In today's world, protruding ears are no laughing matter

May 2, 2011

Should children undergo plastic surgery to prevent bullying?
Should children undergo plastic surgery to prevent bullying?

Seven-year-old Samantha Shaw of South Dakota traveled to New York City to undergo surgery to pin back both protruding ears and fix a fold in her right ear. The otoplasty procedure was provided free of charge by the Little Baby Face Foundation. The goal of the surgery was to prevent future bullying, but now Samantha’s mom is taking some heat.

Nay sayers like Cheryl Rode, director of clinical operations at the San Diego Center for Children, are horrified at cosmetic surgery in one so young. “Changing appearance is not the solution. We never want to hold the victim responsible for the bullying.” Responsibility for change must lie within schools and other social structures children live in.

Samantha’s surgeon says that protruding ears are not a cosmetic issue. “Any ‘abnormality’ can lead to torture on the playground.” Some experts say that bullying can cause depression and academic difficulties.

Samantha told Juju Chang of “Good Morning America” that she hasn't actually been bullied. But, according to her mom, mean comments were made in front of Samantha; surgery was preventive, so Samantha wouldn't get bullied.”

The decision for a child to undergo otoplasty is personal for each family, but the first step is always a rigorous assessment of the child’s condition by a board-certified plastic surgeon. Otoplasty costs between $5,000 and $10,000 and is no longer covered by insurance. Though the ear is 90 percent of adult size by six years of age, surgery should be considered when the child begins to voice concerns about their ears. When the child is involved, they are more likely to better tolerate surgery and the required recovery.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, over the past decade the number of children and teens who underwent cosmetic surgery increased nearly 30 percent. In those under 18, otoplasty was the most frequently performed procedure in 2010.  


The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to www.surgery.org

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About ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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