The world can be a cruel place, and for kids it can be particularly merciless. To prevent bullying and to help a child have the best childhood experience possible, parents might consider having their son or daughter undergo otoplasty, or ear surgery, at a young age.
There are a number of considerations when deciding whether ear surgery is the right decisions for your child.
A plastic surgeon can give you an idea of what to expect before, during, and after the procedure, and can evaluate your child’s particular situation and either recommend the surgery or not.
Consider the Age
One of the most important things to consider is age when deciding whether or not otoplasty is right for your child. While some plastic surgery procedures are best left until a person is fully grown, such as rhinoplasty, otoplasty can be performed on a person when he or she is still very young.
What matters most is that the ears themselves have finished growing, which typically happens by the age of 4 or 5. The cartilage of the ear needs to be formed enough and stable enough that the surgeon can operate on it.
The Child’s Health
Your child’s overall health is another thing to think about when considering ear surgery for him or her. The surgeon will review his or her medical history. Along with being physically healthy, the emotional and mental health of your child is also important.
In many cases, having the surgery performed at a young age is ideal, as the child is often not aware that his or her ears are protruding or overly large. But, it’s still essential that a child understand what the surgery will mean and that he or she isn’t frightened by the idea of it.
Results and Expectations
The results after otoplasty depend on what the patient wanted done to his or her ears. In some cases, the surgery is performed to reposition ears that protrude from the head, to make the ears less prominent. The procedure can also reduce the size of very large ears.
Some parents decide to have their child undergo otoplasty because the child’s ears are somehow misshapen. For example, if your child’s ears fold over or if his or her ears are uneven, the surgery can fix those concerns.
Often, the results from the procedure are visible right away, particularly if the surgery was performed to make protruding ears less prominent. Since the incision made during the procedure is located behind the ears, you don’t have to worry that your child will go through his or her life with noticeable scarring.
Initial recovery from ear surgery takes about a week. During that first week, your child might experience some pain or itchiness at the surgical site. He or she will have to wear a bandage for a few days. After the first few days, the surgeon typically replaces the bandage with a lighter one.
You’ll want to keep an eye on your child in the initial week after the procedure. Don’t let him or her pick at the bandage or scratch the area. You can discuss ways to distract your child or keep him or her from disturbing the surgical area with your doctor.
While your child will most likely be able to go back to school after a week, he or she will have to avoid physical activities for much longer. In most cases, it’s recommended that your child wait a month or two before resuming sports activities or exercise. He or she will most likely need a note to excuse him or her from gym class.
One other thing to think about when deciding whether or not ear surgery is right for your child is his or her schedule and the timing of the surgery. It’s often a good idea to schedule the surgery for a time in your child’s life when there’s not much else going on or during a period of transition.
While your child might not relish the idea of spending summer vacation recovering from surgery, it’s often the best time for the procedure, since he or she won’t have to miss school and will be able to heal from the surgery without a lot of questions from other students.
Dr. Michael Schwartz has more than two decades of experience performing facial plastic surgery. He is happy to answer any questions you might have about ear surgery for your child and whether the surgery is appropriate for your child. To schedule an appointment at his West Palm Beach plastic surgery practice, call 561-655-5562.