Otoplasty, or ear surgery, is one of the few plastic surgery procedures that is recommended for kids. While performing the surgery early in life has many advantages, there’s no denying that having surgery as a child can be challenging for all involved.
Knowing what to expect in the days and weeks after your child’s ear surgery can help you plan for the procedure. Knowing what your child can and can’t do while he or she recovers can also help your entire family through the recovery process.
The First Day
For the most part, children don’t need to spend the night at the hospital or surgical center after their ear surgery. Usually, the area around the ears is covered with a bandage that will help hold them in place and keep the incisions and stitches covered.
When you and your child get home from the surgery, it’s a good idea to have him or her rest in an upright position. A recliner is a great spot for your child to sit, since it can tilt back and is usually comfortable enough to doze off in. Keeping upright will help bring down any swelling around the ears. It will also help your child avoid putting pressure on the healing ears.
The first night back home, you may need to keep an eye on your child as he or she sleeps. It’s important that your kid sleep on his or her back, and that the help be slightly elevated. Putting a few extra pillows on the bed will help support the head during sleep. Check in throughout the night to make sure your child hasn’t flopped over to one side or another.
The First Week
The first week after otoplasty should be the most restful for your child. He or she may be up and about, but any major sports or physically strenuous activities should be avoided. You might want to go for walks together after meals or throughout the day, to keep him or her somewhat, but not too, active.
After a few days, your child’s surgeon might recommend switching to a thinner, lighter bandage, which will protect the still-healing incisions. Although discomfort is usually minimal after the surgery, if your child experiences any pain, you can give him or her medications, as prescribed by the surgeon. Cold compresses can be gently applied to the ears to help bring down any continued swelling.
During that first week after the surgery, the big question might be what does your child do? Think of the week after surgery as a chance to catch up on quiet activities. If your kid can read and enjoys doing so, make sure he or she has plenty of books to choose from. You might want to visit the local library before the procedure and stock up on books to read afterwards. Books on tape, comic books, and other picture books are also a great way for less avid readers or kids who are just beginning to read, to pass the time.
After Week One
After about ten days, most children are able to return to school, but a protective headband may be needed for up to two months. All activities can be resumed except wrestling.
Scheduling the surgery in the summer can make sense if you are worried about your child missing school or falling behind. Your child will only have to miss out on summertime activities, such as swimming in the pool or spending time at the beach, for the initial ten days.
As your child continues to heal, keep in touch with his or her surgeon. The surgeon will let you know when it’s OK for your child to start exercising or playing sports again and can provide advice and guidance if you are concerned about the healing progress.
Dr. Michael Schwartz, a West Palm Beach facial plastic surgeon, performs a number of otoplasty procedures on children throughout the year. If you have questions about the surgery or think it is the right option for your child, call 561-228-5888 to schedule a consultation today.