Folded Ear in Newborns: Treatment Options

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.

My baby was born with a folded ear. What treatment options are available?

A “folded” ear that is present at birth is an external ear deformity typically referred to as lidding. Lidding occurs when the upper part of the outer ear cartilage folds over and the top part of the ear appears crunched in. It is a common external ear deformity that does not cause any hearing abnormalities. However, it is a deformity that usually remains with a person into adulthood.

A common and valid concern that parents have when they have a newborn with external ear deformities is the fear of bullying in school. Fortunately, for a folded ear, there are several corrective options that are available.

newborn folded ear treatment
Figure 1: Folded ear (aka: lidding ear) before treatment (Left) and after EarWell™ treatment (Right). (Photos courtesy of Becon Medical)


One of the easiest solutions is to intervene early with a process referred to as ear molding. When ear molding is applied within the first few weeks of life, it can reshape the ear cartilage to a normal shape without any incision or surgery. This is possible because maternal hormones are still present in the baby’s blood during the first weeks of life. These hormones allow the ear cartilage to be moldable during this brief window.

EarWell™ Infant Ear Correction System is a system developed to assist surgeons and parents in the process of ear molding. This makes the entire encounter seamless and easy to adhere to for parents.

If ear molding is not available or was not initiated during the first few weeks of life, then the ear can be corrected via a procedure called otoplasty. Otoplasty is a procedure that changes the shape of the ear. In these instances, parents would have to wait until their child is at least 5 years old to proceed with this procedure. The reason for the wait is to allow the ear cartilage to grow to its adult size so that the future growth of the ear is not affected.

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