Otoplasty Treatment for Children
By Sheryl Pilcher on January 28, 2014
Otoplasty, more commonly called ear surgery, is an effective way of enhancing the structure and appearance of one’s ears. As a relatively safe and low-risk procedure, otoplasty is sought by our San Antonio patients as a way to correct a number of problems. Since many of these problems are genetic in nature, patients sometimes consider the procedure for their children, hoping to save them years of embarrassment. To better gauge whether ear surgery is appropriate for your child, let’s look at its potential benefits and risks.
What Can Otoplasty Solve?
Because otoplasty is an umbrella term for any cosmetic ear surgery, it can address a wide range of problems. Some patients may have overly large ears that they hope to have reduced in size, while other ears appear to protrude outward from the face. Conversely, a patient’s ear may have become damaged from an accident or from oversized earrings that “gauge” the earlobe. In all of these cases, a skilled plastic surgeon can reshape, reposition, or repair ear tissue to achieve the desired result.
For children who are potential candidates, the most common problem involves ears that appear too large and/or prominent. A preventative measure against school bullying or issues of self-image, parents seek to correct this early on. Fortunately, otoplasty is one plastic surgery treatment that poses minimal risks, even for young patients.
Are Children Good Candidates for Otoplasty?
Parents may be pleased to know that children aren’t just good candidates for ear surgery - they are often the best. This is because ear cartilage is still soft in children, making it far more malleable and easy to manipulate. It is also helpful for children to undergo an obvious change to their appearance at the beginning of their social and academic lives, so it can play a role in their formative years.
There is, however, a minimum age at which patients are recommended to have an otoplasty. Generally, children should be around six to seven years of age before having ear surgery, as this is the age when the ears have concluded the majority of their growth. At this point, a more accurate assessment and expectation can be formed regarding the surgery’s results.
The Otoplasty Procedure
The specific surgical technique for otoplasty varies from patient to patient, depending on individual needs. Ears that are being reduced in size will obviously require the removal of tissue, whereas some ears merely require the repositioning of tissue. After discussing your treatment goals with your surgeon, the procedure will approximate the following steps:
- An incision will be made behind the ear, just above the crease where it meets the scalp.
- From this incision, skin and cartilage may be removed, reshaped, repositioned, or a combination thereof.
- Sutures may be used to hold the cartilage in place. For ears that protrude, the cartilage will be pinned back toward the head, thereby pulling the ears into a more inconspicuous angle.
- The incision will be closed and the ear will be sutured in place, anchoring it until it heals naturally into its new position.
After surgery, patients should be prepared for some swelling, bruising, and discomfort, most notably over the first two to three days. Children will have to be cautioned against touching or irritating their ears. After about a week, the ears should have healed enough to show very little signs of surgery. At this time, children can also return to school and resume any activities that are not physically demanding.
Come In for a Consultation
Any plastic surgery procedure, and particularly one for younger patients, should be discussed thoroughly with an experienced professional. If you think otoplasty may benefit you or your child, come in for a personal and comprehensive consultation with Dr. Pilcher, wherein your questions and concerns can be fully addressed. Contact our office to schedule an appointment or to learn more.
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