NHM Readers: Sticking out ears

I recently asked the Friends of  my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook if they could help with the following question: “My daughter is 3 years old and since a few months old has had ears that stick out quite extremely. Although this doesn’t bother her yet, I do worry that it will be a target for bullying once she starts school.

When I discussed with the doctor the option of having them pinned back, she was very dismissive and said that they would not do this until she was sixteen or if she started to get bullied and requested it herself. However bullying can have such long lasting effects on one’s personality that I’d rather not wait until it happens.

Has anyone else’s child had ears that stick out and what did they do about it?”

These were the responses I received. They are in no particular order

NHM Readers advice about sticking out ears

Caitlin said: I personally had my ears pinned when I was about six years old, though that was 18 years ago! I did get severely bullied and unfortunately surgery was not completely successful however I would say try and see a different doctor and get a second opinion as it is fairly straightforward so I can’t see why they would need to wait!

Stacey said: yeah why should she have to wait until she gets bullied!!

Lucy said: I was bullied at school for big sticky out ears, bugs bunny teeth with a large gap from thumb sucking, glasses and being overweight. It sucked. But I dealt with it, eventually stood up to my bullies and got on with it. It might not have been nice but it’s all part of what has made me who I am now and whilst I may still be fat, still have my grandads ears and a gap in my teeth (I took the decision at 13 not to fix that as it would affect my flute playing) I’m a strong enough person to not worry about it. Isn’t it better to teach our kids that bullying isn’t acceptable and to be strong and confident enough to stand up to it than to surgically fix a problem that might not happen?

Sue said: Think it would be viewed as cosmetic and so you would have to prove it affects confidence/ is a cause for bullying etc

Gail said: wait until nursery age and then go to doctors, lie if necessary about bullying. You must do what you think is best for your baby!!

Honor said: My ex niece had sticky out ears ,my ex brother and sister in law had the same worries they also went to the doctors and had same reply ,it landed up with them having to pay for them to be pinned back. Even when they said it was affecting her mentally they wouldn’t budge. So I suggest having to pay for it to be done whilst she’s young before it’s an issue.

Mata said: I wonder what the ‘pinning back’ involves? I would not expose my child to a procedure that is not medically necessary, unless the child fully understood what it involves and requested it him/herself. I think the doctor is right – even if what he/she’s said is not what the parents wanted to hear – exposing a child to surgery that is purely cosmetic does not sound ethical to me. I guess the parents can always go private if they wish.

Natashia said: This is a tough one but will share my personal experience. I had the same issue and had the surgery when I was 15. Getting it done through the NHS may be none unless they can assess that the issue is causing the child psychological distress. Even getting it done privately not sure what the process is in terms of consent to carry out cosmetic surgery on a minor. The thing I found wasn’t necessarily with bullying so much as the non-stop teasing which can really knock your self confidence and this was how it affected me.

As a teenager at the time it didn’t matter how pretty I tried to look there was always the dreaded ears which I always tried to cover with doing my hair in creative ways and I was convinced it will cause me issues into adulthood and affect things like relationships,career opportunities etc. Of course each of us have our own insecurities but if not managed or dealt with can cause long term issues like depression, some people can make peace with their insecurities but not everyone can but that does not make you weak. The operation was done by a fantastic plastic surgeon (it pays to do your homework here!) who did a great job, my parents could get it done for me through their private medical following a review on me by a psychologist. The operation involves a cut at the back of each ear and removal of cartilage then stitched back again. The recovery took a while, I walked with bandage around my head for about a week (or two) until they were happy for the stitches to come out. Then my ears were still quite blue,swollen and sensitive for another couple of weeks and it probably took another month or so to appear ‘normal’

Needless to say it was very painful as well through the recovery but overall it was a success. I also tried to keep the operation very quiet as I was scared of further teasing on that so planned it to happen over school holidays. But best thing my parents ever did for me I have no regrets. There were times I wished they just got it done for me when I was little but then again with anything cosmetic I strongly believe it should only be done when it is your own decision. My parents accepted and loved me for who I was and only acted upon my request, though it took Dutch courage for me to bring up the topic with them and they still tried to get me to accept myself as I were, but I couldn’t get past it and then they supported me through that. You want to do the best for your child of course but sometimes it can be hard not to reflect our insecurities as parents and assume our children will feel the same way. Good luck with your research and whichever decision you make.

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