Cosmetic ear surgery is a commonly performed procedure. The technique used is dependent on both the initial concern and appearance and the desired end result. Ears can be pinned, increased or decreased in size, re-shaped or partially/entirely reconstructed.
The most frequently requested type of ear surgery is a procedure known as ‘pinning’. This technique is used for those patients who have ears that stick out. Many children have this relatively simple procedure performed as a result of teasing and name calling, and the results are generally impressive. A number of small incisions are made behind the upper cartilage of the affected ear (or ears), a small piece of cartilage is then removed and then the ear is folded neatly to sit closer to the scalp and finally sewn into place. This operation can generally be carried out from the age of four (although each case will need to be assessed individually), by which time the ear will have reached its full size. Although a more common operation in younger age groups, it is also a great choice for adults at any stage of life who have similar concerns about ears that they may feel ‘stick out’.
Increasing the ear size
This is an uncommon request, but is sometimes requested by patients who feel that their ears are not proportional to the rest of their face. It is possible for a surgeon to carefully place a flexible implant into the upper cartilage of the ear, thus increasing its size. This clever surgery results in a larger ear that looks very natural.
Decreasing the ear size
If, after reaching puberty, a person feels that their ears are out of proportion to the rest of their face, a cosmetic procedure can be performed whereby the size of the ears is decreased. This is usually achieved by skilfully trimming both the lower and upper lobes with a scalpel, and a good surgeon will be able to achieve a very natural-looking result.
Re-Shaping the ear
If a client is unhappy with the shape of their ears, they can request an operation to reshape them, either to make them more pointed or more rounded. This is achieved by cutting the upper cartridge, reshaping it and then sewing the desired shape into place.
There are a number of conditions that may lead to the necessity of ear reconstruction. These include cancer, trauma from an injury and a number of congenital defects that affect the normal development of the ears. Modern surgical techniques ensure that there are now ways to achieve good results in even severe cases. Otoplasty is used to correct ears that are significantly prominent. If the ear is malformed or completely missing, a procedure called Micotia Repair can be performed, sometimes using the patient’s own tissue (often from the rib cage) to form a new ear. Alternatively, a specialist can create a new and realistic artificial ear.