Ear Pinning (Otoplasty)

Ears that protrude more than usual (bat ears) occur in 1 in 20 people in Australia. Most commonly this is noticeable in children, though some adults develop concerns with this later. Teasing about prominent ears often occurs when children start school, and may affect your child’s self esteem and happiness. If your child is troubled please arrange to see one of our plastic surgeons to talk about their options.

Ear pinning surgery (called Otoplasty) is very effective in improving appearance concerns from prominent ears or ear asymmetry. Otoplasty is performed with scars hidden behind the ear and buried permanent sutures are used to reposition the cartilage to provide long-lasting improvement in ear shape. The skin wound is closed with dissolving stitches.

Ear pinning surgery aims to produce a natural look to the corrected ears, so that they are harmonious with the face.

If your child has ears which stick out from the scalp more than usual, or significant difference between the 2 sides, they may receive unwanted attention and teasing. Otoplasty surgery can help, and is normally performed any time after 6 years when the ears are almost fully grown.

In adults, otoplasty can be performed at any age if you have cosmetic concern about ear appearance.

Individual suitability, type of surgery and expectations of outcome will be discussed with your plastic surgeon at your consultation.

A consultation with your plastic surgeon will enable personalisation of the procedure and care to your unique situation.

Surgery is usually booked as a day procedure under general anaesthesia. Your child (or you if adult) will need to fast on the day of surgery, and organise a support person to take you home and be around the first night after surgery.

After surgery, a head bandage is applied for 1 week which supports the change in ear appearance. After 1 week this is replaced with a simple headband that you can bring, for a further 2 weeks full time (except washes) then 3 weeks at night only. 

While the surgery is not particularly painful (simple pain medications such as paracetamol usually suffice), it is important to rest after surgery. A 6 week break from organised sport or vigorous activity is recommended and children normally take off the first week of school (or adults 1 week off work).

A post-operative appointment will be organised to see your plastic surgeon 1 week after ear pinning surgery to check the wounds (dissolving sutures are used in the skin, so there are no stitches to remove) and provide advice to care for your scars as you recover.

Substantial improvement will be noticed when the head bandage is removed at 1 week after surgery. Most swelling has resolved by 6 weeks after surgery to show the long term result. Results are usually long-lasting though occasionally a heavy knock on the sports field can disturb things and need further attention.

All operations have risks, though major complications are rare after otoplasty. There is a small risk of concerns that may delay healing and require a little extra care (eg minor bleeding, infection, over-active scars) and small risks of asymmetry in the ear appearance, irritation from one of the deep permanent sutures, or sensitivity in the ears after surgery. Rarely, one of the permanent sutures may become dislodged (usually after a heavy knock on the sportsfield) and lead to deformity that warrants secondary surgery.

These risks may vary depending on your specific situation and will be discussed with you at your consultation. Please feel reassured that your plastic surgeon will only recommend surgery if they feel that the benefit of the procedure substantially outweighs the risks.

When otoplasty is undertaken in children under 18 years of age, the majority of the cost is rebatable through Medicare and standard private health insurance. This does require a referral from your family doctor.

When otoplasty is performed in an adult, it is considered by Medicare rules to be cosmetic – no rebate is available from Medicare or private health insurance.

After your consultation, a detailed quote will be provided to you including the surgeon fee, anaesthetic fee and hospital fee.

Our Otoplasty Surgeons

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Please be aware that all surgical procedures require a consultation with our plastic surgeons to allow a thorough assessment and discussion of your specific needs.