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  • Dr. Jean-Paul Azzi

Otoplasty for Children

When people think of plastic surgery, they generally picture aging adults longing to turn back the hands of time, or people who want perfect facial proportions. But what most people don’t realize is that plastic surgery goes far beyond nose jobs and facelifts. In fact, it’s not even exclusively for adults. Dr. Azzi has extensive experience correcting congenital deformities and birth defects in children, as well as helping kids to look more “normal” to avoid peer ridicule.

One of the most common aesthetic “imperfections” that children become self aware of is protruding ears, or “dumbo ears” as the kids call them. Misshapen or protruding ears can have a devastating effect on any adult’s self-esteem, but can be even worse for a child, and is often the cause of bullying and teasing. The psychological distress caused by protruding or prominent ears can reduce a child’s self esteem and lead to social avoidance behavior and poor performance in school.

Otoplasty, more commonly known as ear pinning, is a procedure that adults and children alike frequently undergo. Otoplasty can fix ears that are large, uneven, misshapen, or protruding from the head. More frequently than ever, parents are electing to correct their child’s ears sooner rather than later in order to avoid the social disadvantages and potential destruction of self-esteem. Plus, ear cartilage is generally softer and more moldable in a child compared to that of an adult. Therefore, otoplasty is usually easier and more successful when performed on children.

Otoplasty is a relatively simple procedure, but parents should still weigh the pros and cons to feel confident they are making the right decision for their child. We recommend that your child be at least 5 years of age before considering an otoplasty procedure. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the ears must be fully formed before otoplasty surgery should be performed. The second reason is that there is a balance that parents should consider – doing it before the child goes to school (to avoid teasing) and allowing enough time to see if the child perceives it as a problem.

Once the decision is made to undergo ear pinning surgery, you should talk to your child’s primary physician as well as an experienced plastic surgeon. The procedure is generally performed under general anesthesia in children and local anesthesia in adults, however, otoplasty can be performed safely and effectively under local anesthesia in children as well. There are different ear pinning techniques available, so be sure to talk to your plastic surgeon about which technique will best suit your child’s needs.

After the procedure, patients can immediately return to their routine daily activities. Otoplasty is known to have low rates of complication and high patient satisfaction. Post operative care may vary depending on the technique used and according to local practice. Patients can travel by plane at any time after the procedure. Some patients may be instructed to wear a protective headband for several weeks after the operation (particularly when sleeping). Surgeons will advise when hair can be washed following the procedure, generally two weeks post-op. Patients should be directed to take extra care in cleaning the area and drying it well afterwards. Swimming is not recommended for at least two weeks (preferably 4-6 weeks), and highly strenuous activity like contact sports should be avoided for a minimum of eight weeks.

Otoplasty patients report an excellent rate of satisfaction after successful surgery, with reports of improved social life, self-esteem and leisure activities. Parents report significant improvement in their children’s quality of life.

At The Palm Beach Center for Facial Plastic & Laser Surgery, we strive to provide our patients with natural results. Dr. Azzi is an expert in cosmetic ear surgery. He travels all over the world reconstructing children with deformed ears using their own ribs as grafts. He has also authored chapters on the subject in plastic surgery text books.

If you are considering ear surgery for you or your child, Dr. Azzi of The Palm Beach Center for Plastic & Laser Surgery can discuss the benefits and risks with you in great detail. Call us for a complimentary consultation at (561) 429-5403 or click here to email us.

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