Getting Otoplasty on the NHS

Who Has Otoplasty?

According to an NHS website, between one and two percent of the UK population think that their ears stick out. Some individuals are extremely self conscious about the shape of their ears and feel embarrassed in public. This can be partly due to a combination of childhood teasing or playful comments from their peers as adults. Either way, the distress caused by the perception of one's ears being to big or protruding more than they should, has led many people to seek ear reshaping surgery. Otoplasty is normally performed in private cosmetic surgery clinics but can be provided free on the NHS in certain cases.

What is Ear Pinning and Can I Get it Free?

Ear pinning is another term used to describe an otoplasty procedure carried to correct protruding or /'bat ears./' Ear pinning or otoplasty surgery is not normally provided on the NHS because it is considered as a cosmetic procedure. However, if it can be proven that the protruding ears are causing psychological trauma serious enough to endanger the psychological well being of the patient, then the NHS may approve free otoplasty. For this to happen a patient must be referred to NHS psychologists or psychiatrists by their general practitioner. Upon referral, the NHS team will assess whether there is sufficient psychological or emotional damage being done to warrant otoplasty surgery being carried out free by the NHS.

How is Otoplasty Performed?

Ear reshaping or otoplasy is a surgical procedure used to correct ear deformities. It is usually performed to reduce protruding ears also referred to as “bat ears”, but can equally be used to change the overall size or shape of the ears. Incisions are made behind the ears in the natural fold where the ears meet the head. The skin is then peeled back to reveal the ear cartilage which is either cut into shape or moved closer to the head to reduce protruding ears. Dissolving stitches are used to hold the corrected cartilage into place and any excess skin is trimmed off before the skin is stitched over the newly formed ear. The whole procedure usually takes between one and two hours to perform and is normally carried out under local anesthetic with sedation or general anesthetic.

Reconstructive Plastic Surgery

Reconstructive otoplasty surgery differs from cosmetic otoplasty due to the intention of the procedure. Cosmetic plastic surgery of any kind can be said to be purely for the purposes of beautification and cosmetic ear pinning surgery or otoplasty is usually performed to correct bat ears or to reshape them. Cosmetic surgery is not normally paid for by the NHS as it is not considered as medically necessary. Reconstructive plastic surgery is performed to correct deformities caused by injury, congenital disorders or disease. Reconstructive plastic surgery is normally paid for by the NHS but is also available from private plastic surgery clinics.