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Ear pinning (pinnaplasty)


About ear pinning

Ear pinning, also called pinnaplasty and otoplasty, is an operation to treat prominent ears. Your ear is made up of folded cartilage, which is covered by thin skin. If you have prominent ears, you have a lack of these cartilage folds in your ear.

If you, or your child, has ears that are prominent and stick out, it can cause psychological distress. Children can be bullied, which can lead to difficulties at school.

Ear pinning surgery can set back prominent ears closer to the side of your head.

How can I prepare for my ear pinning?

Your surgeon will explain how to prepare and what will happen when you have your ears pinned back. He or she will measure your ears before the surgery and may take some photographs so you can compare the results after ear pinning.

You should arrange to have someone take you home after the procedure.

What happens during my ear pinning?

Before the procedure, your surgeon will talk you through the process and ask you to sign a consent form.

You will probably be seen as a day case. However, some people need to stay overnight in hospital. In children, ear pinning is usually performed under general anaesthesia, which means they will be asleep. Adults usually have the procedure under local anaesthesia. This will numb the area and completely block any pain.

Your surgeon will make a small cut in your ear and then reshape your ear cartilage into a less prominent shape.  He or she may reposition and shape your cartilage by removing small pieces and scoring and stitching the structure into the desired shape and position.

The procedure usually takes between one and two hours, but it can sometimes take longer.

Are there any complications or risks of my ear pinning?

As with every procedure, there are complications associated with ear pinning. Speak to your surgeon for more information.

Complications of ear pinning include developing a blood clot under the skin of your ear, which can damage your underlying cartilage. This can make your ear an unnatural shape. This can also happen if you get an infection in your cartilage. In some people, their scar behind their ear may be lumpy.

Most people are happy with the results of the operation. However, it's possible that you may not be happy with the shape after the procedure and need another operation.

Recovering from ear pinning

Your surgeon may place a bandage around your head to protect your ears after ear pinning surgery. You may need to wear this for up to a week.

Your ears may ache for a few days after the operation. They may also feel numb but this should go within a few weeks.

Most children can go back to school around seven days after ear pinning surgery. However, they shouldn't do any contact sports, such as rugby, for six weeks. Adults can go back to work after seven days.

How much does ear pinning cost?

For a guide to what you could pay for your treatment, click here.

What to do now

Once you have decided that you would like to be treated at an HCA hospital, or would like further information, here's what to do next:

  1. Call one of our advisors on + 44 (0) 20 7079 4399 or complete our web enquiry form.
  2. Check with your insurance company that your policy covers your treatment, and obtain authorisation.
  3. Visit or call your GP to obtain a referral letter and then call us to make an appointment to visit your chosen consultant and hospital at a time to suit you.
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