Without any doubt, mandatory mask use over the past year has made many people aware of their ears. Prominent ears are generally caused by a lack of folding in ear cartilage. While cartilage qualities such as elasticity and firmness do vary by individual, as we get older the cartilage is generally too firm to permanently mold. In this article, I will discuss the options for reducing prominent ears.
What is an ear pinning?
Ear pinning, or otoplasty, is a surgery that helps individuals with prominent ears. Traditionally this is done with a cut behind the ear; however, this can also be done without a cut.
Ear Pinning: How it Works
The surgery is typically performed by a board-certified facial plastic surgeon. It can easily be done without the need for general anesthesia and in most adults can be done with just local anesthesia injections. When an incision is made, it is placed BEHIND the ear in order to access, fold, trim and/or tether back the cartilage.
There are generally two areas that can cause big ears. The anti-helical fold or Y-shaped inner cartilage can have a minimal shape and be corrected with an incisionless ear pinning technique. Meanwhile, if the concha or central bowl is prominent, a suture needs to directly cinch the cartilage to the bone behind the ear.Can I Get Ear Pinning Without Surgery?
As we get older, the cartilage becomes more and more calcified. Calcified cartilage is firmer and less resilient. A very young child or an infant; however, will have cartilage that can be molded. Typically, if an infant’s ears have no fold, a mold can be used to create it. This is useful for younger children who do not have an antihelical fold. If the issue is a conchal bowl, an incision would be needed and there is certainly no way to reliably make cartilage SMALLER.
When the issues involve a lack of antihelical fold, multiple medical devices can be used to permanently fold the ears. Devices such as EarWells and Infant Ear can be used during infancy when maternal estrogen causes significant malleability of the ear cartilage. Over the course of six weeks, the cartilage can be molded in most shapes.
Does Otostick Work?
Another option is Otostick. This device is simple a mechanism to help temporarily glue the ear to the bone behind the head. It certainly works but is not permanent and can cause skin irritation behind and on the ear. You can also try double-sided tape. Remember, you won’t be able to easily wear a mask with these! At $2 per use, the cost will certainly add up.
What is Incisionless Otoplasty?
This is a procedure that can be performed with a numbing shot placed on each side. One to four stitches can be placed in the antihelical fold to pin in the top and at times middle of the ear. Though it is technically surgery it does not need to be performed in an operating room. Think of it as a hidden internal purse-string stitch!
Ear Pinning Surgery
Not everyone can get the results they want without surgery. While there is a significant upfront investment (click here to read a post about ear pinning cost), the long-term results of never thinking about your ears might be worth it. Check out our ear pinning before and after gallery or call the office to schedule a consultation.