Are you concerned about your ears? Do you keep your hair long so that it always covers them? Well tonight, I’m going to show you all about the ear pinning procedure known as Otoplasty…here, on The Younger You.
Welcome to The Younger You with Troy Thompson. Today we’re talking all about a procedure which is performed on ears that stick out just a little bit further than necessary. Right now I’m going to talk to Dr. Scott Thompson who has performed the ear pinning procedures that you’re going to see on our patients later on in the show. But first of all, welcome Dr. Thompson.
Troy: I want to ask you, for people who don’t know about ear-pinning surgery, otoplasty is the technical term…what is it?
Dr. Thompson: Otoplasty is simply a procedure where you reposition the ear and most commonly it’s an ear that sticks out too much. It can have a few different causes with a few different techniques.
Troy: I understand that but how do you do the procedure?
Dr. Thompson: The procedure is done through a small incision in the back of the ear and there are permanent sutures that are placed to reshape the ear and move it closer to the head.
Troy: Can you have them pinned back too far?
Dr. Thompson: Yes, you could have them pinned back to far and if that happened you could actually release them and let them back out so it’s one of those procedures that when once it’s done, it’s not too late, you could reverse it.
Troy: Interesting, that I did not know. Is there an age you should start looking at?
Dr. Thompson: The ears are close to their adult size by about age 7 and we typically don’t like to do this surgery before then for a couple of reasons and that’s one of the reasons but also, when I do surgery on someone I like them to be in the driver’s seat making the decision so we don’t do this on a 2 or 3 year-old child.
Troy: Okay, I understand. What type of anesthesia do you use, Dr. Thompson?
Dr. Thompson: That all depends on the patient as well, the older the patient is the more likely they’ll be able to tolerate it under local anesthesia where they’re completely awake but we also do it under general anesthesia often as well.
Troy: Okay, is there a lot of pain?
Dr. Thompson: There’s not a lot of pain. There is some discomfort for the first week or so after surgery but most patients really don’t complain of a lot pain. It’s a really easy thing to recover from.
Troy: Dr. Thompson, I want to throw out a quick tip about the different forms of anesthesia and when each of them is actually used.
Anesthesia is broken into three main categories; local, regional, and general, all of which effect the nervous system. Local anesthesia is a drug which can be given as a shot, spray, or ointment. It numbs only a small specific area of the body. It only lasts for a short period of time and is often used for minor outpatient surgeries. Regional anesthesia is a drug that is injected near a cluster of nerves, numbing a larger area of the body. An example of this would be an epidural. General anesthesia knocks out a person completely with no awareness of surgery. With general anesthesia, the anesthesiologist uses a combination of various medications to do things like relieve anxiety, keep you asleep, and minimize pain during and after surgery.
Troy: Why is it that the ears look older as you get older? Like the earlobes get longer. Will that still happen after they’ve been pinned back?
Dr. Thompson: Yes, this really won’t affect the progression of your ears, whatever that’s going to be as you age, because we’re not actually removing any tissue or cartilage. There are some techniques that remove cartilage but I’m not really a fan of those because they don’t leave a very natural result. But it won’t affect the progress of the ears.
Troy: A viewer wrote into me and said, “Troy, can having ears that stick out affect your hearing?”
Dr. Thompson: That’s a really interesting question because if you go like this (protrudes ears) you can hear better. Theoretically, if you’re actually bringing the ear back a bit more, maybe it doesn’t capture the sound as well. But there’s nothing really documented.
Troy: I’ve actually seen people who’ve had them pinned too far back and it just offsets their whole face. It’s quite eerie.
Dr. Thompson: Yeah, you need to be able to see the ears and that’s one of the things I tell patients. Sometimes when they’re so used to looking at their ears sticking out, they want it really close to the head. They don’t want to be able to see their ears at all and I have to try and educate them that we need to see your ears, we just need to move them back a little.
Troy: Results immediate?
Dr. Thompson: Results are immediate, yes.
Troy: What’s the recovery like?
Dr. Thompson: Recovery is about a week. The stitches stay in for about one week and you’re good to go.
Troy: Are they big scars or are there just a couple of stitches?
Dr. Thompson: They’re fine line scars that are really well hidden behind the ears and they really aren’t an issue. People don’t see them.
Troy: If you haven’t had them pinned back enough in the first procedure and a year later you want them back more, is it possible?
Dr. Thompson: Very easy to do, yes.
Troy: We all know kids can be cruel which is why cosmetic surgery isn’t just done on adults. Let’s hear from Dr. Thompson how ear pinning works and watch him perform the actual procedure. Dr. Thompson, our patient, Angel, is 11 years old. Talk us through why he felt he needed to have this done.
Dr. Thompson: A lot of time kids aren’t always the nicest to each other and if you have something about your face or body that is different, sometimes they’ll point that out. So I have kids coming in saying they grow their hair long because they don’t want to be teased about their ears. For most kids, they are the ones driving this and want to have it done.
