Q: My daughter is 14 years old and is bothered tremendously by her ears that stick out. While we are used to them and think she is beautiful, she clearly has a different opinion. She never wears her hair back and always has it so that her hair covers her ears. While we are not keen on her having to undergo plastic surgery, I think this is the only solution that will make her less self-conscious. What is a good age age for her to have ear pinning surgery?
A: Ear pinning, also known as otoplasty, is actually the number one teenage plastic surgery performed. It is a highly successful operation that can make a dramatic difference in the shape of the ears, changing it from one in which the ears are the most noticeable feature of one’s face to not noticing them at all. (which is how your ears should be) When evaluating teenagers for cosmetic plastic surgery, I always consider three factors; their physical maturity, their emotional maturity and their expectations. When it comes to ears, otoplasty can really be performed safely anytime after 2 years of age. It has been shown that the operation does not affect ear growth beyond that age. From an emotional maturity standpoint, the problem that otoplasty treats is very obvious as well as why it would bother someone so this is never an issue. I think almost any patient, teenagers not withstanding, have reasonable expectations with the goal of an ear that does not stick out as far. As long as the operation does not create the reverse problem (ear plastered against the side of the head), most patients are going to be very happy with the results. In conclusion, I think your daughter can have otoplasty at anytime and the sooner it is done the better she is going to feel about herself.
Dr. Barry Eppley