What is ear molding?
Ear molding is a simple, nonsurgical way to correct a baby’s abnormally shaped, folded or prominent ears, assuming they have the right amounts of skin and cartilage. These deformities are easily corrected if diagnosed early in infancy, optimally at 2 or 3 weeks old. This is because newborns and infants have soft, pliable cartilage in their ears that can be reshaped using gentle pressure. Ear molding applies a constant re-directive force to the cartilage to bend back, unfurl and improve the ear’s position and structure.
At Cohen Children’s, we use the latest ear molding techniques, especially the EarWell Infant Ear Correction System, to achieve highly successful results.
What to expect
At the initial consultation, we will go over your baby’s history and do a physical exam. We can then apply the EarWell device using the following steps, all of which are painless:
- Shave a small area of hair around the ear.
- Clean the skin and apply the device, which has a built-in adhesive that sticks to the skin.
- Place the ear in the desired position and shape, using a soft silicone retainer and conchal conformer.
- Apply the protective cover and possibly more tape to prevent the device from falling off.
Your baby can go home with you after application of the device. It is made of soft, rubbery silicone and is not painful or uncomfortable to wear (most babies don’t even realize it’s on). The device allows your baby to hear normally.
One complication of ear molding is the need for future operations (but 90 percent of all ear deformities can be completely corrected via ear molding).
Follow-up exams are performed every two weeks, and molding is continued until the desired results are achieved. The time frame can differ depending on the patient’s needs, and the age the process was started. If done when your child is less than 2 weeks old, the process only takes about two to three weeks. Sometimes we will continue the process with only double-sided tape to fine-tune our results.
Frequently asked questions
Will my baby’s ears get better on their own?
Most ear deformities (70 percent) will not improve without intervention. We suggest waiting five to seven days after birth to see if your child’s ear shape improves before intervening with ear molding.
Is this covered by my insurance?
Most insurance companies will cover the procedure. Please check with your provider for details.
Can I wait to treat my child’s ears once they are older?
You cannot use ear molding techniques past infancy. However, you can use traditional techniques, such as otoplasty, in children age 5 or older. This involves an operation where the cartilage can be restructured using permanent sutures.