Otoplasty – What is Otobrading ?

Otoplasty or ear pinning surgery is truly an artform. One of the challenges to good successful lasting outcome rests on manipulating cartilage. The external ear is mostly genetically pre-shaped cartilage with a tight skin envelope. Otoplasty surgery is an attempt to manipulate cartilage to reshape it to a more desired shape. One important maneuver during the surgery is to bend the cartilage to make sure the newly ‘bent’ cartilage stays in that position. This sometimes involves ‘sanding’ down or otobrading of cartilage in one direction to fold it in the opposite direction. This is called the Gibson’s principle.

I use a special instrument called an otobrader. It is designed to create a controlled injury to the fibers of cartilage so that I can bend and shape it. This allows me to create a shape that I am looking for. It should be noted that not every patient needs otobrading, so this depends on the severity of the protusion of the ear.

Case below illustrates the power of this technique. You can see how the upper part of the flailing ear cartilage has no shape and definition. Otobrading combined with very well placed sutures allows the cartilage to bend to create definition, where this was lacking . With this technique, our recurrence or « bounce back » rates have diminshed quite nicely over the years. When you come for an otoplasty consultation, I will closely examine this issue for you. Remember that not every otoplasty patient needs otobrading. But otobrading can be a useful technique allowing a more artistic, long lasting and natural result.