Otoplasty: Making the Right Decision for Your Child

Otoplasty, or ear pinning, is a cosmetic surgery procedure that is often resorted to for children whose ears are abnormally large or stick out too far. Otoplasty has been used to correct birth defects involving the ear, folded or cupped ears and those that are malformed, as well as ears that have been affected by accidents or burns.

While it may seem like a mere cosmetic change, the results can be astounding. Children with low self-esteem feel better about themselves when their ears appear more normal and for this reason, some parents opt to have the procedure done. However, there are a few things you need to consider before having the surgery performed on your child.

What Age Should Otoplasty Be Done?

Even if your baby’s ears seem too large, it is pretty rare to find a doctor who will do the procedure before the age of four when the ears have completed their growth. While the majority of otoplasties are done between 4 and 14, the earlier the procedure is done, the less emotional harm will be inflicted, thanks to teasing and taunts from other children. The longer you wait, the more emotional damage will be done, which can carry consequences into the adult years.

However, some parents feel that this is a decision the child should make, which is why they choose to wait until the child is able to make an informed decision. At the earliest end of the spectrum, most patients will barely remember the surgery, while it can be quite traumatic for an older child to be separated from his parents during the surgery and to be in pain. The decision will depend on the family.

How Long is the Recovery Period?

Otoplasty is usually an outpatient procedure. This means no overnight stay is required and the child can go home the same day, after an observation period to ensure there are no complications. This makes it a relatively trauma-free event in comparison to some other surgeries.

The majority of children who have this procedure will be able to resume their normal daily activities within a week. In general, the older the child, the faster the recovery, though this isn’t always true. Exactly what the procedure did will also affect the recovery time, since simple pinning of the ears is a fairly simple surgery and ear reconstruction is more complicated and may require more recovery time. The full recovery time is about a month and a half, during which time, the patient will need to take care not to rip stitches or cause further trauma to the ears. Again, this depends on the child . . . some children heal remarkably quickly. There are usually no complications involved with otoplasty.

Choosing a Surgeon

Ideally, the cosmetic surgeon who will perform the otoplasty will have plenty of experience in the field. There is a slight chance of over correction with inexperienced surgeons. Having a doctor who will work with the hospital you prefer, is also a good choice. This means you will be able to choose the hospital that is nearest you and that has the best facilities. Many parents look for a hospital that will allow them to be in the recovery room with their child, particularly for very young children. Like any surgical procedure, otoplasty is something that should be carefully considered and researched before having it done. Your child could benefit greatly, but it is the parent’s job to ensure that they are making the right decision for the future well being of their little one.

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