What is a newborn ear deformity?
This is considered an outer ear malformation that is seen in newborns. About 15% to 30% of newborns will have some type of ear deformity. This can happen in utero based on the way the baby is positioned and how the ear develops. Outer ear deformities can affect different parts of the outer ear anatomy. Most newborn ear deformities do not improve on their own and will need some type of intervention to improve appearance.
Types of common ear deformities treated in our office:
- Lop ear or cup/lidding/constricted ear: occurs when the top of the ear is folded over.
- Stahl’s ear: an extra fold on the top of ear cartilage is present that causes the top of the ear to be pointed.
- Protruding ears or prominent ears: this is defined if the outer ear protrudes greater than 2cm from the head.
- There can be a combination of above deformities as well.
Ear molding options offered in our office
Ear molding is recommended to be started within the first and second week of life to achieve best results. Ears are easily molded and pliable until 6 weeks of age due to the amount of estrogen in the body. If ear molding is started after 6 weeks of age, this process is less effective and may need surgical correction in future. We offer ear splinting and the EarWell device to correct deformities.
- Ear splinting
The ear molding process typically takes 2-6 weeks to shape the ear depending on the ear deformity. This process is over 90% effective if started during the 1st and 2nd week of life. This process takes place in our office with flexible molding material that is placed on the ear with steri-strips. Close follow-up every week will take place until the ear molding process is completed. This is billed to insurance as office visit which may be applied to deductible or coinsurance. There is a $30 supply fee for the first visit. Results of ear splinting:
- Ear splinting
We do offer EarWell in the office as well. The Ear Well is a device that is placed over the ear and uses retractors to correct the ear. This should be started in the 1st and 2nd week of life. Typically the device is in place for 2 weeks and may need up to 3 applications to correct the ear. The device is FDA approved, has over a 90% success rate, is painless, less expensive than a surgical option, and may be covered by most insurances. To find out more information regarding the Ear Well: www.earwells.com
EarWell® Parent Page – EarWell® Infant Ear Correction System (earwells.com)
Typically done after 5 years of age if the ear deformity is not corrected as a newborn with ear molding or the ear deformity is not able to be corrected with ear molding. This is typically not covered by most insurances.