Age Considerations During Ear Surgery

When it comes to facial features, the ears usually don’t get much attention. But if they’re sticking out from the sides of the head, then all eyes are on the ears. While there’s no physical health risks associated with protruding ears, children with this feature often get teased by peers and classmates. This can lead to embarrassment, low self-esteem, and even depression. The good news is there is a relatively simple ear surgery procedure, known as otoplasty, that can correct the issue. In fact, it’s one of the few plastic surgery procedures that can be performed on children.

If you’re a parent of a child with protruding ears, then you may be wondering: What’s the best age for ear surgery? At Northeastern Plastic Surgery, we are experts on otoplasty and often recommend that a child be at least 5 years old before his or her parents consider elective ear surgery for the following reasons:

  1. Physical Development
    Human ears grow and develop much faster than the rest of the body. By age 5, the ears are at 80% of their final adult size. You can be confident that your child’s ears won’t be growing much more and any growth that does occur won’t impact the results of the otoplasty.
  2. Psychological Development
    Multiple studies have shown that children become more self-aware of their thoughts and appearance around age 5. A five-year-old may start to notice his or her larger ears in the mirror and may compare them to others. For this reason, it may be beneficial to repair prominent ears before the child develops an awareness of them and becomes self-conscious about their appearance.
  3. Social Development
    Most children start kindergarten around age 5. For many children, this may be the first time they are in a large social setting with other children. This is also a time when teasing can start. Children can be especially cruel because they are not fully aware of the impact of their words. This early teasing can hinder a child’s social development and may even affect their school work. Oftentimes, parents choose to correct a child’s protruding ears before the start of kindergarten.
  4. Emotional Maturity
    There is a recovery process after undergoing an otoplasty that requires a bit of maturity on the part of a child. The recovery includes wearing a head wrap for about 7 days after the ear surgery. At age 5, children are better able to understand the recovery process, and some are more able to accept that they have to wear the bandage for a relatively short period of time and won’t attempt to remove the bandage.

Although age 5 is the youngest age we would recommend performing an otoplasty, every child and situation is unique. If you are concerned about your child’s protruding ears but are unsure whether your child is ready for otoplasty, be sure to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon like Dr. Fodero who can help you make a decision that will be in the best interests of your child.

Northeastern Plastic Surgery understands your desire for a beautiful, youthful looking body and facial appearance. We use the latest plastic surgery techniques to perform a variety of surgical procedures. Dr. Fodero and the staff are very friendly, helpful, and available to answer any questions you may have. Please contact us today to learn more about the services we offer.

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