Growing numbers of children are having plastic surgery for free in public hospitals to pin back prom-inent ears, new figures show.
Although it is next to impossible to have plastic surgery for cosmetic reasons in public hospitals an exception is made in the case of these children.
Nearly 400 children had the operation over the last two years. Dr Peter Meagher, a plastic surgeon in St James's Hospital, said it was mostly performed in Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children and involved pinning back the prominent ears in a child who could be bullied.
There has been a sharp rise in plastic surgery in public hospitals in formerly obese patients who have shed weight but need an envelope of overhanging skin removed.
Dr Meagher said there had been an increase in the numbers of people who have had liposuction and lipectomy procedures. This was necessary because they were left with aprons of skin that can hang down after losing a huge amount of weight.
"The abdominal fat can be hitting their knees," he explained.
The figures show 88 patients had facelifts for browlifts over the course of three years. However, it had nothing to do with looking younger. It is a treatment for facial palsy.
There were 236 rhinoplasty operations – so-called nose jobs – over two years, mostly on people who broke their noses after an accident and may also have trouble breathing.
The HSE said plastic surgery in public hospitals is only performed on the basis of a clinical diagnosis of a doctor and not simply following a request from a doctor as is the case in private clinics.
Private health insurers limit the amount of procedures they provide cover for, even for some clinical reasons.