Although most plastic surgeries are only intended for adults, there is one surgery that’s often recommended for children. Otoplasty, or ear surgery, is performed to make the ears look smaller or less prominent. While it can be appropriate for adult patients, the best time to undergo ear surgery is usually around the age of five or six, right at the time that the ears have stopped growing.
Otoplasty is usually recommended for young children because the cartilage in the ears is more flexible and pliable at a young age. It gets stiffer and harder to manipulate as a person gets older. Another benefit of otoplasty early in life is that it can help to stop bullying before it starts. Kids often get teased relentlessly for looking different. Making a child’s ears less prominent or repositioning protruding ears so that they don’t stick out abnormally can help to prevent that teasing before the child enters school.
Of course, otoplasty is a major surgery. Deciding to move forward isn’t something parents should take lightly. Once you’ve decided that ear surgery is right for your child, however, here’s what you can do to help them prepare.
Talk About the Surgery
One of the first things you can do to help your child get ready for ear surgery is to have a talk about it. Depending on your child’s age and whether or not they are in school, you might have already had a few talks about their ears. Some children bring up the subject themselves, as they are embarrassed by their ears and want to stop the teasing. They might ask you if they can do anything about their ears or wish that they had different ears.
It might also be the case that your child isn’t aware that their ears stick out or hasn’t experienced any teasing about them yet. Some parents choose to have their child undergo otoplasty as a preventative measure. They want to save their child from ever experiencing any bullying about their appearance.
You don’t have to go into too much detail about the surgery, just the explain the basics to your child. You don’t want to stir up any self-esteem issues or make them feel that their ears are a problem if they don’t feel that way already. It’s also important to explain that the child will be “asleep” during the surgery and won’t feel anything, but that when they wake up, their ears might feel a little sore.
Have Your Child Meet the Surgeon
As with any other facial plastic surgery, it’s important to have a consultation with the plastic surgeon before your child’s ear surgery. The consultation gives your child a chance to meet their doctor and to ask more questions. Since the surgeon is the expert, they will likely be better able to explain the surgery and answer your child’s questions than you are yourself.
Get Them Ready for Recovery
Another part of preparing your child for otoplasty is explaining what the recovery process will be like. Your child will most likely need about a week of “taking it easy” after the surgery. That means no school and no other activities, such as daycare or camp. If your child plays sports or has other after-school activities, they’ll have to skip out on those for a while as well.
It’s also a good idea to help your child prepare for some discomfort after the surgery. Explain that they will have some incisions behind the ears and that it’s in important not to touch or pick at them. Let them know that if they feel any pain after their surgery, they can let you know and you’ll help them feel better, with medicine or ice.
Put a Positive Spin on it
Although the end result of otoplasty can be positive for many kids, the idea of surgery and spending time recovering can be intimidating. It’s a good idea to give the entire process a positive spin. For example, instead of focusing on the things your child will miss while recovering at home, brainstorm things they can do, such as drawing pictures for their friends, building a Lego castle or playing video games.
You can also get them a special treat to enjoy after the surgery, such as their favorite ice cream or a new toy to play with while they recuperate.
A board-certified facial plastic surgeon in West Palm Beach, Florida, Dr. Michael Schwartz has more than two decades of experience helping patients achieve their goals. To learn more about otoplasty and what you can do to help your child prepare, call 561-228-5888 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Schwartz today.