Protruding Ears Infant Ear Deformities
Protruding ears, also called prominent ears, are one of the most common types of infant ear deformities, affecting about 5% of the population worldwide. The ears are considered to be protruding if they extend more than 2 cm from the side of the head. Protruding ears typically present bilaterally and occur when the antihelical fold (part of the Y-shaped cartilage near the center of the outer ear) does not form properly or is underdeveloped which causes the outer rim of the ear (helix) to stick out. In many cases of protruding ear, the concha (bowl-shaped portion of the ear just outside the ear canal) has an excessive amount of cartilage or is unusually deep resulting in the entire ear being pushed away from the side of the head. Protruding ear, like most infant ear deformities, is usually a congenital condition (present at birth). Many people with prominent ears have a family history of the condition.
Protruding ears typically do not cause any problems with hearing, however, can be a cause of psychological distress because of the effect on facial appearance. Studies show that protruding ears can be a catalyst for teasing, especially in children, and a detriment to self-esteem due to the aesthetics involved. Because of these psychosocial concerns, protruding ear correction is often desirable for new parents.
Can Protruding Ears Be Corrected Without Surgery?
Treatment for protruding ears can involve surgical or non-surgical methods depending on the age of the patient. At birth, the ear cartilage is soft and pliable and can be reshaped without surgery using an innovative technology developed in recent years, The Earwell™ Infant Ear Correction System. As time passes, the ear cartilage becomes more rigid, making corrective ear surgery (otoplasty) the best treatment option. Therefore, early intervention is key in being able to correct protruding ears without surgery.
Non-Surgical Treatment for Protruding Ears
When utilized within the first few weeks of life, The Earwell™ Infant Ear Correction System can painlessly reshape the ears and bring them closer to the head. Placing the Earwell™ System can be done during an office visit and takes only a few minutes. The system is comprised of four components which create a mold that conforms the ears into a natural shape and growth pattern. The Earwell™ Infant Ear Correction System is held in place with specialized adhesive retention strips which will need to be monitored and replaced periodically over the next few weeks. In most cases, the entire process is completed within four to six weeks and no other treatment is necessary. The Earwell™ Infant Ear Correction System is consistently successful, resulting in beautifully shaped ears and involving no surgery, no incisions, and no recovery time.
Benefits of the EarWell™ Infant Ear Correction System include:
- Non-surgical permanent method to correct infant ear deformities
- FDA approved
- 90% success rate
- Results typically within weeks
- Eliminates the anxiety of waiting to see if the ear might self-correct
- Less expensive than otoplasty (surgical ear reconstruction)
- Often covered by insurance
Surgical Correction for Protruding Ears
Once the ear cartilage has begun to calcify, or harden, non-surgical methods of correcting the ears are not usually the recommended treatment since the success rate decreases as the cartilage becomes less malleable and harder to manipulate. The ears grow to their mature size between ages five and seven. This is generally the recommended time for your child to undergo corrective ear reconstruction (otoplasty).
Otoplasty for protruding ears may utilize a combination of two different procedures:
- Mustarde’ procedure: Through an incision made behind the ear, a proper antihelical fold is created using specialized sutures which bend the ear into normal position.
- Davis procedure: Excessive conchal bowl cartilage is removed through an incision behind the ear to allow the ear to sit closer to the skull.
Incisions made during protruding ear correction are placed in the natural fold where the ear meets the head whenever possible. It is important to select a plastic surgeon who is skilled at both of these procedures to prevent recurrence from the excess cartilage becoming stretched.
If you have a newborn and are concerned about protruding or prominent ears, please utilize our physician locator for a list of experts qualified in placing The Earwell™ Infant Ear Correction System. We are also pleased to refer you to an experienced plastic surgeon highly skilled in performing otoplasty for patients who do not qualify for The Earwell™ Infant Ear Correction System.