When Is Cosmetic Surgery the Answer to Bullying?


Rode said the responsibility must lie with schools and other places where children are as well as with society.

"It is our responsibility on a national level, not the responsibility of parents of victims to make change happen."

What Lies Ahead for Samantha

Roselles said she decided to go through with the surgery because she's worried the teasing may turn into more serious bullying.

"Having it done now is probably the best, instead of when she gets older and they make fun of her more."

Otoplasty isn't covered by insurance, though it used to be.

"If it's not causing a functional problem, then it's not covered," said Lukash.

Otoplasty can cost between $5,000 and $10,000. That is more than Roselles could afford, so she reached an organization called the Little Baby Face Foundation. Surgeons working with the foundation operate for free on children with facial deformities, and the foundation covers other expenses, like Samantha's trip to New York City.

Otoplasty is the most common cosmetic operation done on children. In addition to cleft lip or cleft palate surgery, it's the only cosmetic procedure acceptable for young children.

Dr. Steven Pearlman, a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in New York, is scheduled to perform Samantha's surgery.

"She's going to have two related procedures. The general one is otoplasty for children whose ears stick out. We set back the ear and make it look more natural and normal," Pearlman said.

The other procedure will be on her right ear, which is folded over. That condition is called lop ear. Both surgeries have a high success rate.

"The ideal age is about six years old," said Pearlman. "The ear is 90 percent of adult size, so we can operate successfully and a child is old enough to understand why the operation is important."

Samantha said she is nervous about having surgery, but excited about her trip to the Big Apple. She's also excited about doing things many little girls her age get to do.

"She wants to wear her hair like other girls in her class do," said Roselles, "and she wants to get her ears pierced."

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