If you were to select an easy target for teasing from kids at school, it would have to be overly protruding ears. “Satellite dish head,” “Dumbo” — you can hear it now. Kids single out targets like that, and the teasing can really affect the confidence and self-esteem of a child. That’s as true in Worcester as it is in Timbuktu.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Just because a person is born with protruding ears doesn’t mean they should have to live with them their entire life. Our six plastic surgeons at UMass Memorial perform ear surgery and can bring those ears closer to the head and end the teasing.
Ear surgery, clinically known as otoplasty, is surgery to the ear to improve the position, shape, and proportion of the ear(s) on the head. Ear surgery can fix a birth defect in the patient’s ear structure, or it can repair traumatic ear injury such as from a sports event. In most cases, otoplasty simply involves pinning the ears closer to the head.
Children or adults can have otoplasty. For adults, they may want to correct a condition that has bothered them their entire life. For children, parents want to head off years of teasing. The general rule for children is that they need to be in good health and over five years old. That age milestone is important because after the fifth birthday, the cartilage in the ear has fully developed and is stable enough for ear correction surgery. Plus, at that age, most kids are just getting ready to enter school.
In an ear surgery where the goal is simply to bring protruding ears closer to the head, the procedure begins with an incision made either on the back of the ears or along the creases on the inside of the ears. From there, your UMass Memorial Medical Group surgeon may remove excess skin or cartilage. Because the incisions are made either on the back of the ears or hidden in a crease, scars are virtually invisible with these otoplasty procedures.
If your child has protruding ears, he or she doesn’t need to hear about them at school. Give us a call at UMass Memorial Medical Group, (508) 334-5990, and set up a consultation for otoplasty.