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Melbourne Institute of Plastic Surgery
253 Wattletree Road
Tel: +61 3 9508 9508
Fax:+61 3 9508 9588
Is Your Child Ready for Otoplasty?
While most cosmetic and plastic surgery is performed on fully grown adults, otoplasty, (also known as ear correction surgery), is a procedure most commonly performed on children between the ages of four and fourteen to reduce the size of their ears or set their ears back closer to their head.
Where it all began
Otoplasty was developed in ancient India, in the 5th century BC, by the ayurvedic physician Sushruta. Sushruta and his medical students developed otoplastic and other plastic surgical techniques and procedures for repairing and reconstructing ears, noses, lips, and genitalia that were amputated as criminal, religious, and military punishments. These days otoplasty is performed by skilled surgeons, like those at the Melbourne Institute of Plastic Surgery.
The best age for otoplasty
In the case of otoplasty, it is commonly recommended to perform the surgery on children, rather than adults, as children are ideal patients because their ear cartilage is still pliable. Having the surgery performed at a young age can also reduce the risk of bullying and subsequent low self esteem in later life.
The optimum age for an otoplasty patient is around six years old, due to the fact that the ears at this point are almost adult-sized, as well as the fact that most children will just be starting school around this time.
While performing ear surgery on a young child has its benefits, parents need to ensure that their child is mentally, physically and emotionally ready for this procedure to achieve best all round results.
Preparing your child for surgery
First and foremost your child needs to be involved in the decision to have otoplasty. In doing so, they will be more mentally and emotionally ready for the outcome of the surgery. Once the decision has been made by yourself and your child there are a few ways you can all prepare for the procedure:
Meet the surgeon
Helping to allay your child’s questions and concerns can be achieved by enlisting an experienced and knowledgeable surgeon who can answer any questions you or your child may have. It can be helpful for your child to establish a relationship with their surgeon prior to the procedure so they feel more comfortable and confident going in.
Go through the process together
Make sure your child understands exactly what will take during the operation and what to expect following the surgery, including post surgery care and treatment. This can help to demystify the entire experience as in many cases, a child’s imagination can make things significantly more scary than the real thing.
Clothing and creature comforts
Simple things such as clothing selection will aid in your child’s recovery. Clothing that is tight and needs to be put on and off overhead as opposed to loose, button up clothing may cause discomfort and frustration for your child following surgery. Also ensure there are a few of your child’s favourite creature comforts on hand to help your child feel safe and secure during their surgical experience.
What is involved?
During the otoplasty procedure, the surgeon will begin by making a small incision in the back of the ear. This provides access to the cartilage, which is then sculpted to the desired shape or angle. In other procedures, the cartilage is folded back to reshape the ear, excess skin is removed, and stitches are used to hold the new shape in place.
Otoplasty may also be performed to correct deformities of the ear such as microtia, a condition in which the ear lacks an external auditory canal. Microtia is treated at the Melbourne Institute of Plastic Surgery in Australia through reconstructive surgery using the opposite, normal ear as a pattern.
In the case of microtia, surgery is performed using either tissue from the patient’s own body (autogenous reconstruction), synthetic materials (alloplastic reconstruction), or a combination of the two. It is important that microtia and other ear deformities are treated by skilled surgeons specialising in these conditions to ensure the best chance of a good result.
To learn more about otoplasty, visit the Melbourne Institute of Plastic Surgery, complete a contact form or call us on (+61 3) 9508 9508.