Pediatric Otoplasty (Ear Reshaping)

Ear reshaping surgery, also known as otoplasty, can improve the shape, size, position or proportion of the ear. A difference in the ear structure that is present at birth or that becomes apparent with development can be corrected with otoplasty. Otoplasty can also treat misshapen ears caused by injury. Otoplasty creates a more natural shape while bringing balance and proportion to the ears and face. Correction of even minor deformities can have profound benefits to appearance and self-esteem. If protruding or unusually shaped ears bother you or your child, you may consider plastic surgery.

Prominent ears

Prominent ears are the most common reason for which patients have Otoplasty, or Ear Reshaping. Prominent ears, also known as protruding ears, occur when the ears stick out too far. It is common for one ear to stick out farther than the other ear. Surgery in children is often sought due to teasing at school. Children are typically not bothered by their protruding ears until other people notice and comment on them. Adults often seek ear pinning when it has bothered them for some time.

Treatment Goals

The goal in correcting prominent ears is to achieve a normal appearing ear. The idea is to achieve an ear that maintains a smooth natural curvature, avoiding sharp angles, and a balance between the top, middle, and bottom third of the ear. The ear is to be set back to a natural extent, maintaining a space between the ear and the side of the head. Any scars are hidden.

Another goal is to correct the protruding ears before the time of school/socialization to avoid teasing.

Surgical Treatment (Ear Pinning)

Pinback Otoplasty, or ear pinning, is performed using an incision hidden behind the ear. The scar from Otoplasty is not seen because it sits in a natural crease and is located behind the ear. There are 3 levels that must be evaluated and corrected as needed. Dr. Costa evaluates the upper third, middle third, and lower third, or lobule of the ear. Measurements are taken and a surgical plan devised. During the otoplasty, areas of cartilage are folded and sutures are used to define the shape and position. The antithetical fold is typically deficient and is created with sutures. Cartilage may be removed in order to set the ear back. Sutures on the back of the middle cartilage portion of the ear, the concha, are also used to set the ear back.

Timing of Otoplasty

Otoplasty can be performed before the ears finish growing; otoplasty does not adversely affect the growth of the ear. Otoplasty can be performed in teenagers and adults as well as younger children. 

Aftercare for Otoplasty

There will be a headwrap over your or your child’s ears for a few days. At your first postoperative visit, Dr. Costa removes the dressing. A simple headband is used to protect the newly set back ears for about one month.

Cost of Ear pinning (Otoplasty)

The cost of pinning back ears can vary. Many times, in children, Otoplasty is covered by medical insurance. Other times, it is an out-of-pocket expense. Certain insurance plans do not cover Otoplasty regardless of need. Insurance companies that cover Otoplasty may require documentation of psychological effects from protruding ears in order for the procedure to be covered.