Ear surgery, or otoplasty, is one of the few plastic surgeries that’s recommended for children. In fact, in many cases, the younger a child has ear surgery, the better. The ears are more pliable and easier to reshape at a younger age, and a child is less likely to remember much about the procedure when it’s performed as soon as possible. Plus, when otoplasty is performed before a child begins school, there’s less of a chance that he or she will be bullied by other students about the size of his or her ears.
Although ear surgery is a good option for some children, it’s important that parents remember that is a type of surgery. A fair amount of recovery is needed after the procedure. If your child is about to have otoplasty, you can use the following tips as a guide to help you both through the procedure.
Right After Surgery
Most patients are able to go home right after their ear surgery. The surgeon will usually give a list of instructions to help a child through the recovery period. Right after the procedure, the ears will be wrapped in a rather large bandage. The bandage will provide a fair amount of compression to keep the ears in place as they heal and will cover up the incision sites. Usually, the bandage will remain in place for about a week after the surgery. Although the bandage might not be worn during the day after the first week, the surgeon will most likely have your child wear a headband around the ears at night for several weeks after that.
It’s a good idea to wait until the bandage comes off before washing your child’s hair. You can wash the area around the bandage, though, as long as you don’t get it wet.
Right after surgery, it’s a good idea to put a few extra pillows on your child’s bed. Keeping the head as upright as possible during sleep will help minimize swelling in the area. Have your child sleep on his or her back, so that pressure or weight isn’t placed on the ears while sleeping.
Returning to School
For the most part, your child will be able to return to school after about a week. You can schedule the procedure to minimize the number of school days your child misses. For example, you can schedule the surgery right before a long weekend or a week-long break, such as spring break or fall break. Although your child can go back to class after five to seven days, some activities, such as gym class, will still be off limits. Your surgeon can write a note if needed to excuse your child from gym or other programs that require physical activity.
Remember to Take It Easy
Convincing your child to take it easy can be the trickiest part of the recovery process. He or she should avoid strenuous physical activity for between four and six weeks after the surgery. Some types of activity, such as swimming or playing rough contact sports, should be avoided for even longer.
There are a few ways you can make the recovery easier on your child. Before the surgery, stock up on fun games to play together or on books to read together. If your child enjoys crafts or other quiet activities, it might be a good idea to purchase a new craft kit or the materials for a new project before the surgery, so that he or she has something to keep busy with during the quiet weeks of recovery.
What to Look Out For
Most patients have an uneventful recovery after otoplasty and are back to their regular lives before they know it. But, complications are possible after any surgery, so it’s important that you know what to be on the lookout for. A high fever is never a good sign, especially if it stays above 101.5 degrees, even after your child has taken acetaminophen and drank cool water. If you child develops a fever or a sharp pain that doesn’t subside with pain relievers, contact the surgeon right away.
Dr. Kyle Choe, a board certified facial plastic surgeon with a practice in Virginia Beach, VA, performs otoplasty on patients young and older. To learn more about the procedure, the recovery process, and if it’s a good pick for your child, schedule a consultation with Dr. Choe today. Call (757) 389-5850 for an appointment.