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Otoplasty in Children and Teens

Posted April 16, 2012 in Otoplasty, Plastic Surgery

young kid smilingAdults often forget how difficult growing up can be. As we grow older, many of us begin to look at kids as the epitome of innocence and purity, as uncorrupted angels who have yet to face the real problems that the world has to offer. But then, when we think back on our own youths, many of us remember the taunting, the bullying, the tears. Yes, indeed, kids can be cruel. And when you’re a kid, yourself, that cruelty can strike deep and hard.

While most adults try to impart to children that differences should be celebrated, the fact is that physical abnormalities can lead kids to become the subjects of mean-spirited jokes and ridicule. This is particularly true of children with disproportionately large or protruding ears. What might seem like a mild joke to an adult can fill children with insecurity and feelings of self-consciousness that will follow them for a lifetime.

There are many abnormalities that children simply must live with; fortunately, however, large or protruding ears are not among them. At her practice serving communities throughout San Francisco, plastic surgeon Kimberly Henry performs ear reshaping surgery, clinically known as otoplasty, on patients as young as five years old. These children need never know what it’s like to be ridiculed simply because their ears are larger or stick out further from their heads than those of their peers.

What Is Otoplasty?

Although the ears continue to grow throughout our lifetimes, their basic shape and proportion are apparent from birth. By the time a child reaches the age of five or six, his or her ears will have matured to the point that, if they are disproportionately large, the child will never “grow into” them. Likewise, if the ears protrude too far from the head or are otherwise undesirably shaped, they will appear that way for the rest of the child’s lifetime without surgical intervention.

Otoplasty is a relatively simple outpatient procedure in which incisions are made in the back of the ear in order to “pin” it closer to the head. During the procedure, the size and shape of the ear can also be adjusted through the removal of cartilage. Sutures are used to ensure that the new shape and position of the ear are maintained. These sutures are removed after 10 to 20 days, at which point the patient’s newly shaped ears should look completely natural.

It should be noted that otoplasty is as appropriate for children and teenagers as it is for adults. It is safe and effective for children from the age of five or six, but even our adult San Francisco facial cosmetic surgery patients with misshapen ears can benefit from the procedure.

Patients in their late teens often combine otoplasty with rhinoplasty, or nose reshaping surgery, so that they can enter adulthood with their facial features in perfect harmony.

Contact Dr. Kimberly Henry Today

If your child or teen has disproportionately large or protruding ears and you would like further information about how he or she might benefit from otoplasty, we encourage you to contact our plastic surgery practice in the San Francisco area today.

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