Infant Ear Molding
Studies show that 15-20% of newborns are born with some degree of an ear deformity.
Difference between Ear Deformity and Ear Malformation:
When all parts of the ear are present, but some part is misshapen due to abnormal underlying cartilage.
CAN be molded.
When all parts of the ear are not present (e.g. microtia).
Can NOT be molded.
Normal Ear Anatomy
With ear deformities, sometimes just one ear is affected, while other times it can be both ears. The deformities can also be different from side to side.
Newborn ear molding is a non-surgical procedure to correct an abnormally shaped infant ear. Molding is performed by placing a customized mold on the ear which applies gentle pressure to reshape it to the correct shape. This can be performed in the first month after birth because the ear cartilage is still soft and pliable. Ear molding is non-surgical and is performed in our office.
When Does Baby Ear Cartilage Harden?
Studies have shown that baby ear cartilage starts to harden about 6-7 weeks after birth. This is sometimes delayed in premature babies whose ear cartilage is softer for longer. The ear cartilage remains soft because of the estrogen hormone that is still circulating in the baby from the mother. The level of estrogen starts to drop off around 6 weeks after birth.
It is best to start ear molding in the first few weeks after birth before the cartilage starts to harden.
Correct Misshapen Baby Ears
When we reshape a baby’s ears, it takes a few weeks to bend the cartilage into the new shape. The ear then has to be held in that shape until the cartilage starts to harden, so that it doesn’t bend back into the abnormal shape. This can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks depending on the severity of the deformity, the age of the baby, and how soft or hard the cartilage is when molding is started. We see you back in the office for follow-up appointments every 1-2 weeks to check the progress.
Ear molding is pain-free and doesn’t affect baby hearing or sleeping.