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Fixing Ear Deformities in Newborns in the First Six Weeks of Life
Did you know that 20% to 30% of newborns have some kind of ear deformity? This includes ears that stick out (called protuberant ears), ears that are pointy (called, appropriately enough, Elfin ears), and other deformities, such as the lack of curvature at the top of the ears, or something as un-technical as just “funny looking” or “squashed looking” ears.
These deformities happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s genetic. Sometimes it happens on the way through the birth canal. The problem for parents is that the pediatrician has no way to know whether the deformity will correct itself over time or if the parents will face an ear surgery to correct it, when the child is elementary-school age.
Most pediatricians have been taught to apply medical tape over deformed ears in hopes of effecting a change in the ear’s shape. This is usually done as soon as possible after birth as, during the first month or so of life, a baby has a large amount of mother’s estrogen in his system, which makes ear cartilage very “adjustable.”
This estrogen will diminish over the first six to eight weeks, which is the reason that a pediatrician will apply tape at the baby’s first visit—to take advantage of the ear cartilage’s ability to remold, thanks to the estrogen stores.
However, tape is really only effective for ears that stick out, as other deformities need something to “remold” them into a more natural shape, and tape cannot do that.
Fortunately, there’s a method to correct infant ear deformities. Although created by a plastic surgeon, it’s not surgery. It’s a completely painless and temporary, soft, plastic “ear muff” that fits over a baby’s ear. A Baylor study showed that it resolved 98% of ear deformities in 250 infants over a period of six to eight weeks.
The device is called EarWell, and it’s the safest and best way to remold many types of external ear problems.
If upon examination of your newborn’s ears, you find that they are protuberant or misshapen, then please make an appointment with us as soon as possible: you have a window of opportunity during the first six weeks of life that does not exist later on. Almost all health insurance covers the cost, so there’s no need to wait.
Scheduling a Consult
Your plastic surgeon will discuss the details of Earwell infant ear correction during your consultation in one of our Georgia or South Carolina offices. Call 912.920.2090 or complete and submit the form to schedule a confidential Earwell infant ear correction consultation with Drs. Shanklin, McGovern, or Huntly.