Otoplasty or corrective ear surgery is the only cosmetic procedure that is performed on more children than on adults. The ears are fully developed by the age of four and most parents opt to have their child’s ears surgically corrected before psychological damage from ridicule and teasing in school occurs.
“Children can be very cruel at school,” says Dr. William Silver, CEO and founder of Premier Image Cosmetic & Laser Surgery. “Children with prominent ears get called names like “Dumbo” or “Radar” and can feel self-conscious and can actually be traumatized from the unwelcomed harassment.
Of course, Otoplasty/ear surgery is performed on thousands of adult patients each year. Although they tend to have come to terms with any stigma, many adults may still feel frustrated at not being able to wear their hair pulled back or a shorter hair style and swimming can be embarrassing as the prominent ears protrude through the wet hair. I see many young men who are entering the professional workplace or military for corrective ear surgery. These young men have been covering their prominent ears with a longer hair style, which is not acceptable in the professional and more significantly the military world.
When determining the best approach for Otoplasty, one must take the small child and parents into an environment that is non-clinical and comfortable. It is important the child feel at ease. “I like to show the child “before and after” Otoplasty pictures of other children and then I take their picture and with the video imager software, I morph what he/she will look like after their ear surgery,” Silver says. “The children enjoy this part and many giggles are heard as they not only look at other children, but their own ears transforming into perfectly pinned back ears. “ Adult patients appreciate the opportunity to see how they will look with normal shaped ears too.
Basically, with protruding ears there are three different deformities and can be present separately or in combination.
- Failure of the antihelix to fold (see diagram below). This is the most common.
- Deformity in the conchal bowl area making the whole ear stick out.
- Deformity in the lobule, the soft lower part of the ear.
Otoplasty or ear surgery usually takes about two to three hours and is performed as an outpatient procedure with little post-operative discomfort and a quick recovery time of about a week. “I fashion a protective bandage for the patient to wear the first few days,” Silver says. “It’s a good idea to keep the small child out of school the first week, as the wounds are still healing and there may be a little bit of swelling. And I don’t want the ears to get knocked,” Silver continued.
Otoplasty is a sculpturing technique performed with surgical instruments. It is always good to get a referral when considering corrective ear surgery. However, you still need to qualify the surgeon’s credentials. Make sure he/she is a board certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon with a considerable amount of experience in Otoplasty.
Dr. Silver walked into the patient room to check on his little patient Jaeger. Jaeger was in for a post operative check and was doing quite well. His sister and parents were all present. Jaeger was playing with his sister and Dr. Silver stooped down to ask her opinion, “Do you think Jaeger’s ears are better now?”
“No,” she replied, “he was jumping up and down on the bed and mom yelled at him to stop, but he still couldn’t hear her,” she replied. We all laughed.
“Otoplasty” is one of the most rewarding procedures a facial plastic surgeon performs,” says Dr. Silver. “The real joy comes in having the patients see the dramatic results immediately. In the young children who are aware of the changes, will express these feelings very quickly. Of course the adults are most often extremely happy, because they had no idea how easy it was to change something they had wanted for so many years.”
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