It’s important to know first that this malformation of the ear causes absolutely no hearing problems or medical complications and the reasons that lead parents to consider surgery are purely aesthetic. Indeed, Dr. Gilles Leboeuf, family physician states that: « The concept of normality in children is acquired by watching others. If they see a difference, they will ask questions and will have more difficulty comparing themselves to their peers and may feel ostracized. »
It may be that in your mind, this question does not pose itself and you want to initiate the procedures to correct the problem with surgery right away since you have yourself suffered from teasing at school and you want your child to avoid this path since the condition is sometimes hereditary according to Dr. Janik Sarrazin, ENT specialist at the Pierre-Legardeur hospital in Lachenaie.
« Some children will be called bad names like Dumbo, they will be teased and their psychological health will be affected. Parents who have suffered bullying younger therefore want to avoid their child having to go through the same thing. » He specifies.
Some parents prefer however to wait until their child is old enough to understand the situation and make an informed decision when they so desire. If that is what you are planning to do, here are some tips to help you cover up the ears to avoid prying eyes:
- Put a nice hat with large edges
- Cut their hair to frame and hide the ears
- A nice scarf held around the head
- For girls, you can make a ponytail but make sure to leave strands of hair around their ears to hide them.
Ear surgery: Otoplasty
If you are considering surgery for your child, you should first consult a family physician or a pediatrician who will be able to refer you to an ENT. The surgery, called Otoplasty, can be performed on children from the age of 4 and is fully covered by government health insurance in Quebec for children under 18.
Dr. Sarrazin says it’s important to prepare children by explaining the operation in terms they will understand because you want them to feel secure and not worried about what will happen to them.
Younger kids are generally asleep under general anesthesia during the operation but from the age of 10 can be operated under local anesthesia. This takes about one hour and the children usually feel minimal discomfort afterwards. Children must fast as recommended by the hospital they go to on the day of the Otoplasty.
After the operation, it is recommended to keep a bandage on their head for 4 to 10 days depending on the technique used by the surgeon. You will then have to put a net on the head of your child for 6 weeks to prevent ear scratching during sleep. Dr. Sarrazin tells us that: « Whenever possible, parents should explain to their children that they should avoid touching or scratching their ear to prevent infection that might end up hurting the child. »
For more information on Otoplasty or to find an ENT specialist, visit the Canadian Society of Otolaryngology.