Had it up to ‘ear with your lobes? Ear pinning and reshaping (also known as otoplasty or pinnaplasty) is a cosmetic procedure that is designed to improve the appearance of protruding, excess, malformed or otherwise damaged cartilage and tissue around the outer ear.
The most common type of otoplasty involves the surgical removal of a small amount of skin and cartilage from behind the ears, before they are sculpted to lay further back towards the head and stitched in place. A second form of the procedure leaves the cartilage intact and instead, internal stitches are used to fold it back on itself, transforming the visible shape of the ear. Scarring as a result of either surgery is often concealed by creating the necessary incisions in the folds behind the ear.
The operation can be performed under either general or local anaesthetic and usually takes around two hours, with most patients comfortably up and about a few hours afterwards. A full head bandage is used to keep sutures and the new structure of the ears in place, to stem bleeding and swelling and is worn for seven to ten days after the surgery. Stitches are normally removed or dissolve within a week and as a result of the quick recovery time, many people return to work just five days after the procedure.
Ripped or torn outer ears (such as those severely damaged by piercings) can also be repaired using stitches and other techniques during otoplasty.
If you are really self conscious about your ears and realise that the aim of otoplasty is to improve their appearance rather than perfect their symmetry, then this relatively small and simple treatment may be right for you. If you suffer from keloid scarring, there is a danger that ear pinning will trigger the condition around the healing site. Those with blood disorders that may cause clotting difficulty should consult their doctors before undergoing any surgical procedure.
Old Hollywood screen legend Clark Gable is among the famous faces said to have undergone otoplasty.