Plastic surgery and children aren’t words you normally hear in the same sentence – especially if its solely for cosmetic purposes. Because adults can decide for themselves if they want a surgical procedure done, but children are in the hands of their parents, deciding if your child needs a procedure is just one more very important (and complicated) decision parents will have to make.
One such case is whether your child should have cosmetic ear surgery, also known as otoplasty. About half of the patients that undergo otoplasty are children.
Cosmetic ear surgery is a common facial plastic surgery procedure that corrects protruding ears –which may first become apparent in your child’s first few years. The reason to consider whether your child should have otoplasty is because psychologists have found that the physical appearance of the ears could have a strong impact on the psychological development of children.
Best Age for Surgery Is
Since protruding ears can cause problems for children, the best age for otoplasty is between the ages of 5 and 6. At this time, the ears are fully developed, and the child is about to start school.
Bullying and teasing happens (even without protruding ears) and there’s no way of predicting what your child’s school life will be like, but it’s important to take some precaution. When your child starts school is also when your child starts to build his or her self-esteem. That’s why Dr. Bustillo recommends having the procedure done at this age.
Reasons Behind Large Ears
Ears protrude for two main reasons (and most likely, protruding ears are caused by both factors). The more common reason is due to the absence of the anti-helical fold. The anti-helical fold normally bends the ear closer to the head. If it’s underdeveloped, the ear sticks straight out from the head and becomes more prominent. The second reason is because the conchal bowl (the bowl-shaped part of the ear) is enlarged.
Sometimes only one ear protrudes — or one is floppy, which is commonly called a “lop ear.”
For Any Questions or Concerns, Go In for a Consult
During the consultation, Dr. Bustillo will listen to the concerns of the patient or the family of the patient if the patient is a child. He’ll perform a careful examination of the ears, measuring them, showing examples of previous otoplasty patients. He’ll discuss the otoplasty procedure in detail, explaining the results the procedure can and cannot achieve so that the patient and/or family can make an educated decision.
Expect careful preoperative physical analysis because there’s little room for error when it comes to this procedure. Dr. Bustillo will perform the otoplasty meticulously in order to achieve the most successful look. The reason that some ears appear too pinned to the head is because that surgeon either did not know how to achieve a normal ear appearance or made an error during the surgery. But don’t worry; Dr. Bustillo is well known for his natural results.
As with all procedures, there are some risks: Although rare, bleeding after an otoplasty can occur (especially if the patient takes medications that affect coagulation.) If this occurs, the incision will be opened, and any bleeding will be stopped, and then the dressing will be replaced. If the wound becomes infected (also rare), Dr. Bustillo will administer antibiotics. All this and more can be discussed during the consultation.
The otoplasty is performed via a small incision behind the ear. If the ear is missing the anti-helical fold, then several permanent stitches will be placed through the ear cartilage. When the stitches are tied, they’ll create the anti-helical fold, which will change the shape of the ear. With the fold in place, the ear will be closer to the head.
If it was the conchal bowl that was too large, then the conchal bowl will be carefully shaved and brought in closer to the head with permanent stitches.
In most otoplasties, combinations of both of those procedures are done. It takes Dr. Bustillo about an hour and a half to perform the otoplasty. For children and teenagers, general anesthesia will be used – and for adults, local anesthesia with oral sedation.
After the procedure is performed, the patient spends the night of the surgery resting in bed. It’s best that the patient keeps a liquid diet for the first night, and that the head is kept elevated by two pillows. The majority of otoplasty patients do not have any pain or discomfort, but a prescription for pain medicine will begiven just in case.
The following day, Dr. Bustillo will remove the bandage, and a removable elastic bandage will be placed over the ears – which will be kept on at all times for the first three days after the surgery. For the following seven days, the patient will wear the bandage only at night. The patient will then be seen 10 days after the surgery to have any of the remaining absorbable stitches removed (any that weren’t absorbed).
About six days after surgery, most patients return to work or school. All patients should avoid exercise for three weeks after surgery.
Dr. Bustillo is a board-certified facial plastic surgeon who has been practicing for over 10 years. He’s known for providing his patients with the results they want: Plastic surgery that looks both natural and conservative. For more information or to schedule your consultation, you can reach Dr. Bustillo’s Miami-based practice at 305-663-3380.