Procedure Time: 1 Hr

Recovery Time: 3-5 Days

Otoplasty Seattle & Tacoma

Ears that protrude, or stick out, are a common source of insecurity. In younger life, it can also lead to teasing, bullying, and ostracisation. Adults, while they can be successful, may try to hide their ears, use cosmetic tape to pin them back, or feel insecure with their appearance. Thankfully, there is an easy and permanent solution for protruding ears, otoplasty surgery. The plastic surgeons at Seattle Plastic Surgery offer the best otoplasty Seattle and Tacoma provides. 

Overview: What Is Otoplasty?

Otoplasty, also known as ear pinning, is a surgical procedure that reduces the projection of the ears by bringing them in closer to the head. It may also reposition them into a more natural position. While a plastic surgeon can perform it on a patient of almost any age, it is especially commonly performed on school-aged children.

Ear pinning is generally considered cosmetic surgery. For many people, though, it does not carry the same stigma as other types of plastic surgery. It is also one of the few cosmetic procedures acceptable to perform on a child.

While otoplasty is usually performed to correct congenital defects with the ears, it can also address ears that began to stick out due to an injury. This is a frequent reason that adults will seek out ear pinning surgery in Seattle.

A Before and After photo of an Otoplasty Plastic Surgery by Dr. Craig Jonov in Seattle and Tacoma

Before & After Otoplasty

History Of Ear Surgery

The first incarnation of otoplasty surgery is credited to Indian ayurvedic physician, Sushruta in the 5th century BC. The invention of many other plastic surgeries is credited to this region and period including rhinoplasty, brow lifts, and skin grafting. Some of these techniques are still used today, though with more modern tools and updates.

The first specific “ear pinning” surgery was documented around 1845. While these techniques remained popular into the 20th century, around the 1960s is when the more modern techniques for otoplasty emerged. Since then, the procedure has evolved to become less invasive. There are also now several different techniques a plastic surgeon may use based on the patient’s anatomy.

Today, otoplasty remains the second most popularly performed procedure on patients 13-19. On patients under 19, it is often the first or second in popularity. Adults do and can undergo otoplasty surgery, with the majority of ear surgeries taking place on adult patients. Though, when compared to other procedures such as facelifts, otoplasty has lost some popularity in the last two decades.


Otoplasty surgery comes with many benefits for patients with protruding ears. Overall, ear pinning is a low risk surgery that is often performed in under an hour. Some of the benefits patients may see regarding their ear pinning surgery can include:

  • Correction of over protruding ears
  • Reduce the size of the ears
  • Address various congenital ear deformities such as lopped ear and shell ear
  • Improves self esteem
  • Enhances overall facial appearance
  • Prevent bullying and ostracization for school age children
  • Permanent results
  • Minimal recovery
  • Scars are often not prominent or visible
  • Short surgical time
  • Some adults may be candidates for an otoplasty under local anesthesia
  • Limited post-surgical pain or side effects

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    Pediatric Otoplasty vs. Adult Otoplasty

    Otoplasty will likely look different from patient to patient. However, the technique does also change when performing the surgery on a pediatric patient versus an adult patient. The table below highlights a few of the differences.

    Pediatric Otoplasty Adult Otoplasty
    • More likely to use general anesthesia
    • Motivation may be to correct birth defects or prevent bullying
    • More likely to be due to birth defects or genetics
    • Patients need to be at least 5-6 years old before surgery
    • Ear cartilage and skin is more pliable
    • Recovery is often quicker and easier
    • Better candidates for local anesthesia
    • Motivation often is purely cosmetic and personal
    • More likely to be in response to an injury or trauma
    • Adults can undergo otoplasty at any age
    • Ear tissue may be firmer, requiring more invasive techniques or larger incisions

    The exact techniques may or may not differ depending on the patient and their needs. Regardless, it is never too late to consider a Seattle otoplasty surgery.

    Before & After Otoplasty Surgery


    Before undergoing otoplasty surgery in Seattle, you will meet with one of our Seattle plastic surgeons. They will determine if you or your child is a candidate for ear pinning. First, your plastic surgeon will want to know your goals and expectations for ear pinning surgery. Next, they may ask relevant medical history and lifestyle questions. Finally, your plastic surgeon may briefly examine the ears.

    At this point, they can determine whether you or your child is a good candidate for otoplasty. If so, they will describe the surgical technique, basic recovery, and answer any questions you may have. If they determine you or your child is not a candidate, they will discuss alternatives.


