Otoplasty for Kids

If your child has oddly shaped ears, or they are overly large or stick out too far from their head, others may bully them at school because of their looks. This can have emotional consequences such has not wanting to go to school, poor academic performance and low self-esteem. Surgery for protruding ears (otoplasty) can correct the appearance of your child’s ears.

Otoplasty surgery has become more common over the years. Parents are now more aware of how ears can impact their child’s confidence and self-esteem. While many parents may want to avoid any type of surgery, which is commendable, child ear surgery can be important to a chid if they are trying to cope with bullying and criticism because of their ears. The younger they have this procedure the better as it helps them avoid the impact others’ negative comments.

Otoplasty Corrects Specific Problems

An otoplasty has a range of procedures and each one corrects a specific problem. The most common procedures include:

  • Ear reshaping for children so they are in proportion with the size and shape of the head
  • Correcting asymmetrical ears where there are differences in the size or shape
  • Pinning ears that are protruding too far
  • Reducing the size of ears that are too big
  • Correcting ears that appear abnormal.

Making the Decision to Undergo Otoplasty

A child needs to be cooperative with their parents and surgeon to have a positive experience and good results. Do not pressure your child into having surgery as it could cause ongoing issues such as poor self-esteem and anxiety. Let them bring up the subject.

Your child may initiate the conversation when they tell you others are teasing them or that they feel self-conscious about how they look. Or, if you think others are teasing your child about their ears, ask them about it. This opens up the conversation and allows them to share how they feel. Everything may be alright which means you can have this conversation with your child when they are older. If they experiencing bullying, talk to them about the possibility of having surgery to correct their ears. Be open with your child. Give them all the information they need so they can make their own decision.

Pediatric otoplasty is suitable for children once their ears are fully grown. This means they must be at least five or six years old when their ears are nearly fill size and the cartilage has the strength to undergo corrective surgery. Before this age, ear cartilage is too weak and the ears too small to get good results.

By the age of six, children also have the capacity to participate in the decision making but young enough not to have spent years dealing with bullying.

Level of Maturity

Your child must be mature enough to understand what the process is for an otoplasty for youth. They should understand why they are having the procedure and be able to follow the surgeon’s instructions during recovery. It is also important that they recognise that an otoplasty is reconstructive surgery to correct their ears and may not improve their self-esteem or how they see themselves. An otoplasty simply normalises and restores their appearance rather than being for aesthetic reasons. If your child understands this, then they are likely ready for the procedure.

Otoplasty Procedure

Otoplasty surgery takes between one to two hours depending on the type of surgery required and is usually performed as day only surgery. Children will have a general anaesthetic so they can sleep through the procedure.

During the otoplasty, the surgeon makes an incision at the back of the ear, in the crease, for access to the cartilage. The surgeon manipulates and bends the cartilage into the correct shape and may use permanent stitches beneath the skin to help maintain the shape of the ear. Sometimes there is a need to remove a small amount of excess skin.

Once fully healed, there will be a faint scar at the back of the ear which fades over time.

How Safe is an Otoplasty?

There are always some risks with surgery, so it is understandable that you have concerns about your child’s safety when undergoing an otoplasty. Overall, this surgery is generally safe. The most common risk is infection, but this is low if you follow the post-operative care information. If your child does get an infection, antibiotics will fight the infection.

Some people believe that an otoplasty can affect their child’s hearing. This is a common misconception. Otoplasty surgery is on the non-functional part of the ear, not the eardrum or ear canal. There is no risk to a child’s hearing.

Recovering from an Otoplasty

It usually only takes children a couple of weeks or less to return to most of their normal activities.

There will be swelling and bruising which should resolve itself after two weeks but your child may have some tenderness in the area for up to three months. You will receive instructions on how to care for your child’s wounds to get the best results.

Your child can normally return to school after a week off. They will need to take extra care for up to four weeks after surgery to avoid damaging their ears while they are healing.

You may decide that an otoplasty is right for your child, so it is time to get the opinion of an expert. Schedule a consultation with a fully trained, experienced specialist plastic surgeon at Pure Aesthetics for advice that is in your child’s best interest.