Otoplasty, also known as ear pinning, is a procedure designed to improve the overall appearance of the ear. The ear should extent outwards from the head at approximately 25-35 degrees. This means at the top of the ear it sticks out about 2-2.5 centimeters. When it protrudes farther than this it is considered abnormal. This may be because it is missing a bend at the top (antihelical fold) causing it to "flop over" or because of too much cartilage pushing the ear outwards. This happens more commonly than most people realize, affecting up to 5% of the Caucasian population. Other problems may be the ear folds over too much or not enough. Although when young this may be not a problem, as kids age it tends to be a source of ridicule. This is especially true during the adolescent years.
The correction of these problems is through minimally invasive techniques. In some circumstances, no incisions are required. At other times, a small incision at the back of the ear is made. There are many different surgical techniques with the most appropriate one discussed with you at the time of consultation. For adults, the procedure is usually performed in the office under local anesthetic. Given the delicateness of the procedure, children usually require this to be performed in the operating room since they cannot cooperate for the duration of the procedure. Each ear takes about 45 minutes to an hour to complete. As the ear reaches close to adult size early in life, corrective surgery on children can be considered as early as age 3-4 to minimize the social stigma. For infants in the first few months of life, Dr. Guy also offers the EarWell . This is a non invasive external device that non surgically corrects the ear. For more information on this option, please learn about it here.
Whatever the cause, there are surgical options to correct it, most of which can be performed in the office setting. Dr. Guy can discuss these options at your consultation.