Troy: How do you know that it’s the right thing to do for that kid right then and there?
Dr. Thompson: If the parent is the one doing all the talking then I’m not so sure the child is ready to do it or that they want to do it. So the consultation is really important and that’s where I can assess if this person is a good candidate for this procedure or not.
Troy: We talked about age. Do girls have more of an issue with their ears sticking out, boys, or does it basically just happen?
Dr. Thompson: There is no genetic or environmental basis for it. Some people will think it’s something that they did but it’s just the way the genetics are. A lot of times it runs in families but it’s not more common for boys or girls.
Lexi & Angel (11) join the interview to discuss their experience with otoplasty surgery.
Troy: Dr. Thompson and I have been joined by Angel and Lexi. Welcome to the show you guys. Now these were the two patients who had procedures done. Why did you want to have this done?
Troy: Did anyone tease you at school?
Angel: No, because I had long hair and always covered them.
Troy: Do you really think that if you’d cut your hair, people would have made jokes at you?
Angel: Some people.
Troy: What about you, Lexi?
Lexi: Well I dance a lot, and in dance you have to pull your hair back and I always felt really self-conscious about my ears. And even when I was running late for school, I would never pull back my hair.
Troy: Let’s take a look at the before shots. Were they really sticking out that bad?
Dr. Thompson: Well, this is a combination of the patient sees and what I see. The most common problem with ears that stick out is that this fold right here is not there so it makes the ear stick out. It’s not so much that the ear is out but that the fold isn’t there. So if we recreate that fold, all the sudden the ear sits where it’s supposed to.
Troy: Let’s have a look at Lexi’s before shots as well. What do you see, Lexi?
Lexi: It’s embarrassing really. I just always felt really self-conscious about my ears.
Troy: Dr. Thompson, explain a little bit about her procedure that you were talking about.
Dr. Thompson: With Lexi, we were able to do the procedure under location anesthesia and she’s one that didn’t have this fold that we were talking about. They’re cute ears and they looked cute on her but they were just out a little bit too far and they draw attention to themselves. We want the ears to harmonize with the rest of the face and so just under local anesthesia, we numbed her up in the office, maybe a little incision and put some stitches in to create this fold that she has now.
Troy: Do you feel, Lexi, that this has given you the confidence boost that you thought you needed.
Lexi: Absolutely. Having this done, I can go out and put up my hair like other people and it just makes me more confident.
Troy: Dr. Thompson, you know people will sit at home and will wondering why we do this operation on two kids.
Dr. Thompson: Right. This is important because their a distraction for both of these kids. Yes, they’re normal ears, they can hear out of these ears, but their life is altered by them. And if we can make them something they don’t have to worry about or think about then they can have confidence to cut their hair short. They no longer have to think about them as somewhat of a negative factor about their face. You take care of that small thing and it’s really a confidence booster.
Troy: See, I don’t look at it as a vanity problem. I truly do think it is confidence. Do you think you would have done this later on in life if this wasn’t possible on the show?
Lexi: I think that I would have, yeah.
Dr. Thompson: I’ve had a couple of adults, even elderly patients, come in and have this surgery done. They told me they had been bothered and teased about their ears their whole life and now I can finally do this and I’m doing it.
Troy: What did your mom think about this when you said you wanted to have it done, Angel?
Angel: She said she’d stick with me and my decision if I wanted to do it but if not, that’s okay so just let me know.
Troy: So it was you’re choice.
Troy: I think that’s the important thing here, Dr. Thompson. It really is if you hear that the kids want to have it done.
Dr. Thompson: It’s their ears, it’s them going through the procedure and both of their parents were extremely supportive, neither one was pushing in any particular direction.
Troy: Lexi, did you get teased?
Lexi: I did a little bit.
Troy: What were things being said to you?
Lexi: A lot of people would say that I looked like an elf. That was the biggest comment I got.
Troy: Angel, how did it feel the first time you had your hair cut short?
Angel: It felt good.
Troy: What did you think of Dr. Thompson. We have a card here that you did and it’s a picture of you with big ears and long hair then small ears and spiky hair . Why did you do that?
Angel: To just give him a thank you letter for putting my ears back.
Dr. Thompson: I so appreciated that card. That’s one of the reasons that I’m happy I do what I do, because of these kinds of patients. They’re just fantastic.
Troy: Thanks guys, I appreciate it. If protruding ears is something that is a problem for you or for your child, you might want to consider having otoplasty surgery. Being a younger you is more than about cosmetic surgery. It’s also about confidence, no matter what age. For more information about this show, please head over to our website at theyoungeryou.tv and I’ll see you next week.
Learn more about otoplasty or ear-pinning surgery on our otoplasty page or call (801)776-2220 to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Thompson in Layton, Bountiful, or Draper, Utah.