Should we? (cosmetic surgery on 6-year-old)

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  • Should we? (cosmetic surgery on 6-year-old)
  • Background: Our nearly 7-year-old is a great big softie. Very astute in some ways but edging onto the autistic spectrum in others. As the son of two teachers, we’re very aware of how awesome he is, loved by teachers and with strong friendships but also his quirks.

    He’s lucky enough to attend fairly “fancy” and multicultural schools where bullying or comments of any sort aren’t likely to be an overt (or otherwise) issue.

    He had open-heart surgery when he was 6 months old. He’s all fixed but has a large rib-cage-length scar down his chest. This hasn’t bothered him. He thinks it’s kind of cool.

    Problem: he has a fatty eyelid. It doesn’t affect his vision but one eye is ‘smaller’ than the other.

    Conundrum: for the next few years, my wife and I will be earning pretty well in a country with excellent private healthcare. Both of us think that he should get his eye ‘fixed’. Having spoken to 3 older children who had the same operation when older, they each wish they’d had it sooner. Our boy thinks his small eye is “awesome” and “makes [him] special”. He’s simply confused as to why it would be changed.

    What would you all do?

    Thanks

    DrJ
    Member

    If it doesn’t bother him (and if it truly doesn’t – not just something he’s saying) why does it bother you?

    (For another example – my daughter has a wonky ear. My mother-in-law was always going on about how we should get it “fixed”. Our view was that it was sort of cute and special to her, and that if she wanted to change it, she could when she was older. Now she wouldn’t dream of it.)

    Just my 2 cents – recognise that honest opinions can differ.

    Premier Icon jam bo
    Subscriber

    My son has had surgery and general anesthetics for critical things. I wouldn’t voluntarily put him through that again.

    It doesn’t both me as such but having spoken to others (young adults in the same position), they wish they’d had the op sooner. I think that the longer they left it, the harder it was for them to bring up and it did have an effect.

    It doesn’t worry our awesome little son but that’s a combination of his personality and his friendship group. Peers in the future might not be so kind and, as I said, he’s acutely aware and also quite soft. A potentially difficult situation.

    As I said, he’s had a major and critical operation. I’d ‘put him through it’ if it had a big, positive impact on his future.

    allthegear
    Member

    If it’s “awesome” now, put the money aside and let it grow a bit. If he changes his mind at some point in the future, the money is there for him.

    Or he might use it to go on an adventure.

    Rachel

    scotroutes
    Member

    My daughter has a “lazy” eyebrow caused by a palsy. It was more obvious when she was younger. It also affects her peripheral vision on one side. We had the option of corrective surgery but we were advised to wait until she was old enough to decide for herself. She is now 22 and has never really given it any thought.

    I’d also leave this until later and let him decide.

    PS – the only time I notice it is when she is sitting behind me in a car and I see her face in the rear-view mirror. Weird huh?

    fossy
    Member

    I would be wary of any surgery unless necessary. If he’s not bothered, nor is it causing bother, leave alone.

    I had minor ‘surgery’ in a GP clinic that went very wrong, and has left me on meds for life. I refused spinal surgery when I broke my back, insisting only operate if necessary. Time healed it and I have no metalwork.

    My brother is a dentist, and would never recommend surgery unless necessary. Even a surgeon will tell you.

    Very true, Rachel.

    Scotroutes – We also notice his eye more when in a mirror. Very ‘weird’. Amazing what the brain ignores or recognises.

    Fossy – We’ve had surgeons (admittedly private and different culture) talk about it being a quick operation we should just have done. Not about it being necessary but risk vs benefit. Plenty of surgeons are happy to perform LASIK eye surgery when glasses or contacts do the job.

    Premier Icon jam bo
    Subscriber

    Plenty of surgeons are happy to perform LASIK eye surgery when glasses or contacts do the job.

    And how many of those have it done to themselves…I’d bet on pretty much zero.

    fossy
    Member

    Just exercising caution.

    I had the ruddy ‘snip’, very simple, made a right mess, and the ‘veg’ were damaged, so have the old Lance Armstrong juice to apply every day, otherwise I very quickly feel like crap. Be vary aware this is on your child’s face. Let them make the decision when old enough.

    As what jam bo says, you’ll not find many surgeons doing that on themselves.

    My ‘pain specialist’ surgeon said, you wont find any surgeons in ‘his speciality’ getting the snip. Wasn’t much help to me by then…. the pain was so bad I’d asked for the plumbs to be cut off.. they won’t do it… Still painful 6 years later.

    The main concern is your child’s well being – if they are bothered about it, then consider the op, if not, then don’t, until they can decide.

