Ear surgery is one of the few cosmetic procedures that are commonly performed on children. That’s because ears that are overly large, misshapen, or stick out noticeably can make a child the object of teasing, which can damage a child’s self-esteem. The surgery is typically done after a child’s ears have fully formed, at age 5 or older. That means your child may still be quite young when you schedule the procedure. How should you prepare your child so that the surgery goes smoothly?
Describe the Procedure in a Positive Way
The goal of cosmetic ear surgery is to improve your child’s appearance and by doing that to improve their self-esteem and self-image. When talking about the procedure with your child, be careful not to suggest that there is anything wrong with their appearance by using negative terms to describe their ears as they are now. Instead, talk about how the surgery will change your child’s ears in a positive way, using matter-of-fact, simple language. For example, you might say: “Dr. Sajjadian is going to make your ears more even.” Or: “Dr. Sajjadian is going to make your ears the same size.”
Of course, if your child is older or has experienced teasing because of his or her ears, you can adjust your explanation to describe in more detail how the surgery will change how the ears look for the better. The point is to help your child feel good about themselves now and to reassure them that the surgery will only improve their looks. Remember that the goal of cosmetic ear surgery is typically to make the ears appear more normal and less noticeable, rather than to make them exceptionally attractive.
Explain What Will Happen On the Day of the Surgery
Children do best with medical procedures when they know what to expect. Talk through the scheduled events of the day ahead of time, starting with what will happen when your child gets up in the morning. Dr. Sajjadian will explain the specifics to you, but you might describe what to expect on the day of a typical procedure like this:
- You won’t have breakfast that morning.
- We will take you to Dr. Sajjadian’s office (or possibly the hospital) and be with you while you meet with the doctor.
- A nurse will have you change into a hospital gown when it’s time for the procedure.
- You will get a mask to wear with a balloon to blow up, which will make you sleepy.
- When you’re in a deep sleep, Dr. Sajjadian will do the surgery. You’ll be so sound asleep that you won’t feel anything.
- We’ll be there the whole time, and will be with you when you wake up after the surgery.
- You’ll have a bandage over your ears. It might hurt a little, but you’ll be able to take medicine for that.
- When you’re completely awake, we’ll take you home. You’ll come home that same day.
Explain What Your Child Can Expect In the Days After the Surgery
Your child will need to take special care of the ears while they are healing. Let your child know ahead of time that he or she will wear a headband for a few days once the bandages come off, and won’t be able to take a shower during that time. Your child will need to take a break from sports, too, until the ears have healed.
Answer All of Your Child’s Questions Honestly
Parents are often surprised by what children worry about — and by what doesn’t concern them. Don’t assume you know what your child is thinking about the surgery. It might be that they will wake up in the middle of the procedure, or that you won’t be there with them. Or your child may not be worried at all. Encourage your child to ask questions about the procedure and do your best to answer honestly. If you don’t know the answer to a question, promise to find out. Then follow through by asking Dr. Sajjadian’s office and sharing what you learn.
Dr. Sajjadian is a triple-board certified plastic surgeon in Newport Beach, CA. His practice focuses on compassionate patient care and attention to detail. He has won numerous awards for excellence, both from his patients and from his professional peers.