In May 2016 My first precious little son was born. He was perfect and adorable of course. But he had been stuck breech with his head under my ribs and when he came out, via C-Section, his head was pretty squished and one ear was folded down and flat. Meaning, where there should be some folds in the ear, it was more like Mickey Mouse. In the first couple of days it stopped bending down but it stood out further from his head than his other ear and was flat. When we went to his first pediatrician appointment at about a week old, the pediatrician I had selected purely based on the rave reviews of the hospital nurses mentioned to me that there is something they can do to fix the ear.
I am so so so super grateful to have chosen this pediatrician for a ton of reasons, but knowing about infant ear molding and pointing me to Dr. Jandali is a huge one of them. We were able to get into see Dr. Jandali right away, which is very important as time is of the essence for infant ear molding. Dr. Jandali is a plastic surgeon. I believe you may find this service at other types of doctors. You can search for a physician here: https://www.earwells.com/physician-locator/?cn-cat=40&cn-zipcode=&cn-radius=5.1&cn-latitude=&cn-longitude=&cn-near-coord=&cn-unit=mi&cn-s=&cn-country=
Overall it was a super easy, pain free process. Dr. Jandali shaved off a little of his hair then put little shapers on my son’s ear. We went back every couple of weeks and the doctor monitored the progress and made adjustments. We had to keep it dry and at one point it did come loose. The doc had said that could happen and to just add some tape and call the office.
He wore a shaper device for about 8 weeks. By then the cartilage had hardened and the new ear shape was set. It was beautiful. So easy.
I knew at the time it was the right thing to do. I didn’t want him bullied or made fun of for a funny ear and I didn’t want him to go through any sort of surgery for something as silly as an abnormal ear. I was initially worried about cost but Dr. Jandali took my insurance and they covered it no questions asked.
I recently reached out to Dr. Jandali to ask him for a Q&A for the blog. I want to help spread the word as it seems most people don’t know this option exists. If you are in the New York, Connecticut or Massachusetts area, I highly recommend him. He made us feel very comfortable and confident with the process. The office staff is lovely and they handled the insurance approval all before I ever got there.
Our Q&A is below:
Can you describe the process of infant ear molding?
Newborn ear molding is a proven, 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 early in life because the ear cartilage is still soft and pliable. Complete correction can be obtained in almost all cases when molding is started early enough.
To actually perform the molding, a small area of hair on the scalp around the ear is trimmed. The area is then cleaned and the mold is customized and placed to correct the prominent ear or the ear deformity. Depending on what age we start the ear molding process, as well as the severity of the prominence or deformity, we usually mold for 4 to 6 weeks. The adhesive on the mold usually lasts about 2 weeks, so it does need to be replaced once or twice with a visit to the office.
When is it too late to start infant ear molding?
Ear molding is ideally performed in the first 3 weeks after birth, while the cartilage is still soft. However, we have been successful molding ears up to 3-4 months old. The cartilage is firmer at this older age, and the molds often have to be in place for 6 weeks or longer. We can’t guarantee full correction at older ages, but we often obtain significant improvement and avoid the need for future corrective ear surgery.
Does the baby feel any pain or discomfort during the process?
Infant ear molding is not painful to apply or to keep on. It is completely non-surgical and applies gentle pressure to reshape the ear. A medical grade adhesive is used to keep the soft silicone mold in place. Most babies completely ignore it once it is in place. In addition, it doesn’t affect hearing development or the ability to breastfeed the baby. Babies can still sleep on their side and it doesn’t bother them.
Does insurance generally cover it?
The vast majority of insurances will cover infant ear molding for prominent or deformed ears, since it is considered reconstructive and non-cosmetic. We will work with all insurances to get approval. We obtain approval before the first office visit, so that molding can be applied as soon as possible at the first visit.
What are the alternatives to molding?
Ear molding is the best non-surgical way to correct prominent or deformed ears. We caution parents from attempting to just tape the ears back, create a makeshift mold themselves, or find an ear mold online. None of these are customized to the size of the ear and the particular deformity. They can distort the ear in the wrong direction, cause too much pressure, or cause irritation and infection.
If ear molding is not performed in time and the cartilage hardens, then ear pinning surgery (otoplasty) can be performed when a child is about 5-6 years old. Otoplasty involves scraping the hard cartilage to weaken it and then applying permanent sutures to reshape it.
The goal with ear molding is to avoid surgery, which has added risks, downtime, recovery, and out of pocket cost.
You can find Dr. Jandali here https://www.jandaliplasticsurgery.com/reconstructive-procedures/infantearmolding
Also For Mass and NYC:
Before and after pictures are here: https://www.jandaliplasticsurgery.com/photogallery/ear-molding-17621