Marc J. Elkowitz, M.D., F.A.C.S - Harry H. Intsiful, M.D., F.A.C.S - Sophie Bartsich, M.D., F.A.C.S
Aksana Jensen, Aesthetician
Protruding ears are often a source of anxiety for young children and adult patients. The cartilages of the ear are malformed and the ear creases lack the fine details seen with normal ears. The weak cartilage prevents the ear from properly folding back and causes the appearance of the ears sticking out from the head. This problem may be corrected if discovered before the age of two months non-surgically using a process known as ear molding. Using this technique, various devices and tapes can be used to fold the ear properly and effectly “mold” it into shape over 4-6 weeks. In older children or adults, it can be corrected surgically using simple techniques with the only external scar placed behind the ear where it is not noticeable. The cartilages are folded into the appropriate position and held with permanent sutures. This common procedure is a day surgery and is met with a high degree of patient satisfaction.
Microtia – (Small or Absent Ear)
Malformation of the external ear may require complex reconstruction requiring the use of cartilage from the rib. This reconstruction is usually postponed until a minimum age of eight to allow for growth of the rib cage. A new ear framework is sculpted from the cartilages and buried underneath the skin where the new ear is to be created. Approximately three months later the “new ear” is elevated from underneath the skin and grafted to create the “normal” projection. Prosthethics are also available, however, are prone to fall off and degrade requiring expensive replacements. The cartilage sculpted ear is the preferred “permanent” reconstruction recommended by most plastic surgeons and are more resistant to infections than synthetic ears.
Heavy earrings worn long-term can lead to stretching of the holes and sometimes complete tears of the earlobe. Torn ear lobes can be easily repaired under local anesthesia and the ears can be pierced again after 3-6 months.
Trauma/Cancer - Defects of the ear resulting from trauma or skin cancer may require extensive reconstruction of the cartilage and skin of the external ear. These reconstructions are typically performed in one or two stages.
Macrotia - large ears may also be reduced using techniques involving removal of skin and cartilage. Scars are placed in the shadows of the ear creases to conceal any evidence of surgery.