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When Is It Right to Have Your Child Undergo Cosmetic Ear Surgery?

4 Minute Read: 

Choosing whether or not to have your child undergo cosmetic ear surgery (otoplasty) is a highly personal decision made by loving parents who have weighed the pros and cons of childhood surgery.

A sad little boy with protruding ears.

Otoplasty is designed to reshape and reduce the size of your child’s ears. It is often sought in the following circumstances:

  • Misshapen or asymmetrical ears
  • Very large or prominent ears
  • Protruding ears
  • Unsatisfying results from a previous ear surgery

How Being Teased About Having Large or Protruding Ears Can Affect Your Child

Children with prominent ears are often ridiculed, teased, and bullied by others. This may contribute to your child becoming self-conscious or suffering psychological distress. 

On the other hand, some kids can brush it off more easily and, with parental support, learn the value of accepting themselves completely despite their prominent or protruding ears.

Deciding for or Against Otoplasty

Your decision to move forward or pass on cosmetic ear surgery is likely to be determined by several factors:

  • How your child copes with having large ears
  • Your financial situation
  • The risks associated with surgery

Parents should consider these variables and discuss them, but try to keep this fact in mind: 

Children will respond differently to having prominent ears and the teasing they must endure. 

If your child shows signs of emotional pain or anger, is withdrawing from activities, or directly vocalizes their discomfort, they will need extra love and support to help them deal with these all too human stressors. 

However, while nurturing will help, it doesn’t typically stop the feelings from returning, and you may want to consider otoplasty for them if at all possible. 

Most Common Otoplasty Risks

As with any major surgery, the risk of infection, bleeding, or a negative response to anesthesia can occur during or after cosmetic ear surgery.

One of the most significant contributors to surgical complications is tobacco use, which for children is certainly unlikely.

Other risks associated with otoplasty are rare but can include:

  • Scarring – Permanent scarring is to be expected with otoplasty, but these scars are usually located behind the ears or hidden in the ear creases.
  • Asymmetry – This may occur due to issues with the surgery itself or the healing process. 
  • Altered skin sensation – Repositioning the ears can sometimes temporarily affect skin sensation, but this is seldom permanent.
  • Allergic reaction – An allergic reaction to surgical tape or another material used during or after surgery can occur.
  • Issues with stitches – Stitches can sometimes move to the skin’s surface, causing irritation and requiring removal or even additional surgery. 
  • Overcorrection – Cosmetic ear surgery may create an unnatural contour or make the ears appear too close to the head.

Choosing the Right Time for Otoplasty

Otoplasty is best performed around age six as the ears have fully developed, although children as young as four who have extremely large ears or severe ear protrusion may be eligible for surgery.

Because cosmetic ear surgery is seldom covered by health insurance, if you choose otoplasty for your child, you may need time to save up for the procedure. 

You can also consider a healthcare credit plan like CareCredit® or check with your surgeon to see if they provide any in-house financing options.

If your child has been teased or bullied to such an extent that they are clearly in emotional pain, the sooner they undergo surgery, the better. 

However, if your family is planning a distant move, this might be the perfect time for your child to receive treatment, as they can start fresh in their new school and neighborhood without any further attention being directed at them due to the size or profile of their ears (past or present).

Choosing the Right Surgeon for Otoplasty

This is the most important part of your decision-making process regarding cosmetic ear surgery. You want a board-certified plastic surgeon who has extensive experience performing otoplasty. Choosing a highly-qualified surgeon will reduce your child’s chances of experiencing complications considerably while helping to ensure ideal results.

Your Wichita, Kansas Otoplasty Surgeon

Dr. Matthew Conrad is a well-respected and board-certified plastic surgeon dedicated to producing excellent cosmetic results for his otoplasty patients in or around Wichita and all of Kansas

Have questions? Call Dr.Matthew’s Wichita, KS, office at (316) 681-2227 or use our contact form to reach us online.

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