Q: Dr. Eppley, I have a son whose ears stick out. When he was little, he was sometimes called dumbo which was cute at the time. Now that he is in school, he is called dumbo and it is no longer funny. I can tell that it bothers him considerably and he is very self-conscious about his big ears. I want to get him an ear pinning procedure, which I know is the right thing to do, but I need some more information about the operation. Please give me an overview of some of the specifics about this type of ear plastic surgery.
A: Ear deformities can be emotionally traumatic to anyone but it is particularly bothersome to young school-aged children and teenagers during their very important formative years of their self-image. The good news is that an ear pinning, known as otoplasty, is a relatively easy and highly successful procedure. As the ear is about 90% complete in its growth by age 5 or 6, an otpoplasty can be done before a child enters school.
Otoplasty is done under general anesthesia in children. The incision and resultant scar is placed on the back of the ear and will heal so that it is never seen. The ears are reshaped by giving the ear cartilages a new shape through the use of permanent sutures which folds the ears back. The operation takes about one hour. Dissolveable sutures are used to close the incision and a head dressing is applied for few days. There is some slight discomfort but it is not a painful experience afterwards. Once the dressing is removed, the results are immediately seen. While there is some slight ear swelling, there is usually no bruising.
Dr. Barry Eppley