    My son is Type 1 diabetic, and wears an insulin pump and a blood glucose sensor all the time – he has wires and bits of plastic stuck on him – it’s ‘crap’ but it is the way it is.

    myti
    Member

    Not quite the same but as a child I was made to have various dental surgeries and braces to correct my sticky out teeth. I raged against the uncomfortable braces and can still remember crying when first trying to eat my bribery favourite dinner of chicken kebab with the braces in but I got used to them and as I grew to be older and care about such things as appearance I was glad that my mum made me have them. I wish apperance made no difference in this world and to some maybe it doesn’t but it can be tough to stand out.

    Given several surgeons say it’s ok, and all the people you know who’ve had it done say they wish they’d have it done earlier I think you should have it done. A six year old isn’t really able to express a useful opinion. He has no idea how life is for a teenager or young adult, you do. So like most parenting decisions of young kids, you’re on you own here.

    Obviously, if the idea really distresses him or if the risks start to look greater than presented to far you can change your mind.

    You’re not obliged to pick zero risk options for your kids – I make my kids go to school because I think it’s the best thing for them. Given 1 in 200 of us die in accidents on the roads I put them through substantial risk to get educated.

    My normal prejudice would be, like everyone else, to avoid surgery unless utterly necessary, but with the facts as stated, if it were my child I’d be doing it.

    Premier Icon jam bo
    Subscriber

    Given 1 in 200 of us die in accidents on the roads I put them through substantial risk to get educated.

    Make sure they get educated in statistics eh…

    Make sure they get educated in statistics eh…

    I confess that number is ten or fifteen years old. Is it much different today?

    EDIT: Checked for myself. Seems to have gone down a bit: 600k people die each year in the uk, 1800 of them on the roads. I make that about 1 in 300 these days.

    donald
    Member

    The lifetime risk of dying in a road accident is 1 in 240 so you could argue you are not far out.

    The risk of dying in a road accident in any year in the UK approaches 1 in 20,000 which jam bo could argue is very small.

    Statistics are funny things.

    The lifetime risk of dying in a road accident is 1 in 240 so you could argue you are not far out.

    The risk of dying in a road accident in any year in the UK approaches 1 in 20,000 which jam bo could argue is very small.

    Statistics are funny things.

    I was just quoting the one that used to be on the back of the Highway Code. 🙂 For the purposes of the point I was making 1 in 20k per year would have worked equally well. (…and when you think about it, it’s essentially the same number divided by the average life expectancy, so I’m not sure Jambo could argue it was a smaller number, or would want to.).

    FunkyDunc
    Member

    It sounds like your son doesn’t think it’s an issue and you would be changing his appearance to something he doesn’t want.

    At some stage he may well jump at the chance, just keep him informed with prejudicing his view

    Premier Icon funkmasterp
    Subscriber

    Did the people you spoke with give any specific reasons as to why they wished they’d had the procedure earlier in life?

    Thanks all.

    Lots of food for thought.

    “Did the people you spoke with give any specific reasons as to why they wished they’d had the procedure earlier in life?”

    Yep. They unanimously said it was because they wished they looked more normal (I can’t remember the exact phrasing). They didn’t like standing out and by the time they were more aware of it, they were stroppy and hormonal teenagers who struggled to communicate their feelings as well as they might have.

    Premier Icon timbog160
    Subscriber

    Having experienced a very similar situation the main thing to know is there is no right or wrong answer. FWIW I’d say get it done, one less thing to think about…

    globalti
    Member

    Why subject a child to the pain and discomfort of an operation if the thing isn’t bothering him? It might well right itself when his face finishes growing in his late teens. Anyway kids are much less judgmental nowadays.

    When I was about 7 my parents asked me if I wanted to be circumcised. I declined their offer because I couldn’t understand why I would want to get chopped up. I don’t know why they suggested it, presumably for the same reason they sent me away to boarding school – peer pressure.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    OP – given your child is ‘edging onto the autistic spectrum’ how they perceive the world (and what other people think of them) may well not match those other people you’ve spoken to about this issue.

    What some teenagers feel is a major issue sounds like a non-issue for your child now and may continue to be in the future.

    Also, for an autistic child the trauma of surgery etc may be significantly greater than you might expect. You could swap something that really doesn’t bother them for a long term issue around hospitals which may prove more of a problem than the eye as time goes on.

    loughor
    Member

    Very, very subjective issue. Is it likely to cause a teenager embarrassment in the years to come ?
    No real experience, but my mates kid when born had the odd shaped “bulb” cranium (don’t know correct term and in no way mean offense to anyone).
    Kid wore a rugby skull cap for two years, his Dad was happy but the kid was just a baby really. Whatever your and their decision, all the best 👍

    Lots of anecdotal fear mongering so far in this thread, usual for these forums and I suspect you were ready for random stories about lasers and sad testicles.

    We hear a lot of behaviour these days described as autistic when it is just a personality eccentricity, I mean you either have a brain disorder affecting daily behaviour or you do not. Not sure how autism would factor with the surgery and recovery, but you and your wife are the best people to know how he will personally deal with two months of post op care and the trauma involved directly after surgery.

