No parent wants to his or her child to be subjected to teasing or bullying. But in many cases, circumstances beyond a child’s control can cause the other kids to make fun of him or her, often mercilessly. A child’s ears can often lead to teasing by other children, especially if they protrude from the head or look different in another way.
While people may associate plastic surgery with vanity or a desire avoid aging, in some cases, it can provide a practical benefit and can be appropriate for children. Ear pinning, or otoplasty, can be performed on adults, but is more often performed on children, to help them avoid teasing and bullying and because it’s easier to shape the ears when a person is young.
Ear Problems in Kids
Ear pinning is performed to make ears that stick out and appear prominent look less so. A child’s ears might appear to jut out from the head for a few reasons. One reason is that there is too much cartilage in the middle of the ear. Another reason is that the ear is positioned on the head at an angle that’s larger than average.
Similar but different surgeries can be performed to correct other ear issues in children. If the child’s earlobes are abnormally long or large, the surgeon can remove a small amount of tissue from the lobe to reduce its size. Cupped or lopped ears, which look as though the ear is rolling in on itself, can be corrected through a different type of surgery, not otoplasty. If the ears are very small or portions of them are missing, reconstructive surgery is usually needed to build the ears.
Bullying and Other Concerns
While a person can wait until he or she is older to have otoplasty performed, it’s usually recommended for younger kids, in some cases, for kids as young as 7. Performing the surgery while a person is still young can help nip any instances of teasing or bullying in the bud. Some surgeons recommend the surgery before a child starts school, so that he or she won’t have to face taunts from other kids and so that he or she won’t remember having prominent ears.
Timing the Procedure
Although otoplasty is common in children, it’s important to postpone the surgery until a child’s ears have nearly finished growing. In many cases, the ears are nearly fully grown by age seven. Even if their ears are ready for surgery, some children might not be. When deciding whether ear pinning is right for your child, it’s important to look at his or her maturity and ability to understand what’s going on, as well as his or her ability to follow instructions.
The surgery will require some downtime after it, so it might be a good idea to schedule it for a period in life when your child won’t be busy or need to be active. A holiday break or summer vacation might be an ideal time. If you do schedule it during summer vacation, that will mean that your child will most likely not be able to swim or participate in summer sports or games.
Preparing for Surgery
You might want to speak to parents of children who have had otoplasty to find out what their experience was like and to find out how their child coped with the procedure. Every child is different, but seeing how one family reacted might give you an idea of what to expect.
The child’s surgeon will want to meet with him or her and you to evaluate the child’s health before surgery. Your child should be in good overall health before the procedure, to reduce the risk of any complications.
Paying for the Surgery
Raising a child is expensive. Ear surgery for a child can also be expensive. The good news is that there are programs available that make paying for it less of a burden. One option is to finance the surgery using something like CareCredit. Another option is to use a credit card to pay for the surgery. There are also instances when insurance might cover otoplasty, if the surgery is performed for reconstructive reasons. It’s a good idea to check with your insurance provider before scheduling a consultation to see if it will cover any part of the procedure.
In the Washington, DC area, Dr. George Bitar and Dr. Robert Centeno perform ear surgery on both children and adults. They are happy to sit down with you and answer any questions you might have. To schedule a consultation and learn more about otoplasty, call (703) 206-0506 today.
George Bitar, MD, FACS is an award-winning, board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon, the Founder and Medical Director of Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Virginia. He specializes in the latest surgical and minimally invasive techniques to scar management and reduction. Dr. Bitar is involved in groundbreaking research and education in plastic surgery and has authored numerous articles, abstracts, and chapters.