Genetics, and ear positioning in the womb and shortly after birth can contribute to misfolded or prominent ears; and ear deformities do not resolve on their own in every child. Thankfully, newborn ear misfoldings and deformities can be corrected with nonsurgical reshaping if treated early enough. The newborn baby’s ear cartilage is soft and pliable due to high circulating levels of maternal estrogen, and this allows for reshaping or molding the ear without surgery within the first few weeks of the child’s life. Facial Plastic surgeon Dr. Inessa Fishman performs newborn ear correction by splinting or molding the baby’s ear with a device called Earwells, or custom designed splints. Treatment is performed over a period of 3-8+ weeks, and is painless and noninvasive. The newborn ear correction treatment does not require anesthesia or sedation. With newborn ear splinting, Dr. Fishman successfully corrects misshapen or prominent ears in over 90% of newborn babies.
Newborn ear correction is a non-surgical, non-invasive and painless procedure performed in the comfort of our clinic without any sedation or pain medications. As part of the Earwell treatment, Dr. Fishman trims a small strip of hair around the to-be-treated ear, and places an Earwell device or a specially designed custom splint onto the ear with the help of adhesive tape. She then reshapes the ear to a more satisfactory position and allows the device to stay on for 10-14 days. Dr. Fishman instructs the child’s caretakers to return to the clinic approximately every 2 weeks for changing the splint or to complete treatment. Babies tend to feel most relaxed soon after eating; we recommend arriving to your appointment early, and with plenty of food for the baby, to make the appointment more pleasant and smooth. Dr. Fishman also recommends having your baby photos taken before your consultation, as she shaves part of the baby’s hair before ear splinting.
Made of soft silicone or flexible wires padded with silicone and tape, the ear splints do not interfere with the baby’s eating, sleeping, and comfort. The ear canal is completely open during ear correction treatment, allowing the baby to hear her parents’ voices and all other sounds in a normal way.
There are few side effects to newborn ear correction, with the most common being mild skin redness and irritation from adhesive (glue) use. The next most common risk is failure to get desired results of treatment, which happens in less than 10% of treated kids. Exceedingly rarely, infection of the ear or erosion of the ear cartilage may occur. Newborn ear correction is overall a safe and low-risk treatment.
After Dr. Fishman places an ear splinting device onto your child’s ear(s), you should adhere to these instructions:
Most pediatric ear deformities are congenital, which means they are present at birth; deformities specifically refer to conditions where all the pieces of the external ear are present, but may be misfolded or not properly aligned. Deformities differ from malformations, where parts of the ear may be very small or absent. Malformations may be more commonly associated with genetic disorders, such as Goldenhar or CHARGE syndromes.
Newborn ear deformities may result from genetic predisposition or positioning in the womb. The causes of some newborn ear deformities are not well understood.
Common infant ear deformities include:
With splinting or molding treatment using a medical device, many newborn ear deformities can be treated. Ear molding relies on the soft and pliable nature of the newborn ear cartilage, which stiffens as levels of maternal estrogen decrease in the baby’s system. For cases where the deformity persists after the first few weeks of life, surgery may be the only treatment option.
Studies looking at newborn ear deformities have shown that approximately 1/3 of mild ear deformities improve or resolve without intervention in the first week after birth, and 2/3 of all protruding ears or deformities will remain the same or worsen with time. Ears that are either compressed or folded at birth can naturally unfold and regain a more normal shape, but ears that appear persistently protruding or deformed beyond the first week of life are unlikely to get better on their own, and may benefit from ear molding.
EarWell is affixed to your baby’s skin by a special medical adhesive designed to maximize adhesion and minimize trauma. It will hold the EarWell™ in place for approximately 10-14+ days.
The top cover of the EarWell™ should only be removed by a physician. Please do not remove or clean it. If the cover becomes dislodged, please contact Aviva Plastic Surgery within 24 hours.
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