The vast majority of cosmetic surgeries are limited to adult patients, and for good reason. These surgeries are elective. They should only be performed on patients who understand the procedure as well as the benefits and drawbacks of surgery. Reconstructive surgery and otoplasty (ear reshaping surgery) are two exceptions to this rule.
Most people understand the motivations behind reconstructive surgery for children. However, some people have more difficulty accepting ear surgery for children. The truth is that plastic surgeons often recommend that the surgery be performed earlier rather than later. Often, this is around the age of 5 or 6. Many parents do choose this surgery for their young children, and most of them do not regret this decision. So what motivations do parents have for choosing otoplasty on behalf of their children? Here are 5 good reasons why.
#1: Preventing Bullying
Kids can be cruel. If you were ever bullied in school, then you know how damaging, embarrassing, and frightening it can be. Children who are born with ear deformities or ears that stick out are easy targets for bullies. Understandably, parents want to reduce the opportunities their kids have for being teased. Otoplasty can be one way to help prevent the problem before it starts. Of course, kids can be bullied for all kinds of things, but abnormal ears don’t have to be one of them. Young children may not even care that their ears don’t look the same as their peers, but they soon will if they are bullied about their appearance.
#2: Encouraging a Healthy Self-Esteem
A healthy self-esteem should come from within. But that’s difficult to encourage in children if they are receiving other messages at school. If you tell your child they’re perfect just the way they are, yet bullies at school are jeering at them for their unconventional appearance, cultivating healthy attitudes is going to be difficult. It will be easier to help your young child build and maintain a healthy self-esteem if they don’t have to worry about their ears.
#3: Less Trauma
Though many parents are scared at the prospect of their young children going through surgery, the truth is that kids are very resilient. The procedure is normally performed under general anesthesia when the patient is young, but the recovery is generally quite easy. Discomfort can usually be controlled with over-the-counter pain medication. And children bounce back quickly after the surgery. They are also unlikely to remember much about the experience later in life, reducing trauma and making the event just a part of life.
#4: More Responsive Cartilage
The ears mature early, which is why the procedure can be performed on young patients. However, as we get older, the cartilage that makes up our ears becomes harder and more difficult to shape. Young children generally get very good results from otoplasty surgery because their ears are still malleable and respond well to surgical shaping.
#5: A Smooth Transition
Parents often choose otoplasty for their children early in life to avoid some of the transitional issues that can occur with surgery later on. First, choosing otoplasty before a child enters school can head off bullying altogether. Children who are still in school have summer vacation, so there is an opportunity for recovery and healing during a period of downtime. Young adults who undergo otoplasty have to contend with work schedules and other obligations, which can make the transition more difficult.
Is Otoplasty Right for Your Child?
Even though many parents decide that otoplasty is the right decision for their young child, every situation is different. If you’re wondering what to do, the best next step may be to speak with an expert and get their opinion. Choose a reputable plastic surgeon who will give you advice with your child’s best interest in mind.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider scheduling a meeting with renowned facial plastic surgeon Dr. Edward Buckingham. Dr. Buckingham is board-certified, compassionate, and he will be able to help you get the information you need to make the best decision for you and your child. For more information, call Buckingham Center in Austin, TX, at 512.401.2500 today!