    Two parts of the ear often contribute to prominent ears. Your surgeon will plan your otoplasty surgery based on which parts of the ear they need to address. First, the cartilage on the back of the ear sometimes can push the ears outward. During this technique, your Seattle plastic surgeon will cut away extra cartilage and reposition the ear.

    Sometimes the upper fold of the ear can make the ear appear more prominent, or be missing altogether. In this case, the surgery involves creating the upper fold. In both cases, the technique usually takes under an hour for both ears. Any incisions are generally well hidden within the natural anatomy of the ear.


    Immediately following otoplasty surgery, you will wear a turban-like bandage around the head and both ears. This helps reduce swelling and keeps you more comfortable during the initial days of recovery. Depending on the patient or procedure, your plastic surgeon may prescribe pain medication. However, often, patients can manage any discomfort they have with over-the-counter medications.

    Dr. Santos or Dr. Jonov may give you other recovery instructions such as:

    • Sleep with your head elevated
    • Avoid strenuous activities for about two weeks
    • Prevent the area from becoming too hot or moist
    • Take or alter any necessary medications at your surgeon’s discretion
    • Try not to sleep on your side
    • Wear a protective headband at night after bandage removal if recommended
    A Before and After photo of an Otoplasty Plastic Surgery by Dr. Craig Jonov in Seattle and Tacoma

    Before & After Otoplasty

    Dr. Craig Jonov is the best. Seriously; if you're looking for someone who's both so competent and so personable, he's the one to go to. He knows his stuff and beyond; especially for rhinoplasties. I got a consultation with almost every surgeon in the Greater Seattle Area and Dr. Craig is the only one that felt comfortable to operate.


    Great customer service, extremely helpful and individualized. Dr. Craig Jonov is excellent! Overall an extremely easy process with his experience.


    If I could give ten stars I would haha. Very attentive & caring staff, made me feel very welcome & comfortable. Also the nurses/staff took great care of me prior & after my procedure.


    Everyone was super professional & put me at ease immediately. Would definitely recommend!


    Frequently Asked Questions

    What Is The Best Age For Otoplasty?

    The ears must be fully developed for a patient to undergo otoplasty surgery. For most people, this occurs by age five or six. Therefore, from that age onward, most patients with prominent ears are good candidates for the procedure. Your plastic surgeon can determine if your child’s ears are developed enough for otoplasty surgery.

    Is Otoplasty Permanent?

    In most cases, yes, otoplasty is permanent. Patients can injure their ear which can reverse or hinder results. Rarely, an inexperienced provider may create a non-permanent result, but this is exceptionally rare. Additionally, this is why it is important that otoplasty is not performed on children under a certain age. If the ears continue to develop after surgery, this can undo the results of the ear pinning procedure.

    Can You Pin Your Ears Back Without Surgery?

    For adults, there are cosmetic tapes that can pin the ears back. However, these have to be reapplied and can become troublesome or visible throughout the day. A technique known as incision otoplasty is also growing in popularity but is not viable for every patient. This technique uses only sutures to pin back the ears.

    Otoplasty surgery is the only permanent way to pin back the ears. Considering it is a minimally invasive procedure and involves little recovery, most patients wanting to make a permanent difference in their ears do eventually opt for otoplasty surgery.

    Will Insurance Cover It?

    Some insurance companies may cover otoplasty, especially if addressing a congenital defect or deformity. At Seattle Plastic Surgery, we do not accept insurance for otoplasty procedures. However, we do work with three outside financing companies: Care Credit, United Medical Credit, and Alphaeon. You can find more information about these options on our financing page.

    How Much Does Otoplasty Cost?

    Otoplasty at Seattle Plastic Surgery starts at $5,995. The exact cost of otoplasty surgery depends on the extent of the procedure and what is necessary for the best result. After a consultation, you will receive a personalized price quote based on your needs.

    The Best Ear Pinning Surgery In Seattle & Tacoma

    Seattle Plastic Surgery is a premier plastic surgery clinic in Seattle, Washington. Located in Seattle’s medical hub, First Hill, Seattle Plastic Surgery has served the city and patients from across the world for over two decades. Providing plastic surgery, cosmetic injections, and medical grade esthetic skincare, Seattle Plastic Surgery offers the best otoplasty Seattle and Tacoma provides.

    Dr. David Santos and Dr. Craig Jonov are Seattle plastic surgeons with decades of experience each. Dr. Santos specializes in facial plastic surgery procedures and Dr. Jonov focuses on a wide variety of plastic surgery. Both can perform otoplasty surgery and have helped many patients achieve their ideal ear contours.

    To learn more and schedule a consultation, call us at 206-324-1120. You can also reach out online using Price Simulator, chat, or contact form.