Personally, I dislike the word ‘normal’. I only used that in my title to get your attention. Great, it worked! So here is my story about my not-so-normal ears. If you’re reading this, I suspect there maybe something about your ears that is bothering you? If so, read on.

As a young child growing up, I was always incredibly self-conscious about my ears. Why? Well, they protruded out from my head considerably more than anyone else I knew, apart from my Grandpa. When I started school, so did the daily taunts of ‘hey wing-nut’ or ‘you’ve got ears like a bat’. I would go home to Mum in tears and she would say “sticks and stones can break your bones, but names will never hurt you”.

Ear

Now I know she said this to make me feel better, but it didn’t. Child psychologists now know that words can actually leave deeper and more enduring scars than physical ones. This certainly was the case with me.

My self-consciousness about my ears and my and self-esteem really took a beating and made my teenage years almost unbearable. Finally in my early 20s, I met someone who had Otoplasty, a surgical procedure to correct prominent ears. They looked great, very natural and so I got the details of this person’s surgeon. I got a referral from my GP and saw the same surgeon a few weeks later.

Now, let’s come back to my dislike of the word ‘normal’. This is the first question the surgeon asked me, “do you think your ears are normal?” I said “I don’t know”. The doctor then went on to something that has stayed with me to this day. “It doesn’t matter. Normal is what feels right for you”. Clearly, my ears didn’t feel right for me. This doctor’s understanding and compassion for years of jokes and taunting were evident and genuine.

He explained in detail how this common cosmetic procedure is performed. He said he would reposition the cartilage in my ears using permanent sutures that sit under the skin. He told me he’d make a tiny incision behind my ears that would barely be visible once healed. Lastly, he said I’d have a general anaesthetic, but that I would be out of hospital the same day.

I thought about it for a week and then decided to go ahead with the surgery. I couldn’t be happier that I did. The change to my appearance, but more importantly, my self-confidence is staggering. I just wish I could have had this surgery years ago. Given that prominent ears tend to run in the family (thanks Pa!), if my kids inherit my ears, I’ll certainly be talking to them about my surgery. My surgeon told me that the procedure is safe enough to be performed on children as young as seven.

The old saying that kids can be cruel is so true. Not just children, but adults as well, not to mention the media. Our society has become so obsessed with physical beauty and perfection, that if you have a feature or features that draw attention to you for the wrong reasons, the emotional impact can be devastating. Of course surgery isn’t to be taken lightly, but for me, this really has been a positive and life-changing experience. Make sure you see a plastic surgeon though, as anyone holding a medical degree can perform cosmetic surgery in Australia. Ensure they have FRACS next to their name and are affiliated with the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), for example, Dr Woods in Adelaide. All the best!