Misfolding or a deformity of the external (or outer) ear is a common finding in newborn children; in fact, approximately 1/3 of newborns have some sort of external ear deformity, ranging from very mild kinks of pinched areas in the outer rim of the ear to severely constricted and misfolded ears. Luckily, in the expert hands of Dr. Fishman, these deformities can usually be fixed non surgically.
Genetics and ear positioning in the womb and shortly after birth can lead to ear deformities at birth. These deformities are usually purely cosmetic and do not impact the infant’s hearing but can still be cause for concern for new parents. Correction of these deformities early in life helps to prevent later ear related peer ridicule and ear correction surgery. As newborns have high levels of mom’s estrogen circulating at birth, their cartilage is still soft and their ears very amenable to reshaping. In Dr. Fishman’s words “I like the non-surgical approach to newborn ear correction because it has a high successful treatment rate, does not hurt, and does not require any sedation. If not corrected during the first few months of life, some children may require corrective ear surgery later in life.”
The earlier a newborn is treated, the better the expected results. As there is roughly a 6-8 week window after birth before estrogen levels begin to decrease, Dr. Fishman ideally likes to begin newborn ear correction treatment within the first two weeks of life. She often uses soft silicone molds created by the company EarWell, or customized splints she makes herself in office. These splints/molds reshape the ears by holding them in the desired position and then replaced as needed or every 2 weeks. In the past, she has also recommended the Ear Buddies system to parents, which requires parents to apply splints at home.
Typically, newborn ear deformities can be corrected within 6-8 weeks of treatment and Dr. Fishman has seen tremendous improvement in previous patients. In fact, she has seen improvement in over 90% of newborn cases. The treatment is painless and requires no cutting or sedation; in fact, many newborns sleep soundly throughout placement! Even better, the treatment requires little at home maintenance. The molds must simply be kept dry and occasionally will need reinforcement with small pieces of medical tape.
As the treatment is time sensitive, Dr. Fishman recommends seeking treatment for your newborn as soon as possible. While it is possible to treat for up to 2-3 months of life, success rates are much higher when treatment is performed within the first few weeks of life. New patients are first seen with a consultation to allow Dr. Fishman to confirm that your infant is a good candidate for ear correction and to discuss the treatment with parents. If she feels treatment is appropriate, she recommends treatment begin at the time of consultation.
Newborn ear corrections are sometimes covered by insurance; however, it is important to note that Dr. Fishman is out of network with all insurance agencies. To help cover the cost of treatment, we offer several financing options in our practice; we are happy to discuss these with you after your consult. Aviva Plastic Surgery offers both virtual and in person consultations, however in the case of newborn ear deformities an initial in person visit is recommended. To schedule a consultation, the office can be reached via phone at 678-974-8435 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.