What is a pinnaplasty?

A pinnaplasty (or otoplasty) is an operation to improve the appearance of your ears.

Is a pinnaplasty suitable for me?

You are most likely to benefit from a pinnaplasty if you are self-conscious about your ears, you are being teased or if you have unusually-shaped ears.

What are the benefits of surgery?

Your ears should have a better shape (see figure 1).

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

For adults, surgery is the only option to change the shape of your ears.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is usually performed under a local anaesthetic. The operation usually takes about an hour.

Your surgeon will make a cut at the back of your ear and peel off some skin from the cartilage. They will change the shape of the cartilage so your ear lies closer to your head. Your surgeon may need to use stitches to hold your ear in position and to create folds.

Your surgeon may also make a cut at the front of your ear and peel back your skin so they can lightly score the cartilage. This technique tends to make the cartilage bend towards the head.

Your surgeon will place a dressing on your head to give your ears support.

What complications can happen?

1 General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Unsightly scarring

2 Specific complications

  • Cosmetic problems

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day or the day after. For a few weeks, while the swelling and bruising settles, rest and do not do strenuous exercise.

You can return to work after the head dressing has been removed.

Do not play sports for six weeks.

The results of a pinnaplasty are usually permanent.


A pinnaplasty is an operation to improve the appearance of your ears. The operation should be performed only if the aim is to improve your self-confidence and to make you more comfortable with your appearance. You should consider the options carefully and have realistic expectations about the results.


Author: Mr Eoin O'Broin MD FRCS (Plast.)

Illustrations: Mr Eoin O'Broin MD FRCS (Plast.)


This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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