An 11-year-old girl underwent plastic surgery after she said she was bullied at school over her protruding ears.
Bella Harrington, 11, of Richmond, Va., has always been embarrassed about her ears.
“They would just like, call me nasty names and make me really self-conscious,” Bella told Dr. Joe Niamtu of Love That Face before the surgery. “I started noticing that my ears were different in like third or fourth grade […] I’d fix my hair to where it wasn’t showing.”
She is part of the five percent of the population who have protruding ears. While Niamtu told InsideEdition.com ears that stick out tend to look cute on babies, he finds many young patients and their parents approach him with concern about them as they get older.
“Unfortunately, once they get into school, it’s a high area of ridicule,” Niamtu said. “The problem is that these children get teased and the studies show that this can have a permanent effect on their self-confidence and body image.”
Her mom, Sabrina Harrington, agreed that it’s been difficult to watch her daughter struggle with her ears.
“It’s been heartbreaking, especially knowing that she inherited the ears from me,” she said. “I know what I went through growing up, and now my little girl, who is the most beautiful thing to me, is going through the same thing.”
After chatting with Bella and Sabrina, Niamtu agreed to give her the ears of her dreams.
When they finally unwrapped the bandages around her head 24 hours after the surgery, Bella couldn’t help but cry.
“I like it,” she whispered through tears.
Although some might ask whether 11 years old is too young to receive cosmetic surgery, Niamtu said he often performs the procedure, known as otoplasty, on younger children around four or five years old.
“There are some people that feel cosmetic surgery shouldn’t even be done at all, but most people see value in this,” he explained. “And if a child is healthy then there is no reason not to do it young — young people heal better, they have less medical problems […] these patients are so much happier and it really boosts their self-confidence.”