Ears (Otoplasty)

Otoplasty, commonly referred to as ear pinning, corrects the size or placement of an individual’s ears.

Otoplasty is generally performed on children ages of 4-14, as the ears finish growing by 4, and otoplasty can prevent adolescent ridicule, but the procedure is also performed on adults upon occasion.

Good otoplasty makes the ears more proportional to the size and shape of the head and face.


What are the Benefits of Otoplasty?

Otoplasty is a cosmetic procedure that corrects the appearance of the ears. As a custom surgery, otoplasty can achieve significant results through conservative physical changes. The procedure can address multiple problems simultaneously with minimal downtime. Some of the cosmetic problems that otoplasty can correct include:

  • Shell ear, characterized by a lack of proper curvature along the outer rim of the ear
  • Cupped ear, in which the ear is very small in proportion to the head and face
  • Lop ear, characterized by a downward fold of the upper, outer rim of the ear

The physical changes achieved with otoplasty give way to tremendous emotional benefits. One of the prominent benefits of otoplasty in children is that ear reshaping early in life enables the child to feel optimally confident during their formative years. Children whose ears do not look “normal” can be subjected to unkind comments and glances, if not out-and-out teasing. Otoplasty has been associated with a marked increase in self-confidence, not only among children but also among adults who undergo this procedure.

Aside from the cosmetic and emotional benefits associated with this procedure, otoplasty is also safe and effective when performed by a plastic surgeon with proper training and experience. Dr. Foster has completed competitive residency and fellowship programs in head and neck surgery, and is board-certified in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.


How is Otoplasty Performed?

The vast majority of otoplasty procedures are performed on an outpatient basis. PThe otoplasty procedure may take between 1 and 3 hours. patients may stay in a monitored recovery area after their surgery, but are typically ready to go home within a few hours, after anesthesia wears off, if they have received general anesthesia. It is also possible to undergo otoplasty with a local anesthetic and sedation. General anesthesia is usually the ideal option for young children.

Otoplasty may involve one or more specific surgical techniques, depending on the treatment objectives discussed during the consultation. Surgery follows the general steps of:

  • Making incisions in the most discreet locations possible. This is usually the fold at the back of the ear. Sometimes, a small incision is made just in front of the ear, also in a natural crease.
  • Manipulating tissue as needed to improve ear shape, size, and proportions. This may involve adding or removing cartilage or skin or shaping cartilage using permanent internal stitches.
  • Closing incisions with external stitches. These are removed or will dissolve on their own.

What is the Recovery from Otoplasty?

After otoplasty, patients can expect side effects such as:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Redness
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Sore, tender, or itchy ears

A dressing and headband are applied after surgery. These remain in place at all times for about one week. The doctor removes them at the first surgical follow-up appointment. After the headband is removed, it is replaced with a smaller elastic band that is worn for 4 to 6 weeks. At some point, the headband may be worn only at night.

After otoplasty, it is important to avoid touching or scratching the ears. Patients must sleep on their backs with the head elevated. This prevents movement in the ears as they heal and also prevents pressure on the ears. For comfort and safety, patients should wear button-up shirts so clothing is not pulled over the head.


How much does Otoplasty Surgery Cost?

The cost of otoplasty varies based on several factors. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost is approximately $3,000. The various fees that contribute to the overall cost of this procedure include consultations and office visits, lab tests, anesthesia, surgical center fees, supplies, and prescriptions.


Does insurance cover Otoplasty Surgery?

Otoplasty is typically performed solely for cosmetic improvement, so it not covered by insurance. Patients may consider various financing options as needed to make this beneficial procedure more accessible. Also, patients are encouraged to contact their insurance provider for information related to this procedure. Some may extend coverage in situations that are deemed medically necessary.


Is Otoplasty Surgery Safe?

Otoplasty has been performed for decades. In the hands of an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon, the procedure is generally considered very safe with very limited risk of serious complications. As a surgical procedure, otoplasty carries inherent risks for:

  • Adverse anesthesia reactions
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Poor scarring
  • Prolonged changes in sensation around the surgical site, such as numbness

Otoplasty may also result in asymmetry or unnatural looking contours, which is why it is necessary to choose an experienced plastic surgeon for this procedure. No ears are perfectly shaped and sized. However, artful surgical technique achieves optimal results. There is also a risk of suture extrusion after otoplasty. This minor complication involves the internal sutures that secure the ears coming to the surface and showing through the skin. Revision surgery may be needed to correct this problem. Suture extrusion is an uncommon complication, the risk of which can be decreased by carefully following postoperative instructions.


Schedule a Consultation

Do you feel like you or your child would benefit from ear pinning or otoplasty? Fostermd can help prevent ridicule and increase overall happiness in appearance. Contact us today by calling 732.914.2233 for our Toms River office or 732.449.2099 for our Manasquan office to schedule a consultation today. We serve Monmouth County, Ocean County, and surrounding areas in New Jersey.

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