Otoplasty, or more commonly referred to as ear-pinning surgery, has been the most commonly performed plastic surgery over the past several years performed on patients below 18. In fact, it accounted for about 45 percent of all surgical enhancements sought by minors in 2012, one survey has suggested.
While ear surgery can be performed on a healthy patient regardless of his age, double board-certified facial plastic surgeon Dr. Karan Dhir recommends having the procedure at a young age due to some notable benefits.
First and foremost, children’s cartilage is more flexible and easier to work with compared to adults’, thus they achieve better aesthetic results in general. However, there are still other factors that can affect the final outcome, and these include the underlying anatomy (length of the ear) and the surgeon’s skills.
By the age of five or six, the ear’s development is complete that otoplasty could already be attempted.
Aside from achieving optimal results, having the surgery at a young age could also curb potential psychological trauma from teasing and name-calling, which have detrimental emotional ramifications on bullied individuals that could last into adulthood as suggested by several studies.
Some experts even suggest otoplasty on children before they begin their education, while others believe that it should only be attempted when they are asking for the procedure themselves or at least confiding to their parents that they are bothered by taunting.
Meanwhile, it is important for parents to explain to their children the ramifications of otoplasty—not just its aesthetic benefits but also the recovery.
In an attempt to hide the scars, the incisions are placed behind the ear that will allow the surgeons to manipulate the cartilage underneath and ultimately reshape the ears and/or bring them closer to the head. Because each individual has a different anatomy, otoplasty comes in various techniques to achieve the most desired result.
Dr. Dhir said that otoplasty typically lasts one to two hours and is deemed as a “simple” procedure since most patients can resume normal activities, of course excluding physically-demanding tasks, within days of the surgery.