Otoplasty is the surgical reshaping of the ears. It is a fairly delicate and complicated procedure that is designed to correct natural abnormalities in the shape, structure or appearance of the ear lobes or ear cartilage. It is commonly performed to reduce the size of large ears or set prominent ears back closer to the head. The procedure has met with great success over the years and many patients are happy with the results of having more natural looking ears and the boost in self-esteem that goes with them.

Now, how’s about an ear piercing to go with those handsome new lobes?

Before you go off and make holes in your new ears, consider first that you may end up causing problems you never bargained for or – worse – possibly reverse some or all of the results of your ear surgery

Plastic surgeons who perform otoplasty feel it is generally safe to have the ears pierced at least two months after the surgery. They also warn that there is no guarantee against the risk of infection, unintended complications, or damage to the procedure by causing additional trauma to the ears. In some otoplasty procedures, a permanent suture is used to establish the correct or desired ear shape. An ear piercing may accidentally cut into the suture and undo the positive results of the otoplasty. There is also a risk of fracturing the ear cartilage or altering the appearance of the outer rim of the ear in an undesirable way. And piercing may actually increase the risk of complications associated with otoplasty.

Sure, it’s cool for a man to don an ear ring or ear plugs these days or for a woman to adorn her luxurious lobes with large ear rings. However, given the value of corrective ear surgery and the potential for damage caused by piercing, you have to weigh the risks against the benefits of piercing.

In general, you should wait at least six to eight weeks before you have your piercings done. And by all means, consult first with your plastic surgeon who has your best interests and physical appearance at heart.

Dr. Kyle S. Choe is a board certified facial plastic surgeon located in Virginia Beach. He can be reached at The Choe Center for Facial Plastic Surgery at 757.389.5850 for a personal consultation.