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I Had My Ears Pinned Back: A Case Study

By: Kathryn Senior PhD - Updated: 17 Apr 2010 | comments*Discuss
Pinnaplasty Pinnaplasty Surgery Ear

Graham, now in his late 20s, is having the time of his life. His social life has never been busier, he changed career three years ago and has just been promoted to a regional sales manager in his new company and has been going out with Linda for 18 months and is seriously thinking about ‘popping the question’.

“Its all so different now compared with 5 years ago. When I was 22 I was miserable, depressed and spent most of my time watching TV in my room in my parent’s house. I had a dead-end job and never went out and was basically hiding from the world,” explains Graham.So what brought about this transformation? Something as simple as having an operation to pin his ears back...

Protruding Ears Cause Heartache

“I grew up in a fairly mixed area of Manchester – people around here are tough and there is a lot of bullying in the schools. My ears stuck out about 90 degrees and look huge compared to my head, right from when I was in primary school. I was a natural target,” he says.

Graham’s ears did stick out but his parents were adamant that he should learn to stand up for himself. “My dad thought plastic surgery on ears was for wimps...” recalls Graham. As the ears are one of the first parts of the body to reach full size, this made things even worse for Graham at that all-important transition between primary and secondary school. “I had sort of got used to being in the top year at primary, and was bigger than some of the other kids so, although they still taunted me, I did stand up to them quite well,” Graham remembers.

At secondary school, meeting new people from other schools led to a new outbreak of bullying and Graham was intensely miserable. “I ended up doing really badly at school – I got three GCSEs but I could have got 8 or 9 if I hadn’t spent all my time hiding and bunking off – all because of my ears sticking out.”

Getting a Job

Once he left school, Graham got a job in a local frozen food factory. For a while things were easier. “People at work are a bit less into bullying and name-calling, particularly the older ones and I just got my head down, grew my hair and although the work was boring, I did get regular money.”

By the time he was 20, Graham had slid back into depression. Although his ears weren’t noticeable under his long hair so much, he lacked confidence and rarely went out. “There was no hope of getting a girlfriend, so I became a house recluse. I rowed constantly with my dad, who just called me a lay-about. I began to really hate him for not doing anything about my ears,” says Graham.

Ear Correction Surgery

A turning point came when Graham’s mum, who regularly played bingo, actually won £10 000 one night. She had secretly wanted to do something for Graham and his ears, so decided to tell Graham’s father that she had only won £5000. They went on holiday and had a great time – but she gave the other £5000 to Graham to have his ears pinned back at long last.

“In fact, the operation didn’t cost nearly that much but I was overwhelmed by the generosity of my mum. I booked in for the surgery and had it done about 3 months later. It was only a day case – I didn’t have a general anaesthetic – and I was home later. All this was while my parents were on the big dream holiday, so my dad didn’t know a thing,” says Graham, who used the rest of the money to fund a year at college to get some better qualifications. “The next year, I was taken on by a company in central Manchester as a trainee sales account manager – and I have never looked back,” grins Graham.

What is Pinnaplasty?

Pinnaplasty surgery is a fairly minor cosmetic surgery in which the cartilage in the pinna, the outer part of the ear, is reshaped and then fixed into a new position using special plastic stitches. In Graham’s case some of the original cartilage was actually taken out to give a better result. As the ear heals, the stitches hold the ear in place and scarring is usually minimal.

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