"Hey, can you fly with those bat ears?"..."Your ears are so huge, you could tattoo them and pass for a giant moth..." "Hi, Dumbo."
To avoid the heartache that comes with so-called 'jug ears', three year old Vivi's parents want her to undergo otoplasty. Not right away, of course. But they are already researching the procedures that are on offer and the age at which such surgery could be considered.
Their adult friends who were tormented during their schooldays because of their bat ears, advise them to absolutely try to avoid their little girl being subjected to such humiliation.
Vivi's parents are already in touch with professor Massimo Robiony in the Northern Italian city of Udine, who has developed a particularly efficient technique using micro-incisions. "The operation is quick and carried out under local anaesthetic," the surgeon explains. "There are no risks, it's perfectly safe. The only complication that could arise, could be that the ears return to their original position. But it's a rare occurrence, linked to other factors."
From a medical perspective, the surgery can be done between 5 and 6 years of age. But the child's psychological preparedness also needs to be taken into account.
I ask myself whether subjecting a kid to such an operation is really necessary. I wonder whether this is the best way to combat the cruelty of other children's remarks. I wonder whether this kind of operation is more or less acceptable than other types of plastic surgery.
And most of all, I wonder how Vivi's parents will go about explaining the reasons for this elective surgery to their little daughter...
Before the jokes set in: "We want to have your ears operated, to avoid you being made fun of."
By avoiding the topic altogether: "You have a little problem with your ears which we're going to fix with minor surgery."
Or later on: "Since your classmates are tormenting you, we're going to have your ears operated."
What would you do?
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