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Pinnaplasty (child)

3-minute read

This page will give you information about an otoplasty. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

You can also download and print a PDF version of this factsheet, with space for your own questions or notes.

What is an otoplasty?

An otoplasty (or pinnaplasty) is an operation to improve the appearance of your child’s ears.

Is an otoplasty suitable for my child?

Your child is most likely to benefit from an otoplasty if they are self-conscious about their ears and have said this without any prompting from adults, they are being teased or their ears are unusually-shaped.

The operation should be performed only if the aim is to improve your child’s self-confidence and to make them more comfortable with their appearance.

What are the benefits of surgery?

Your child’s ears should have a better shape.

Illustration of a pinnaplasty.
a An ear sticking out with unusual folds
b An ear closer to the head with more normal folds

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

For 6 months after birth, it is possible to permanently change the shape of the ears using moulding splints. Once a baby is older than 6 months, surgery is the only option.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is usually performed under a general anaesthetic. For older children (young adults) the operation can be performed using only a local anaesthetic. The operation usually takes about an hour.

Your surgeon will make a cut at the back of the ear and peel off some skin from the cartilage. They will change the shape of the cartilage so the ear lies closer to your child’s head. Your surgeon may also make a cut just inside the cartilage so they can peel back the skin from the front of the cartilage and lightly score it. This technique tends to make the cartilage bend towards your child's head.

Your surgeon will place a dressing on your child’s head to give the ears support.

What complications can happen?

General complications

  • pain
  • bleeding
  • infection
  • unsightly scarring

Specific complications

  • cosmetic problems

How soon will my child recover?

Your child should be able to go home the next day.

For a few weeks, while the swelling and bruising settles, your child should rest and not do strenuous exercise. Your child can go back to school after the head dressing has been removed. Your child should not play sports for 6 weeks.

The results of an otoplasty are usually permanent.


An otoplasty is an operation to improve the appearance of your child’s ears. The operation should be performed only if the aim is to improve their self-confidence and to make them more comfortable with their appearance. You should consider the options carefully and have realistic expectations about the results.

The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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Last reviewed: September 2018

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