Ear Surgery

Ear Pinning Surgery (Otoplasty) in Philadelphia


If your ears protrude excessively from the side of your head (prominent ears or outstanding ears), ear pinning surgery (otoplasty) might be right for you. This procedure can bring the ears to a more natural position closer to your head. During otoplasty surgery, the ear cartilage may also be reshaped to give a more normal contour to your ear.

Dr. Lo has been performing ear correction surgery for over 25 years. He began his career at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, where he performed ear reconstruction and ear pinning surgery for children. Now, Dr. Lo concentrates exclusively on teenage and adult patients who did not have the opportunity to have ear pinning surgery as a child. His adult patients are extremely pleased to finally achieve the normal ear shape and position they have always desired.

Dr. Lo performs ear pinning surgery for patients in Philadelphia and South Jersey. Patients come from around the country to see Dr. Lo for ear pinning surgery.

Am I a Good Candidate for Ear Pinning?

If you have any of the following conditions, Dr. Lo may recommend ear pinning surgery for you.

  • Ears that protrude or stick out from the side of your head
  • The top half of your ear flops forward
  • The upper cartilage of your ear is flat or lacking a natural curvature
  • You are bothered or embarrassed by the appearance of your ears

What Does Ear Pinning Surgery Involve?

The Otoplasty Consultation

A consultation with Dr. Lo is required before your ear pinning surgery. During this consultation, Dr. Lo will listen to your goals for the procedure and examine your ears to recommend the best technique for you. He will show you before and after photos of ear surgery patients to help you understand what can be achieved with the procedure.

Dr. Lo offers virtual online HIPAA-compliant consultations for your convenience.

How Is Ear Surgery Done?

During the surgery, your ears are set back closer to the side of your head at a normal angle, and your ear cartilage may be reshaped to a more natural contour.

Dr. Lo’s Otoplasty Technique

There are several components to Dr. Lo’s surgical technique to correct your ears. Based on your situation, the surgical techniques mentioned below can be used to move your ears to a normal position at the side of your head and create a more natural and proportionate ear shape and size.

1. If Your Ears Protrude From the Side of Your Head

Using permanent stitches underneath the skin, Dr. Lo will position your ears back to the side of your head so that they are in the normal position. A small ellipse of skin on the back of each ear is removed to help maintain this angle.

2. If Your Upper Ear Cartilage is Flat and Lacks Curvature

The top portion of the ear cartilage is called the superior antihelical fold. This fold is usually flat and lacks curvature. Dr. Lo will recreate a natural curvature in the antihelical fold, giving you a normal look to the top half of your ear.

3. If You Have Larger or Disproportionate Earlobes

Your earlobe may need to be made smaller or reduced as part of your ear pinning surgery.

How Long Does It Take to Recover From Ear Surgery?

Otoplasty is performed as an outpatient procedure, which means you go home the same day. You will have a soft gauze wrap around your head to cover your ears. When you are resting, your head/ears should be elevated at about a 45-degree angle on several pillows to promote healing.

Your Otoplasty Post-op Appointment

Your first post-op visit is two days after your surgery, at which time Dr. Lo will remove the head/ear dressing. At this time, you will be able to see the early results of your surgery. Patients are happy to see their corrected and reshaped ears, although there may be some swelling, mild redness, and bruising.

You will continue to have additional post-op visits with Dr. Lo to monitor your healing at one week, one month, and three months after surgery.

Otoplasty Recovery Guidelines

After your initial post-op appointment with Dr. Lo, you can wash your hair, take a shower, and allow water to run over your ears. You will be advised to wear a light compression sweatband over your ears for four weeks at home and at night.

After otoplasty, you can restart normal activities that are not strenuous, but you should avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for two weeks. Walking is fine, and light weightlifting may be started at two weeks. You should not participate in contact sports for four to six weeks, especially any sport that may pose a risk to your ears.

Otoplasty Surgery FAQ

Are otoplasty results permanent?

