Ear Molding: An Overview

About Dr. Hootan Zandifar

Dr. Hootan Zandifar is board-certified in Otolaryngology and fellowship-trained in Facial Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery. Dr. Zandifar is the director of the Skin Center at the Osborne Head and Neck Institute based at Cedars-Sinai Medical Towers.

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About Dr. Ronen Nazarian

Dr. Ronen Nazarian is the Director of Otology and Hearing Disorders at Osborne Head and Neck Institute in Los Angeles, CA. Dr. Nazarian specializes in treating hearing and balance disorders. He is board-certified in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and has completed fellowship training in Otology and Skull Base Surgery.

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Using EarWell System to Decrease the Need for Otoplasty in Children 

About 5% of the babies are born with some type of an external ear or auricular deformity. Microtia (absent or severely deformed external ear) is the most extensive type of ear deformity. Microtia is also often associated with hearing deficit in the afflicted ear. However, the more common types of ear deformity involve mal-shaped external cartilages of the ear. These can include protruding ears, cup ear deformity, Stahl’s ear deformity (also known as Spock ear or Elf ear) and many other common minor external ear deformities.

These misshapen ears can have drastic psychosocial effects on children that can continue well into adulthood. These deformities are usually addressed with a surgical procedure called otoplasty. During otoplasty the abnormal ear cartilage is either removed or reconstructed to look more normal. However, otoplasty can not be performed until the ear has fully grown. This usually happens by around the age of 6.

ear molding
Image 1: Helical rim irregularity and Stahl’s ear before EarWell (left). After EarWell treatment (right). (Photos courtesy of Becon Medical)

Fortunately, there is another non-surgical method to correct most if not all of these auricular deformities within the first few weeks after birth. This process is called ear molding and takes advantage of the fact that during the first few weeks of life, maternal hormones circulating in the baby’s blood make the ear cartilages moldable. Thus, if ear molding is started within the first 2-3 weeks of life, after a period of 3-6 weeks the ear can have a normal shape that will last a lifetime. Via this process, we can avoid a more invasive surgery later on in life.

The EarWell system was developed specifically to aid in the process of ear molding with minimal discomfort. It makes the treatment regimen associated with misshapen ears, easier on the baby and the parents.

To learn more about ear molding or otoplasty, please visit: www.eardoctorla.com