Stahl’s Ear Infant Ear Deformity
Stahl’s ear is an infant ear deformity characterized by malformation of the upper portions of the outer ear and a flattened ear rim due to misshapen cartilage which creates a pointed appearance at the top of the ear. Because of this pointy appearance, it is sometimes called pointed ear, elf ear, Vulcan ear or Spock ear (in reference to the Vulcan character Mr. Spock from the Star Trek television series).
Why Are My Baby’s Ears Pointed?
Stahl’s ear is a congenital (present at birth) ear deformity. No definitive cause for this is known at this time, and there are typically no other symptoms that present with the condition. Normally, there are two folds of cartilage, or crus, that comprise the upper portion of the ear, the inferior fold and the superior fold (see anatomy of the infant ear). Stahl’s ear occurs when an extra fold of cartilage is present horizontally. This extra crease extends to the helical rim (outer edge) which can cause the helix (upper part of the ear) to unfurl and create a pointed shape.
Most experts agree that this ear deformity involves the abnormal insertion of an intrinsic outer ear muscle called the auricular transverse muscle which creates the extra cartilage that crosses over the scapha (elongated portion of the ear between the helix and antihelix). Stahl’s ear can vary greatly in its degree of severity. While functionality/hearing is not affected, more severe cases can be a source of teasing and/or bullying, as well as self-esteem problems, leading to a desire to have the condition corrected.
Stahl’s Ear Corrective Treatment
Non-Surgical Treatment for Stahl’s Ear
Timeliness of treatment will determine whether Stahl’s ear can be treated non-surgically or surgically. When utilized within the first few weeks of life while the ear cartilage is still soft and malleable, The Earwell™ Infant Ear Correction System can successfully mold the ear into a more aesthetically pleasing shape. The Earwell™ Infant Ear Correction System is a non-surgical, innovative solution co-invented by renowned plastic surgeon, Dr. Steve Byrd, for correcting infant ear deformities such as Stahl’s ear. The Earwell™ System reshapes the ear using specialized molding placed on the ear which is left in place typically for four to six weeks. The placement of The Earwell™ Infant Ear Correction System can be done in just a few minutes during an office visit and requires no anesthesia or incisions. It is a quick, pain-free method to correct infant ear deformities.
When treating Stahl’s ear, The Earwell™ Infant Ear Correction System stretches the auricular transverse muscle to:
- Restore cartilage shape
- Eliminate the transverse crus
- Restore normal appearance to the superior crus
Benefits of the EarWell™ Infant Ear Correction System include:
- Non-surgical permanent method to correct infant ear deformities
- FDA approved
- Pain free
- 90% success rate
- Results typically within weeks
- Eliminates the anxiety of waiting to see if the ear might self-correct
- Less expensive than surgical ear reconstruction (otoplasty)
- In many cases, procedure is covered by insurance
In cases of Stahl’s ear that do not fall into the window of time (within weeks of birth) in which The Earwell™ Infant Ear Correction System can be used, surgical correction is the recommended method of treatment. Ear reconstructive surgery (otoplasty) for Stahl’s ear is typically more successful when performed after the ear cartilage has hardened which occurs around age five. Once the cartilage has completely strengthened, otoplasty can be performed by a pediatric plastic surgery specialist.
During Stahl’s ear corrective surgery, the extra cartilage/crease (third crus) is completely removed to eliminate the pointed portion at the top of the ear. If necessary, the ear may also be reshaped using sutures placed in the cartilage of the ear. Dissolvable stitches are used to close the incision. Recovery after otoplasty for Stahl’s ear is approximately 1-2 weeks.
If you have a newborn and are concerned about Stahl’s ear, 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 a highly skilled plastic surgeon experienced extensively in performing Stahl’s ear otoplasty for patients who do not qualify for The Earwell™ Infant Ear Correction System.