For many of us Dumbo is an early childhood favorite. A delightful tale with engaging characters and songs, it teaches the value of a mother’s love and care, the value of friendship, and the value of self-confidence. Unfortunately, that self-confidence can be hard to maintain if a child is unfortunate enough to be born with large or protruding ears.
Because Dumbo is such an early favorite that children watch with indulgent grandparents on lazy Sunday afternoons, it becomes a powerful model of behavior, and, unfortunately, not all children are taught to model themselves after the best characters in the movie. Some children become like the teasing boys or snooty elephant matrons who tease Dumbo mercilessly. If your child has large or protruding ears, they can be subject to teasing at a very young age, at preschool or in kindergarten, beyond the eye or control of teachers and caregivers.
Ear Pinning Available as early as Age 4
Otoplasty, or ear pinning, is the only cosmetic surgery regularly performed on children. This is because the ears are a special case. Unlike most of our bodies, our ears have achieved close to their full size and shape by age 4. This makes them ideal sites for early intervention on the part of a skilled and sensitive plastic surgeon.
Much of children’s bodies are constantly changing. They grow right out of clothes and shoes. They lose their baby teeth to get adult teeth and even wisdom teeth. Not to mention all the changes of puberty and beyond, so most cosmetic procedures are not recommended for children. On the other hand, our ears reach their full size and shape very early, which means they often stand out and could benefit from corrective surgery. Not only this, but the cartilage in children’s ears is more easily shaped, making this a procedure that is best done at a young age.
Otoplasty is a safe and permanent solution
Otoplasty will not affect your child’s hearing because only surface-level changes are made on the ears. The surgery begins with an incision in the natural fold where the ear joins the head. The surgeon then may remove skin and cartilage to achieve the desired effect. At this time, the ear can also be reshaped as well. Sometimes, it is not necessary to remove any tissue, but simply to move the ear and hold it in its new position with sutures until it heals permanently in place.
The child will have to wear bandages for a few days, and if he or she is a side-sleeper, there may be some disruption of sleeping for a week, but the surgery heals quickly and children are allowed to return to their normal activities as soon as they feel able. And when they return to their play, they will be happier without the teasing they had experienced. The scarring is very slight and well concealed in the natural fold behind the ear.
Because the ears have finished growing before the procedure is performed, the changes are for life and need never be redone. As the child grows and moves on to higher grades and new schools and finds new friends, the unpleasant memories of their early days will be forgotten, and you can watch them grow knowing that you have done your duty as a parent to make sure they are happy in their childhood.
Choose Your Surgeon Carefully
It is always crucial to make sure you feel fully comfortable with your plastic surgeon before beginning any procedure. Make sure to thoroughly question any prospective surgeons. However, it is especially important that you do this when the patient is a child. Select a doctor with whom you have good feelings, one who seems positive and upbeat about the surgery and its potential, one with experience, and, in this case, one with a strong notion of the value of family ties and family legacies.
And, of course, otoplasty can also be performed on adults, either by itself or in combination with other plastic surgery procedures.