeon what the best approach would be to ensure the surgery is as comfortable as possible.
Both adults and children are usually up and around within a few hours of surgery and can go home on the day of surgery. Occasionally patients may prefer to stay overnight in the hospital until all the effects of general anaesthesia wear off.
The patient’s head will be wrapped in a bulky bandage immediately following surgery to promote moulding and healing. The ears may throb or ache a little for a few days, but this can be relieved by medication. If the pain increases, it is important that you let your surgeon know.
Within a few days, a lighter head dressing, similar to a headband, will replace the bulky bandages. Be sure to follow your surgeon’s directions for wearing this dressing, especially at night as this can influence the effectiveness of the surgery.
Stitches are usually removed, or will dissolve, in about a week. Any activity in which the ear might be bent should be avoided for six weeks. Most adults can go back to work about five days after surgery. Children can go back to school after around seven days but must be careful about playground activity. You may want to ask your child’s teacher to keep an eye on the child for a few weeks.
Risks of surgery
The risks of ear correction surgery are relatively low, with a low incidence of complications following surgery. However, as with any surgery, there are some risks, which are important to understand. These are discussed below.
A small percentage of patients may develop a blood clot behind the ear. This may dissolve naturally or can be drawn out with a needle or may require reoperation.
Occasionally, patients develop an infection in the cartilage, which can cause scar tissue to form. Such infections are usually treated with antibiotics; rarely, surgery may be required to drain the infected area.
It is sometimes very difficult to achieve symmetry between the two sides. Any difference is usually very minor. In some instances, it may require a reoperation if it is noticeable.
The scar on the back of the ear can very occasionally heal with a red and raised scar. This usually settles down over a prolonged period but may need treatment. Discuss this with your surgeon.
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