Otoplasty, commonly referred to as ear pinning, corrects the size or placement of an individual's ears. The procedure is generally performed on children ages of 4-14, as the ears finish growing by 4, and otoplasty can prevent adolescent ridicule. However 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.
How is the procedure performed
Depending upon the age of the patient, a pediatric otoplasty consultation can involve the child, allowing him/her to help determine the desired outcome. Regardless of the age of the patient, discussing pediatric otoplasty with parents and doctors can help calm fears and prepare the child for the surgery and subsequent recovery process.
The procedure itself is performed on an outpatient basis, allowing a patient to return home after the anesthesia has worn off. Pinnaplasty can be done with a local anesthesia plus a sedative, but very young children may be placed under general anesthesia for the duration of their surgery.
The surgeon performing the procedure makes an incision behind the ear, in the fold where it joins to the head. Otoplasty usually involves the removal of cartilage and skin, and sometimes the surgeon will trim the cartilage into a more pleasing shape, pinning it with permanent sutures.
Otoplasty concludes with the suturing to anchor the ear until healing. Patients report mild discomfort that can be treated with pain relievers and subsides within weeks. Otoplasty also results in a thin scar behind the ear. In case the scar is placed in the natural creases, it is not usually visible.
Risks and costs
Pediatric otoplasty has a very low incidence of side effects, but it's best to explain to your child the risks that exist and how you and your child can help prevent side effects such as infection or delayed healing. Other potential but rare side effects include:
- blood clots
- minor loss of skin
- excessive scaring
- asymmetry of the ears
Because pinnaplasty is an elective procedure done for cosmetic reasons, most health care plans do not cover this surgery. While the cost is not typically covered by insurance, most surgeons will offer payment options to patients in order to make the procedure financially feasible. The average cost of pinnaplasty surgery is $2,762 in the United States. This average does not include:
- the cost of anesthesia
- operating room fees
- after care supplies
The costs can vary considerably depending on the nature of the procedure, the surgeon, and the geographical location.