It is important to offer realistic expectations of the surgical reconstructions. It is important to stress to parents that surgical outcomes can be wonderful…but are not always a perfect science. It is our responsibility as surgeons to be truthful, realistic and caring. We owe this to parents.
There are four options for reconstruction of the microtic ear:
- Do nothing
- Cartilage technique
- Medpor technique
The most important question to ask the surgeon:
- How many of these microtia reconstructions do you perform on children?
- Do you specialize only in children or do you operate on adults as well?
- Do you specialize only in microtia or do you perform other plastic surgery operations in adults and children?
- What are your complication rates?
Responsibilities as surgeons:
- Offer patients all of the alternatives (even if it means another surgeon has more expertise in a certain technique)
- Be truthful by offering the advantages and disadvantages of the surgical technique
- Remind the parent that this is not a perfect science and complications can occur (there is no surgeon on the face of this earth that can or should say that every surgery will be perfect)
- Do not push your technique on a parent
- Let the parents decide on the best option for their child once they have had a chance to evaluate ALL options
- Remember that neither the parent nor the surgeon is undergoing surgery….the child is!
On the topic of timing and number of surgeries:
- There is absolutely no reason to rush a surgery
- One less surgery does not necessarily make it better
- Remember that the most important goal is the end result, so starting a surgery at an earlier age or pushing the envelope to do everything in one surgery may compromise the new ear
On the topic of insurance:
- All offices have different billing practices
- Must ask the surgeon how their office handles their billing
- Surgeons that perform microtia surgery on a routine basis have special relationships with insurance companies
- This relationship helps the patient and can lessen the financial burden
- These children are a true blessing
- They can conquer the world just like any other chil
- We need to give them every opportunity to succeed
- Never let a question or a concern go unanswered
- Live life to the fullest