Frequently Asked Questions
The shape of the helix of the ear is a complicated shape and babies are commonly born with mildly abnormal ears. Some of the ears stick out, fold over, whilst others may be bent too far forward or there may be abnormal creases. The outer ear begins to develop during the first 3 months of pregnancy and continues to grow with the child. There are many factors that can affect the shape of the ear, including uterine position, genetics and exposure of the child in-utero to medications.
Depending on the severity of the deformity, different treatments can be suggested at different ages. Many parents are unware that early splinting of the ears can help to correct mild deformities which can avoid the need for surgery at a later age. Many surgeons recommend waiting until the child is at least 5 years old before surgery is done. This is only applicable for more severe deformities that cannot be treated with splinting. Speak to our plastic surgeon today to find out more about what can be done for your child.
Ear splinting is a non-surgical method of treating abnormally shaped ears. This is most effective if it’s done during the early part of a child’s life. A soft wire frame is used to mold the ear into a more normal shape and this is secured with tape. By maintaining the ear in this new shape for a few weeks to months, we will be able to reshape the ear, and hence avoid a need for surgery in the future.
Ear Splinting is a pain-free procedure that takes 10-20 minutes to apply. It is cost-effective and allows correction of the problem before the child is even aware of it. Once the correction is done, it is permament. This will avoid any future psychological impact of stick-out ears. Most importantly, there is no need for any surgery or complications from surgery any anaesthesia.
During Ear Splinting, adhesive tapes are applied and these tapes can irritate the skin. The splint is removed every 3-4 days to clean the skin and reduce discomfort. Keeping the tapes and splint dry as well as the child in a cool environment will help to prevent rashes and skin irritation. As there is no surgery involved, the main risk is that the splint does not fully correct the deformity.
The length of time required for the splint to correct the deformity depends on the age that you bring the child as well as the deformity. The earlier the appointment is made, the shorter the duration of splinting required. Babies have been splinted since the first week after birth. These splints are worn at all time, 24 hours a day. The splints are removed for cleaning periodically during the week. It usually takes a few weeks to months to correct the deformity. Schedule a consultation with us at the clinic or at your delivery suite and we will advise you on how to proceed. We will create a splint and show you how to apply it. We will review the child every week to ensure that skin is kept healthy and to follow-up on the splintage, until no more splinting is needed.