Ear surgery, or otoplasty, is one of the few cosmetic procedures children commonly undergo.
Misshapen or large ears that stick out can impact a child’s self-esteem. These children may even become victims of teasing and bullying from their peers. Otoplasty helps children move through the world with confidence.
Generally, your otoplasty surgeon waits to perform otoplasty until after a child’s ears fully form—around age five or older. That means when you schedule the procedure, your child may still be quite young.
So, how do you best prepare your child for surgery and the recovery process?
Here are the most important tips to help your child feel comfortable, safe, and ready when the big day arrives.
1. Talk to Your Child About the Procedure
The goal of ear surgery is to improve your child’s appearance which will improve self-image and self-esteem.
Your child may struggle to understand why they need the surgery and how it will take place. The last thing any adult wants to do is make a child think something is wrong with him or her.
When discussing the surgery, avoid using any negative terms when describing their ears. Instead, talk about the change positively.
Use simple, matter-of-fact language they will understand. For example, try saying, “The doctor is going to make your ears the same size” or “more even.” You can also say, “The doctor is going to make sure your ears are nice and snug to your head just like Paul’s (or Sarah’s, etc.)”
If your child is older or has been teased because of his or her ears, you can involve how the surgery will prevent them from being a target. Describe in more detail what the surgery will look like and how it will help change their ears for the better.
To help them feel less alone or abnormal, talk to them about the 20,000 other Americans who get this same procedure every year. Show them some before and after pictures from your surgeon’s website. You can also show them pictures of the surgeon to familiarize them with “the nice doctor and nurses.”
2. Explain What Happens on Surgery Day
When children know what to expect, they feel safer. Talk them through a schedule of what will happen on surgery day ahead of time.
Start with what happens when they wake up in the morning. During your consultation, your surgeon will explain the personalized care plan, but in general, you can convey these steps:
- You’ll skip breakfast.
- We will take you to the doctor’s office (or possibly the surgical center) and stay with you when we meet with the doctor.
- A nurse will help you change into a hospital gown when it’s time for the procedure. If your child is on the younger side and doesn’t have much experience with doctors, playing pretend hospital or doctor’s office can help acclimate them.
- You’ll get to wear a special mask with a balloon to blow up, and that will make you sleepy.
- Once you’re deeply sleeping, Dr. Weinrach will complete the surgery. You won’t feel anything.
- We’ll be by your side the whole time, and when you wake up, we’ll be right with you.
- After the surgery is over, your ears might hurt a little at first, but you’ll get medicine for that.
- You’ll have a bandage over your ears. For younger kids, you can put a tissue bandage over their or your ears so they can envision the initial outcome.
- Once you’re fully awake, you’ll come you home that same day.
3. Explain the Recovery Process
You and your child will need to take special care of the ears as they heal. Tell your child they will wear a headband for a few days after bandages get removed. They will need to take a break from sports for a few weeks.
4. Answer Your Child’s Questions Honestly
Children often worry about things that surprise parents. They may ask whether they will wake up during surgery. Another common concern is that you won’t be there when they wake up. Some children don’t worry at all. Encourage them to ask questions and do your best to answer. If you don’t know, tell them you will find out from the doctor. Relay the answers as you get them. A good doctor and his staff will answer even the most minor, unique questions a child can come up with.
If you have any further questions about getting your child through otoplasty, call our Scottsdale, AZ, office at (480) 207-3431 or contact us.