There has been an increase in media attention surrounding children and elective plastic surgery. Should parents accept their children as they are or should they protect them from potential self-confidence issues or teasing from their peers? Everyone has an opinion on the matter, but with the help of a trusted facial plastic surgeon, parents will most likely make the best decision that will benefit their child. The most common plastic surgery procedure for children is Otoplasty, or corrective ear surgery, which pins the ear back closer to the head, correcting a prominent ear or lop ear deformity. Children who undergo this procedure are typically between the ages of four and fourteen, although many adults choose to have Otoplasty as well.
A child’s ears are most often developed enough by age four to undergo surgery. At this time deformities can be accurately assessed and a surgeon can take appropriate steps to correct the issues. Children’s ears are more malleable at a younger age making it easier for the surgeon to shape the ear. The most common corrective surgeries are for protruding or prominent ears, large or deformed earlobes, “lop ear “deformity, and other less common congenital ear malformations that occur during embryogenesis. There are also surgeries available for children who have Microtia, to correct all or part of a missing ear as a result of a birth defect and less commonly a traumatic injury.
During an Otoplasty, the surgeon uses inconspicuous incisions on the back of the ear to access the cartilages. The surgeon then sculpts the ear cartilages, re-positioning them closer to the head for a more natural-looking appearance. Sometimes excessive cartilage may need to be removed to create the ideal appearance. Permanent sutures are used to hold the cartilage in place while the healing process occurs and the new shape becomes permanent. A bandage and hard ear cover will then be wrapped around the head to protect the ears from trauma and insure they are held in the proper position during the early healing period. Skin stitches will stay in for about 5-7 days and then will be removed by the doctor.
After surgery, patients may experience swelling, tingling, or discomfort in the area of the incision. Antibiotics are normally prescribed to prevent infection and a pain medication may also be used to manage discomfort. Children must take extra precautions during the healing period by refraining from playing or sports activities or other movements that may cause damage to the ear area. The heightened precaution period following the surgery is normally around three weeks. Consulting with a dual board certified facial plastic surgeon when considering surgery on the face, head, or neck helps to make sure you are using a qualified surgeon with the highest level of training and certification to perform your procedures.
Post provided by Benjamin C. Stong, MD