When many people think of plastic surgery, they don’t usually think of kids having surgery. They might imagine a young woman considering breast surgery or an older person weighing the pros and cons of a facelift. Although cosmetic most procedures are for “adults only,” there are instances when better results can be achieved if the surgery is performed at a younger age.
Otoplasty, sometimes called ear surgery or ear pinning, is one of these procedures. The surgery can be performed on patients as young as age five, as long as the ears have finished growing, and there are major benefits of having the surgery as early as possible. With that said, not all kids are ready for it by the time their ears have matured. Read more about the surgery before deciding whether it’s right for your child or not.
What Is Otoplasty?
Ear pinning surgery doesn’t change the size of the ears, but it can change their shape and make them less prominent. The surgery gets its nickname “ear pinning” from the fact that it brings the ears closer to the head. It can also help to correct several other common ear deformities, such as “lop ear,” “shell ear,” or “cup ear.”
Surgery that changes the size of the earlobes or reconstructs earlobes that have been stretched out over time isn’t a type of otoplasty but its own procedure.
It’s very important for parents to remember that otoplasty is a surgical procedure–and a fairly invasive one. The surgeon might administer a local anesthetic with IV sedation during it or he might use a general anesthesia, depending on the circumstances.
During the surgery, the surgeon will typically place the incisions behind the ears. In some cases, the incisions might be in the front, in the crease of the ear. After surgery, they are usually very small and not noticeable.
Why Is Otoplasty Appropriate for Children?
It might seem unusual to recommend plastic surgery to children, but early otoplasty makes sense for some children. Unlike other areas of the body or face, the ears reach their full, mature size early in life. Most people have full-size ears by the age of six. Some kids have fully-grown ears even earlier, by the age of four or five.
Not only are the ears mature by the time a child is around the age of six, the cartilage in the ear is still pretty flexible at that age. As people get older, it gets stiffer and less malleable, making it more challenging to reshape the ears.
An important reason parents seek out otoplasty for their children is in an attempt to minimize bullying or teasing. Kids can be relentlessly cruel to one another, especially when one of their peers looks different. By scheduling the surgery before a child begins school, parents can reduce the possibility of bullying or teasing.
Finally, otoplasty can be an appropriate choice for children because they usually have much more flexible schedules than adults and don’t have the fear or worry of surgery that can develop with age. Kids who are not quite at school age don’t have to worry about taking time off from class or pressing pause on their activities. They are also less likely to remember any discomfort experienced after the surgery and won’t remember the procedure itself at all.
How to Decide if Otoplasty is Right For Your Child
Should you schedule otoplasty for your child? It can be a difficult decision to make. That’s why it’s a good idea to speak with a plastic surgeon who performs otoplasty to get expert advice.
Even with the advice of a surgeon, the final decision comes down to the parents. It’s worth weighing the pros and cons, such as some discomfort and expense now compared to potentially setting your child up for teasing and self-esteem issues later on. Some parents also decide to wait a bit, until their children are old enough to decide for themselves.
Otoplasty Isn’t Just for Children
Although otoplasty is often recommended for younger children, it can also be performed on teenagers and adults. The cartilage in the ears might be stiffer at that point, but a talented surgeon will still be able to reshape the area and reduce the prominence of the ears. One benefit of waiting until a person is older to schedule ear surgery is that general anesthesia is typically not needed. An adult or mature teenager can usually handle the procedure with a local anesthetic and IV sedation.
Back-to-school time can be an ideal time for parents to learn more about otoplasty and its potential benefits. Dr. Paul Vitenas, a Houston-based plastic surgeon, offers otoplasty to patients of a variety of ages. To learn more about the surgery, call 281-484-0088 to schedule a consultation today.