Ear reduction surgery (otoplasty) is often in the news as a potential solution to bullying for children with protruding ears.

If you are considering this procedure for your child, you likely have many questions about what to expect.

Dr. Rizk will attempt to answer the top questions he gets from parents, as well as adults considering otoplasty. These answers are no substitute for a consultation for a board-certified facial plastic surgeon who has extensive experience performing otoplasty.

Will child otoplasty end bullying?

In an ideal world, there would be no bullying at all. If your child is picked on or teased because of the size of their ears in proportion to their face, ear pinning may help to put an end to that particular line of ridicule. Unfortunately, a bully will always find something to harp on. Finally, many schools are taking bullying very seriously. As a parent myself, I understand that this situation can cause a lot of heartache. If there is a problem, make sure you bring it to the attention of the proper authorities as soon as possible.

Is my child old enough for ear pinning?

Otoplasty is generally performed on children aged 4-14 as the ears finish growing by about age 4. It is also often performed on adults, both men and women. You are never too old to undergo otoplasty.

What can I expect?

A well performed otoplasty can make your ears more proportional to the size and shape of your head and face. In some cases, only one ear sticks out or needs surgical intervention, but in most cases, both ears will be addressed to ensure a balanced aesthetic result.

Is my child a candidate for otoplasty?

Your child must be deemed physically healthy and psychologically fit to handle the surgery. He or she must also be able to follow all of the pre- and postoperative instructions with parental assistance.

When should I schedule the procedure?

Dr. Rizk will suggest scheduling an otoplasty during a school break so there is enough time to recover without falling behind and/or missing out on school, for children and adolescents. Adults can schedule the procedure at any time that fits within their schedule.

What does recovery entail?

You will need to wear ear bandages around their ears after the surgery, and any touching or tugging may affect the healing process and can cause an infection. It typically takes about one week before a patient is ready to go back to a normal routine. You cannot wear any shirts or tops that go over the head as this too can irritate the surgical site. Make sure you have button-up shirts at the ready. Cold compresses can minimize any swelling or discomfort. By three months, the swelling is resolved and you will realize the full effects of the surgery.

How is otoplasty performed?

In general, your facial plastic surgeon will design an incision just behind the ear where the ear is joined to the head. Next, he or she may remove the necessary amounts of cartilage and skin so that the ears are in proportion to the face and head. Sometimes, the surgeon will trim the cartilage, shape it and pin the cartilage back with permanent sutures to secure the cartilage.

How long is the surgery?

Otoplasty takes only about 45 minutes per ear and is performed in the operating room under IV sedation or general anesthesia.

Will insurance cover the cost of otoplasty in children?

It’s always worth checking, but most insurers will not cover the costs as this is largely considered a cosmetic procedure. Dr. Rizk does not accept any insurance for this procedure.

To schedule an otoplasty consultation with double board-certified facial plastic surgeon Sam Rizk, MD, FACS, call 212-452-3362.