Children and teenagers can be afflicted by numerous types of physical birth defects, some of which cause medical problems and others which are more about looking different and being less than ‘perfect’. With a developing and sometimes fragile self-image, prominent appearance differences can be a potential source of embarrassment. Plastic surgeons see children and young teens for several basic types of aesthetic surgery. One of the most well known is that of protruding or prominent ears. Caused by the lack of development of one the ear folds or overgrowth of some of the cartilage at its base, the ears can stick out quite distinctly from the side of the head. Such ears are evident right after birth and do not change or become less obvious as the child grows. They frequently can become a source of ridicule, which does not usually occur until they have begun formal schooling
In a new children’s book ‘Ellie Hears An Elephant’ written by Indianapolis plastic surgeon Dr. Barry Eppley and his daughter Hannah, the story of a young girl and her experience with elephants is told. What starts out as an innocuous trip to the circus to see her favorite zoo animal eventually turns into a source of teasing and embarrassment. Grappling with the decision as to whether to change her natural self requires input from those closest to her…her parents and her sister.
So what is Ellie to do? Her parents take him to a local plastic surgeon to find out what can be done. Should she make a change or not? That is the decision that only she can ultimately make.
Elective plastic surgery in children and teenagers has always been a sensitive subject. Whether one should change how they look for a prominent physical feature touches on the issue of a developing self-image and their psychosocial development. Should plastic surgery be done and is it necessary for one’s ‘health’? Like Ellie and her ears, such decisions are personal ones but fitting in and being accepted as normal can have a profound influence on that choice.