Las Vegas Plastic Surgery
Girl Undergoes Ear-Pinning Surgery to Correct Deformity
Over the last decade there has been an increased focus on childhood bullying in the schoolyard. ABC News recently told a story of a 7 year old with a congenital deformity of the ears who was the subject of teasing and bullying by her classmates as well as adults. This girl traveled from South Dakota to New York City to undergo surgical correction of her ears. The operation was paid for by a charitable foundation.
As a board certified plastic surgeon in Las Vegas, I am often asked about performing plastic surgery on minors. In my experience, it is usually best to examine each child’s case individually. Plastic surgeons often advocate for delaying cosmetic surgery until adulthood. Having said that, congenital abnormality of the ear usually lends itself to early correction as the ear is about 90% the size on an adult at age 7. Many physicians and cosmetic surgeons have advocated for correction of ear deformities (i.e. microcrotia, Stahl ear, cup ear, and prominent ear) before school age in order to avoid teasing and taunting. Children with congenital abnormalities are often not socially interactive with their peers. Sometimes this social isolation is as subtle as not wanting to play sports, as a girl with abnormal ears may not want to pull her hair back into a ponytail for fear of teasing.
At my practice in Las Vegas, we have taken care of many patients who have wanted otoplasty, or “ear-pinning,” performed for a while and finally had the procedure done. Of all the procedures that we do, this is the one that most often has the classic and dramatic unveiling scene when the bandages come off. In fact, it is not uncommon for an otoplasty patient to look in the mirror and cry tears of joy when the surgery is complete. If the patient is a child, their tears are often followed by their mother crying as well. In many cases the mother also had issues with her own ears. These are always some of my happiest patients when the surgery is completed.
Otoplasty is is still surgery, and one needs to weigh the risks and benefits of the surgery the same as they would with any other procedure. One also needs to weigh the impact that this procedure may have on the patient, especially if the patient is a child.
Is plastic surgery a panacea for school yard taunting, teasing and bullying? Certainly not. In some cases it may be an appropriate option for those with congenital abnormalities that can be addressed. It is always best to seek out a board certified plastic surgeon or otolaryngologist, commonly known as an ear, nose and throat surgeon, with experience in this area. Together, the patient, parent and surgeon can see if cosmetic plastic surgery is an appropriate option for the child’s health and self-esteem.
Jeffrey J. Roth, M.D., F.A.C.S.