Eleven-year-old Bella Harrington was finding life tough. Bullies had decided to make her life miserable because of the size and shape of her ears. Then, after she had surgery to change them, she burst into tears when she saw the results.
Bella had only realized that there was anything unusual about her ears when she was around eight or nine years old. “I started noticing that my ears were different in third or fourth grade,” she told her doctor, Dr. Joe Niamtu, according to Inside Edition. “I’d fix my hair to where it wasn’t showing.”
Despite her efforts to cover up her ears, though, Bella was mercilessly bullied. Speaking to WRIC, Bella said, “They would always point it out, but then the more people pointed it out is when I wanted to change it. I thought that they stuck out way too much.”
As a result, Bella grew increasingly self-conscious – and her self-esteem suffered. The bullies even said that she had“elf ears” – and taunts like these finally pushed the girl to take action.
Indeed, the girl would be given an otoplasty – an operation to have her ears pinned back. Having seen Bella suffering at the hands of bullies, her mother, Sabrina, believed that this was the best option.
The Harringtons decided to approach plastic surgeon Dr. Joe Niamtu for help. Speaking to WRIC, he noted that children as young as four can have the operation – potentially saving them from grief, and from bullies, in the long run.
“Even small facial deformities can produce very negative psychological consequences in childhood that can lead to a lifetime of low self-esteem and negative body image,” he explained on Facebook. Given this, one can only imagine that Bella was determined to move ahead.
“If a child is healthy, then there is no reason not to do it young,” Dr. Niamtu wrote. “Young people heal better, they have less medical problems… These patients are so much happier, and it really boosts their self-confidence.” And Bella would indeed go ahead with the surgery.
The idea that a child would want cosmetic surgery might be a strange concept for some people to grasp. However, while otoplasty is a relatively simple procedure, it is one that can have a dramatic impact on a child’s life – and particularly on a child who is being bullied.
During otoplasty, the patient is put under general anesthetic – which always carries some risk, regardless of age or health. The surgeon then cuts the ear cartilage and sets the ears into a new position. Generally, the surgery only takes about an hour and a half.
Bella had to wear bandages for a few days after the surgery to protect her swollen ears. It was only when her time was up that the bandages were removed – and everyone could see the result.
There was a sense of trepidation in the air as Bella’s bandages were unwrapped. Then, handing her a mirror, Dr. Niamtu asked her what she thought of her new ears and whether she was happy with the result. Bella took a look in the mirror and nodded. She tried to hold back the tears – but she couldn’t help but cry.
Indeed, Bella was so touched that she burst into tears. And she wasn’t the only one who was affected. In fact, Dr. Niamtu later wrote, “It was my honor to help this beautiful young lady to escape the effect of peer bullying from her protruding ears.”
The type of otoplasty that Bella received isn’t the only one available, though. Indeed, there are non-surgical methods that include taping and tissue-molding, which are typically used on infants, as their cartilage is highly malleable in the first few months of their lives.
Indeed, over a period of months, splints and tape can be used to push the baby’s ears into the desired size, shape and position. The treatment can be pursued until the desired result is achieved – though parents may find that they reach a point at which no further change is possible.
Though a growing number of otoplasties are being performed on children, there is apparently another, quite different demographic that is increasingly keen on the surgery. In fact, many older men are reportedly having the procedure done.
London-based surgeon Mr. David Gault told The Independent, “It’s quite common to try to disguise this problem with a clever hairstyle. But hairstyles tend to get shorter with age and – particularly for men who lose their hair – camouflage slowly thins.”
And this trend isn’t confined to men with big ears: more and more retirees are apparently choosing to get cosmetic surgery of all types done. Indeed, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports that the number of people aged 65 or over having eyelid surgery and facelifts has increased by over one hundred percent in the last 20 years. What’s more, for many of these individuals, it is the first plastic surgery that they have ever had.
“If you feel young, you want to look young, and there is much more acceptance of using cosmetic surgery to do that [today],” Douglas McGeorge of The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons told The Independent. Indeed, choosing to have plastic surgery can make a big difference to an individual’s perception of themselves.
Meanwhile, for Bella, it seems that surgery had precisely the result that was intended. Months passed following the operation, and both Bella and her mom remained happy with the outcome. Indeed, Bella no longer felt self-conscious or that she had any need at all to hide her ears.