Surgical Arts Centre
Dr. John Holtzen
1201 Westwood Drive, Suite A
Hamilton, MT 59840
Prominent Ears, Children & Self-Esteem
A few months ago, a six-year-old Utah boy was in the news for having a
relatively common and minor surgery: otoplasty. Why was this procedure
so notable and newsworthy? It was because the boy was receiving the cosmetic
operation pro bono and because he was having the surgery to stop relentless
bullying at school.
According to ABC News, Gage Berger has had protruding ears since birth
- and the teasing started as soon as he entered school. His parents say
that his protruding ears were making it very difficult for their son to
enjoy school, make friends, or gain any sort of confidence. They researched
otoplasty (cosmetic ear surgery) as a potential solution and found that
it perfectly fit their son's needs. They ran the idea past Gage, who
was thrilled with the prospect of having normal-looking ears.
The boy had the two-hour surgery accompanied by his stuffed tiger. His
parents reported that he is already having a better experience at school
and that his confidence is higher than ever before.
Otoplasty and cosmetic surgery for children
Cosmetic surgery is not often recommended for children as young as Gage
Berger. However, certain types of plastic surgeries, including ear surgery,
nose surgery, breast reduction surgery, and acne scar reduction surgery,
are often cited as acceptable and helpful for those under 18 by a many
doctors, surgeons, and national medical organizations, depending on the
details of each individual case. These procedures correct issues that
harm children's self-esteem, make them stand out in a crowd, and lower
their overall quality of life. Getting these cosmetic surgeries, many
say, is more like getting braces or cleft palate surgery and less like
getting a facelift or breast augmentation.
Otoplasty is a perfect example of a sensible cosmetic procedure for many
children for the following reasons:
The surgery easily fixes deformed ears that can lead to teasing and self-esteem
issues even at an early age.
The operation is short, relatively safe, and has a relatively fast recovery period.
The ears are mostly finished growing by age 5, making the results viable
over the long term.
Studies have confirmed that otoplasty in children has overwhelmingly positive
outcome for children which lasts into adulthood.
Otoplasty is a surgical procedure in which the ears are reshaped so that
they are symmetrical and lay flush against the head. The surgery is designed
to correct for overly protruding or malformed ears.
The procedure, which can take place in a surgeon's office, an outpatient
surgical facility, or a hospital, takes about two hours to complete. The
facility and type of anesthetic used for each patient is determined doctor
and individualized to the patient's needs. The recovery process involves
wearing an earband for one to three days, followed by a week or two of
further healing. All swelling should disappear by three months, and most
scarring will remain hidden behind the ear. Children often undergo otoplasty
during a time off from school such as summer vacation.
The surgery is recommended for anyone over the age of five years who wishes
to have less prominent ears. The surgery is not often covered by insurance
plans, although some health care policies cover the repair of an abnormal
body part. You should speak with your doctor and your insurance company
about cost, payment, insurance coverage, and financing.
Before deciding on the surgery, doctors recommend that your child is evaluated
and briefed. Children should understand the consequences of the procedure,
have realistic expectations regarding results, and understand that the
outcome is more or less permanent.
Studies regarding ear surgery and children
A 2012 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Otorhinolaryngology
followed up with 36 people of all ages who underwent otoplasty between
2009 and 2010. Researchers found that the vast majority were pleased with
the results of their cosmetic surgery and that their quality of life had
improved after the procedure. This satisfaction was equally apparent in
patients of all ages and both sexes.
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive &
Aesthetic Surgery surveyed people who had an otoplasty procedure between
the ages of 5 and 16 and between the years 1999 and 2003. The study found
that 97 percent of respondents reported an increase in happiness, 92 percent
reported an increase in self-confidence, 79 percent noted improved social
experience, and all reported that bullying was reduced or eliminated.
A 2007 study published in Aesthetic Plastic Surgery examined the postoperative
satisfaction of teens who underwent a cosmetic surgical procedure, including
They found that 94 percent of people who had a plastic surgery procedure
as teens were still satisfied with the results and that the group was
not more likely than other teens to undergo a second cosmetic procedure.
Otoplasty at the Surgical Arts Centre
Could otoplasty be a solution for your protruding ears or your child's
protruding ears? At the Surgical Arts Centre, we are happy to discuss
whether you or your child is a good candidate for this procedure based
on the patient's medical history, their maturity, and their reasons
for requesting the surgery. Talk with our team if you have a question
about otoplasty, if you want to learn more about our ear surgeries, or
if you would like to schedule a consultation.
Questions and or comments regarding this week's health column please
contact Dr. John Holtzen at the Surgical Arts Centre, 1201 Westwood Drive,
Suite A, Hamilton, MT 59840 or 805 S. Reserve Street, Missoula, MT 59801.
Working together to build a healthier community!