Non-Surgical Repair of Infant Ear Deformities
According to recent studies, between 15 and 29% of all newborns have an ear deformity. While it may not interfere with hearing, other studies show that 80% of these deformities will either worsen or remain the same over the child’s lifetime. There is a new, non-surgical method to remodel infant ear deformities called the EarWell™. Parents of our ear repair surgery Boca Raton infants that are treated with EarWell™ are finding it to be a wonderful alternative to a laterotoplasty (ear pinning) procedure, which is currently the standard corrective ear surgery.
Ear Deformities in Infants
There are numerous, treatable ear deformities, including those in the photo at the right. Bat ear, lop ear, cup deformity, Stahl’s bar, cryptotia and rim kink are but a few variations of infant ear deformities. Ears that stick out, called protuberant ears, are among the most common ear deformities in infants.
Ear Deformity Studies
A Baylor University study was conducted on 250 infants with ear deformities. Of the infants treated over a course of 6-8 weeks, 95% of infants had effective ear reshaping with the EarWell™, a painless, soft ear covering. Infants older than 6 weeks of age had a lower remodeling result, although some infants as old as 3 months of age did experience some remodeling and their ears were improved.
How EarWell™ Works
The EarWell™ takes advantage of the maternal hormones that are present in newborns to remodel the ears. When a baby is born, the mother’s hormones are coursing through the child’s bloodstream, primarily estrogen. This dissipates over the first 6 weeks after birth until no estrogen remains. It’s during this time of estrogen presence that the ears are most pliable and, therefore, most receptive to being remolded into the proper shape.
Once Dr. Berman has examined your infant’s ears, he will apply the EarWell™ in his Boca Raton plastic surgery office. The EarWell™ is composed of a soft material in several parts. First, he will cleanse the area around the ears and shave off some of the hair directly around the ears so the EarWell™ will adhere well. Then, he will apply what is called the posterior cradle, which is a soft circle of material that adheres to the skin. After this, he will apply a conchal conformer, which is a soft, round piece that goes into the middle of the ear (the baby can easily hear through this). The top cradle is then applied. This is all done without anesthesia or any discomfort to your baby. You’ll go home with some care instructions and extra tape in case the EarWell™ comes loose due to shampooing or the infant’s movements. The EarWell™ remains in place for two weeks before you’ll see Dr. Berman again to replace it. Most ears are remodeled within 6-8 weeks, or 3-4 visits. The entire application takes less than 30 minutes. It is quite often covered by health insurance.
The Importance of EarWell™
Parents of newborns are often told that ear deformities will disappear as the baby grows, but studies show this is unlikely. In fact, 80% of ear deformities do not improve with time, and some of them worsen. Before the availability of the EarWell™ Infant Ear Correction System, infants with ear deformities faced either a lifetime of embarrassment and teasing from peers or a future otoplasty procedure. However, EarWell™ eliminates the need for otoplasty, is covered by most health insurers, and eliminates the potential for teasing early on.
Here are some examples of infants whose ears were corrected with the EarWell™
The EarWell System consists of four basic parts:
- A base that fits over the baby’s ear
- A retractor that reshapes the baby’s ear rim
- A conchal former that reshapes the center of the ear
- Another cradle that holds all of the pieces of the EarWell™ together
With these four soft pieces, the EarWell will reshape the cartilage of your newborn’s ears into the correct curvature. To see more before/after pictures, including those of rather severe infant ear deformities, that have been successfully treated, visit the EarWell™ page at www.earwells.com.
As a father and a plastic surgeon. Dr. Jonathan Berman knows the problems faced by children and adults with external ear deformities. Otoplasty is a procedure he performs often. However, he’s delighted that EarWell™ offers an alternative for parents and infants. If you’re uncertain whether EarWell™ is right for your baby, just call us at 561-235-3208 for a consultation. Time is of the essence, so the sooner you call, the more likely the EarWell™ can effectively reshape your baby’s ears.