Also called otoplasty, ear pin back surgery uses techniques to reshape and reposition the ears so they do not project outward from the sides of the head at a significant angle. Pinning back the ears helps them remain closer to the sides of the head for a more pleasing appearance. Ear pin back surgery is commonly performed in children and teens, but it can also be performed in adults.
Ear pinning surgery is usually performed under sedation or anesthesia in an outpatient setting. Incisions will be made behind the ear to expose the cartilage so it may be incised or scored, reshaped and repositioned. Excess skin will be removed, the ears will be sutured into their new shape and position, and the incisions will be closed with tiny sutures. Most procedures take about two hours or less.
Following surgery, most patients experience some mild to moderate discomfort as well as itching once healing is under way and the skin and other tissues begin to adjust to their new position. Immediately after surgery, a bandage will be placed over the ears and instructions will be provided regarding how to care for the area and the best way to sleep to prevent swelling and discomfort. Most patients take a week off from school or work to promote early recovery in the area. Smaller headband-style bandages may need to be worn for an additional week or two to support the new shape of the ears while they heal, and stitches that do not dissolve on their own can be removed in about a week.
Like any surgery involving incisions, ear pinning will result in scars. The appearance of scars will become reduced over time, and the location of the scars will be in areas that are very hard to see, especially once the ears are positioned closer to the head. Incision placements and resulting scarring can be discussed prior to surgery once the best approach and incisions sites have been determined.