November 4, 2005
It’s a choice not all parents would agree with: putting your child through two hours of surgery for the sake of appearance. But News 12 found one family who did just that to avoid bullying later on. In a News 12 special assignment, we're on your side with how Otoplasty changed a little boy’s life.
Jason Patskanick is about as typical as they come. He’s a 7-year-old who likes playing outdoors and most of all, football. But not too long ago he didn’t fit in with everyone else.
“The left one was bigger than the right,” said Tracey Patskanick, Jason’s mother.
Jason’s mother Tracey remembers the day her son told her he wasn’t happy with how he looked.
“He had a class picture done and he came home and said look at me, I look like an elf,” Tracey said.
“I just looked at ‘em, just pulled ‘em back and I thought I look better with my ears back than out,” Jason said.
All Tracey could see was a handsome boy. But, she and her husband still did some research and found there was a surgery called Otoplasty, or ear pinning. It was a way to reduce the size of Jason’s ears.
Tracey called Dr. Jack Yu at the Medical College of Georgia. Her family lives in Anderson, but they’d come to visit Dr. Yu for something else when Jason was little.
“Over the past 11 years, we probably do one of these everyone three months on average,” Dr. Yu said.
Dr. Yu says ear pinning is especially common during the summer months when children are out of school. And kids as young as four years old get the surgery to simple avoid ridicule later on.
“Even in kindergarten or 1st, 2nd grade these kind of interactions can have some long lasting and traumatic effects if they’re constantly being picked on,” Dr. Yu said.
No one picked on Jason, but Tracey couldn’t stand the idea of it ever happening. She wasn’t sure if plastic surgery was the right thing, so she asked a lot of questions.
“Do we do it? Do we not do it? Does he grow into it? Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. He can’t get it done when he’s older?” Tracey said.
And then Jason got his ears pinned in June. He wore a different kind of helmet for two weeks after the surgery. And what once stuck out, is now pulled in.
It’s been about four months and Jason’s almost back to normal playing for his favorite football team. In fact, his mother says since the surgery, she hasn’t heard him say anything else about his ears.
“I think he’s very happy with it. I’m glad I got it done. I was very apprehensive at first,” Tracey said.
A decision that Dr. Yu says is ultimately up the family. And if a child’s ears are not normal, shouldn’t be considered a wrong choice.
“Some people will say, in this day and age, you can not afford to not look normal,” Dr. Yu said.
And Jason just knows that he looks like everyone else now.
“It feels good to just have it done and it looks good and stuff,” Jason said.
Dr. Yu says one of the things families will run into is insurance not covering the surgery because it’s considered cosmetic. The Patskanick’s had to pay out of pocket. The total cost for Otoplasty surgery is between $2,500 and $3,500 depending on the extent of the procedure.