Dr. Lo’s technique reshapes your ear to make it more natural looking. Because your cartilage is reshaped, the long-term results are more lasting. It does not depend on sutures/stitches that may be felt, break, or begin to extrude or come out of skin over time.

How long does ear surgery take?

Ear pinning surgery takes about one hour.

Where is your ear surgery performed?

Dr. Lo performs all his ear surgeries in the safety and sterility of Pennsylvania Hospital Surgery Center or Pennsylvania Hospital.

What type of anesthesia is used for ear surgery?

You have a choice of anesthesia for your surgery.

  • General anesthesia: you are completely asleep and do not feel any pain
  • Twilight sedation (the most common way to have ear pinning surgery): local anesthesia numbs the area, and you are made comfortable with medications through an IV
  • Local anesthesia: numbs the area and you are completely awake

Is otoplasty/ear pinning surgery painful?

After surgery, your pain should be minimal. Most patients just take TYLENOL® or acetaminophen for the pain. You will be given stronger pain relief medication if you need it. The head/ear wrap may be uncomfortable, but it is quite tolerable and removed after just 24 to 48 hours.

How do I prepare for my ear surgery?

Two weeks before surgery, you should stop taking all medications that can increase bleeding such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. All herbal medications should also be stopped, as they can cause bleeding and interfere with anesthesia.

Some patients will intentionally grow their hair longer to cover their ears since after surgery the ears may be swollen, bruised, and red for one to three weeks.

How much time should I take off work or school for ear surgery?

Once the head/ear dressing is removed two days after your surgery, you should be able to return to work or school as long as you avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities. During this early healing period, your ears may be swollen, red, and bruised. If you have long hair, it can cover the ears as they are healing.

Most patients will take about five to seven days off work or school. For example, if you have your surgery on a Tuesday, you might go back to work or school on Monday, or if you have surgery on Thursday, you might go back on Monday also. It really depends on your schedule and how you feel.

When will I see the results of my ear surgery?

You will see your initial results when the dressing is removed two days after your surgery. Your ears may look “overcorrected” for one to two weeks, but as healing continues, your ears will settle into a normal and natural look. Your ears will look almost completely normal at three to four weeks.

What are the risks of ear pinning surgery?

Complications after ear pinning surgery are not common. Risks include bleeding, infection, temporary and permanent loss of feeling to the skin of your ear, skin discoloration, and healing problems.

Will my right ear and left ear be the same after surgery?

Asymmetry is part of the natural human body, and your right ear and left ear after surgery will not be exactly the same or even. The ears will look good after the surgery, and patients are pleased with the results, but the right and left ear will have minor differences in shape, size, and the amount of setback in relation to the side of the head. This is normal.

How should I choose my otoplasty plastic surgeon?

Selecting your plastic surgeon is one of the most important decisions you can make on your ear surgery journey. Plastic surgeons are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). This certification ensures that the surgeon has met rigorous academic, professional, and ethical standards and is highly qualified to perform your surgery. Before choosing a surgeon for your otoplasty (ear pinning surgery), it is recommended that you do research and ask questions to ensure that you feel comfortable. Ask to see otoplasty before and after images to make sure you are happy with the results.

Dr. Adrian Lo is a top board-certified plastic surgeon in Philadelphia. He is a member of The Aesthetic Society (ASAPS) and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). He is also a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS).
How much does otoplasty cost?
Otoplasty is a highly specialized surgical procedure, and the overall cost of your operation will vary depending on your specific needs.

The cost of ear pinning surgery, including Dr. Lo’s surgical fee and the hospital and anesthesia fee, is approximately $6,300. This does not include prescription medications or sweat bands.

Different forms of payment and financing are available.

Would You Like More Information About Otoplasty?

If you have any questions about otoplasty and what it can do for you, call (215) 829-6900 or fill out our online contact form. Dr. Lo offers otoplasty (ear pinning surgery) for patients in the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, including the cities of Philadelphia, Marlton, and Cherry Hill.


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