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What are the Different Types of Cosmetic Ear Surgery?

By Bryan Cowing
Updated May 21, 2024
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Cosmetic ear surgery is a common procedure with a multitude of results. Ears can be decreased in size, enlarged, pinned and reshaped. Ear surgery is most commonly performed by cutting and sewing the ear lobe or cartilage.

One type of cosmetic ear surgery that can be performed is decreasing the size. After a person has reached puberty, his ears should be proportional to his face. If the ears still appear large, it can lead to teasing and ridicule as well as self-consciousness; in some cultures it can even lead to discrimination. The surgery to decrease the size of a person's ears usually focuses on decreasing the upper and lower lobes by trimming them with a scalpel.

While not common, another type of cosmetic ear surgery involves the enlargement of one ear or both. This type of surgery is most often requested when a person has ears that are significantly smaller than what is considered average for his or her age and overall size. For this surgery, a small implant is placed in the upper cartilage of the ear to build the ear. The implant is flexible and built to provide both comfort and a realistic appearance.

The most common type of cosmetic ear surgery performed is called pinning. Pinning is used for ears that stick out too far. This procedure is relatively simple and requires small incisions behind the upper cartilage of each ear. A section of the cartilage is then removed and the ear is folded and sewn to bring the ear closer to the scalp.

Another less common type of cosmetic ear surgery is reshaping. This type of surgery has many options. A person may request that his or her ears be altered to mimic the pointed shape of a Vulcan or an elf. For this surgery, the upper cartilage is cut, reshaped and sewn back together to create a point. It should be noted that pointed ears are more sensitive to cold than regular, rounded ears.

As with any surgery, cosmetic ear surgery carries risks. Infection is possible, especially if the surgery is not performed by a reputable, licensed surgeon. The ears are a relatively thin appendage, so it is possible to lose pieces of the skin on the ear if the skin cells do not receive proper blood flow. If the surgery is performed under standard anesthesia, the possibility of death also is small but real.

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Discussion Comments

By Heavanet — On Feb 10, 2015

@raynbow- Getting a good cosmetic results from ear pinning surgery definitely requires a skilled surgeon. Since the risk of asymmetry after the procedure is real, doing your homework ahead of time is the best strategy for getting pleasing results.

You should start by talking to your primary care doctor about your interest in this cosmetic ear surgery. He or she should be able to refer you to a surgeon who is qualified and trusted.

You can also do a search for a surgeon on your own. You can do an online search or check with your local hospital for surgeons who are board certified in cosmetic or ear surgery. Having consultations with several doctors will help you find the one that is best for you and that you feel comfortable talking to about your expectations.

You should also make sure that the doctor you choose to do our surgery has operating privileges at reputable hospitals in your area. By doing this, you will be able to have your surgery done in a safe place.

By Raynbow — On Feb 09, 2015

I am helping a friend find a plastic surgeon to perform ear pinning surgery on her prominent ears. What are some tips for locating a qualified doctor?

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