A nine year-old girl has been saved from a lifetime of taunts about her protruding ears with a pioneering 15-minute op that saw them corrected with GOLD.
Kirsty Biggs has become the youngest patient in Britain to undergo the plastic surgery with 24-carat gold-plated wires now pinning back her ears.
Kirsty had been taunted at junior school because her ears stuck out more than usual and her parents Colin and Donna feared she faced years of bullying.
Dad Colin, 44, sympathised because he had suffered himself as a child when he was nicknamed ‘Dumbo’ because of his own ears.
Colin and Donna agreed for Kirsty to take part in clinical trials of a new speedy procedure being trialled at London’s Royal Free Hospital.
Instead of the more common and higher risk surgery lasting 90 minutes under general anaesthetic her ears were pinned back in just 15 minutes.
She underwent local anaesthetic as her ears were each fitted with 24-carat, gold-plated wires no thicker than a human hair which is not invisible under the skin.
Mother-of-three Donna, 40, a part-time cleaner, said: “When Kirsty reached about nine months we realised her ears suck out a bit so we started to research different surgeries.
“When she was about three she started going to a little play group and we were aware of some teasing.
“Kids were being mean but she was too young to realise it.
“Colin was teased when he was younger because he has quite big ears and we were worried Kirsty might get bullied as well.
“We knew how cruel the world could be so we decided to look into the different procedures.
“We didn’t want Kirsty to be victimised and this wasn’t for any cosmetic reasons – we just know how mean kids can be.
“We live in a society that can be very narrow-minded at times and we knew it might be a problem for her growing up, especially during her teens.”
Colin, a mechanical engineer, added: “I’ve been quite shy for most of my life and conscious of my ears.
“For a long time it mattered to me and I would never have the confidence to put my hand up in class.
“It’s got to a point now where it doesn’t bother me but kids can be cruel at times, especially in their early teens and girls in particular.
“You hear about things on the news where kids have committed suicide because they have been bullied.
“But now Kirsty has the confidence to look good rather than have people sniggering at her.”
Donna and Colin, from Bedford, were approached by plastic surgeon Norbert Kang who was pioneering the new procedure.
The couple agreed to put Kirsty on his waiting list while he developed his technique and the youngster was fitted with the implants last year at the age of eight.
She was given a local anaesthetic and a small incision was made behind her ears where the golden implants were inserted.
Cartilage in the ear is automatically gripped and folded by the inserts to hold the ears back in their new position.
A couple of absorbable stitches are used to close the incisions and the procedure is done in less than 15 minutes.
Kirsty’s implants were free but they would have cost £3,465 if they had paid for them.
When she is older she can have the implants removed if she wishes, if she is happy with her ears.
Kirsty said: “I’m really happy with my ears now. All my friends have been really nice about it and they haven’t teased me.”
Consultant Mr Kang said: “I’ve been pleased with the results of the clinical trials so far, and I am looking forward to treating more patients as well as gathering further clinical data from the initial group of patients who have been treated.”