Prominent ears can be seen in babies. Since the ears are not quite developed yet, this may represent an opportunity to reshape the ears without surgery. The cartilage in a baby is quite soft and is growing. By applying pressure, the ears can “learn” to be placed in a more against the head orientation.
How do you accomplish this? A mold can be applied to the ear and held in place with a headband. The mold, which is sometimes supplemented by tape, holds the ear and it will grow in a better position. Some of the challenges of this approach is that babies in general do not like materials on their ears
One big subset of patients who have otoplasty are young children. Parents may notice prominent ears at an early age and feel a need to correct the ears prior to school. From an anatomic standpoint, the ears reach near their adult size by age 5-6. In addition, many young children may benefit from a psychologic well being standpoint to have an otoplasty prior to entering elementary school.
Obviously, correction of promient ears should be a well thought out decision by both parents, surgeon and sometimes child. The risks and benefits of the procedure are considered. A “borderline” or slightly above average prominent ear may not be as good of a candidate as a very prominent ear in a young male. Other considerations are the overall maturity of the child so that recovery will be as ideal as possible. While adults can have the procedure under local anesthesia, young children by in large have a general anesthetic.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much time will my child have to have off school?
Typically about a week. It is best done under a break during the school year. Activity can be slowly increased as the child’s recovery progresses.
What else can I do to ensure the best possible results?
Compliance with instructions is helpful. Wearing the headband during the first few weeks of recovery can help with patients early on as well.
Is it a painful recovery?
Most children do quite well and need little pain medication.
Are there possible complications?
With any procedure, complications are possible. See the section on complications for more information.
Does Dr. Shah perform imaging for otoplasty patients?
He does not. He feels it is better for patients to see before and after examples in the office.