    Blepharoplasty is a fairly minor op with very minimal risks and the recovery is very fast, especially in a healthy child, less than 2 weeks for bruising to be gone and the aftercare is very straight forward.

    Personally I probably would. We do live in a cruel world at times, I suspect you mention how good his current school is because you fear his next one may be less so. This probably makes you both think better to get this done now and avoid any potential bullying distractions as a teenager.

    Lastly, you mention open heart surgery in his past, this would be the biggest factor for me deciding if I put him through a non essential surgery right now, especially if he is still under the supervision of a cardiologist, I’d have a chat with them for advice if there are any direct surgery concerns you have.

    Premier Icon DezB
    Subscriber

    This is something you need to decide within your family.

    I had a weird ear when I was a kid, I do wish my parents had got it sorted for me when I was younger. I ended up paying to get it sorted myself in my 40s… and nobody noticed any difference. I do though!

    I had huge stick out ears. I was also born in Africa. For some reason it made me a huge target when I was younger for bullying. I put my name down for my ears to be pinned back when I was 11. I got a letter with a weeks notice to get them done when I was 16, going out with a serious girlfriend and had my exams to deal with. I had to wear a turban bandage for a fortnight. I still regard it as one of the best things I ever did.

    I also had knock knees. Not so bad for most people but due to the amount of sport I did upto about 28 I ruined my knees to the point I couldn’t sleep etc due to arthritis . Eventually after being offered knee replacement, they offered me the osteotomy to straighten the leg (the other snapped playing football and somehow straightened up when rebuilt). Considering it took me 6mths to recover from, I would have again snapped your hands off for that op in my younger years.

    The choice may be impossible to make but you have to take into account the world we live in and wether this may effect your child in a negative sense in the future. It may even mould them in the positive so it’s really a very difficult decision for you

    It may even mould them in the positive

    And LittlestHobo comes in with the ‘Boy Named Sue’ angle to add a nightmare extra layer of complexity and angst to an already difficult decision. 😀

    You’ve also got me wondering if I should deform my kids in a minor way so the grief they get as kids leads them to grow up to be Captains of industry or great Sportsmen. Parenting isn’t easy. 🙂

    Not trying to make the chaps choice more difficult. Just that I had what was ‘cosmetic surgery’ when I was younger and it was 100% worth it. Sorry if I came across poorly

    Not trying to make the chaps choice more difficult. Just that I had what was ‘cosmetic surgery’ when I was younger and it was 100% worth it. Sorry if I came across poorly

    Not at all, your post was first class IMHO, one of the best in the thread. I just found it amusing that your (perfectly reasonable) afterthought that giving a child smoother teenage years/young adulthood potentially might have a detrimental effect on their life demonstrated how difficult parenting is, and that made me chuckle.

    Ah sorry, misunderstood. My confrontational attitude rears it’s head again

    Thanks again for all the replies.

    I don’t know if I’d say he’s under the care of a cardiologist. He has bi-annual check-ups after surgery aged 6 months. We’re off for a check up next week which is why the op. has come to the forefront of our conversation.

    I worry about his next school, of course. It’s equally expensive and ‘nice’ but I think worrying is a parents’ natural state. Kids can be mean despite great staff and a wonderful school ethos.

    As teacher/parents, I think we’re both acutely aware of ‘normal’ both the students and the environments. Our son is quirky more than autistic. We wouldn’t bother with a diagnosis but we also see he can be a little socially unaware, sensitive, unhappy with change and other ASD traits. His personality is a factor but relatively small.

    Again, lots to think about and thanks for the interesting replies.

    slimjim78
    Member

    I can kind of relate, my infant son was born with a huge penis – but i’m determined not to let this hereditary curse hold him back.

    blader1611
    Member

    My son developed a squint in his eyes when he was 2. He wears glasses now which pretty much straighten his eye out but it isnt going to ever straighten up without the aid of surgery. It is classed as cosmetic so we have decided that he will decide if he has it and not us. He will be 6 this year so i think we have several more years before anything gets decided, he will be old enough to judge for himself and we will have the money set aside. He currently couldnt care less that he wears glasses so its no bother right now.

    natrix
    Member

    I would have thought that the first thing to do is to discuss it with his cardiologist and take things from there (taking my daughter for her regular paediatric cardiology check up tomorrow).

    Personally I would only go for the surgery option young if it would be much harder to correct when older, eg a huge overbite that requires maxillofacial surgery etc or if he is getting mercilessly bullied.

    As others said, perhaps the money aside for him.

    Maybe talk to a child psychiatrist first? It appears that there may be surgeons weighing in on this thread, but at the end of the day this procedure would be carried out for essentially psychological reasons and it would be best to consider the impact of not doing it Vs the effect of you deciding for him with a shrink. He might well resent you for making him feel different by putting him through further surgery.

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