EarWell® Correction System – Nonsurgical Ear Deformity Correction in Newborns
The Craniofacial Team of Texas provides a nonsurgical correction of mild congenital ear deformities in newborn infants using ear molding with the EarWell® Correction System. There are many types of congenital ear deformities, including hypoplastic (underdeveloped ear), microtia, anotia, ear tags, and ear hemangioma.
Congenital ear deformities or “misshapen ears” affect nearly 1 in 4 children. While every parent anticipates and hopes for the birth of their normal, healthy newborn, sometimes abnormalities are present at birth. Fortunately, modern technology and medical practice provide methods, particularly noninvasive methods, for correction of mild ear deformities.
Infant EarWell® Ear Deformity Correction System
In the past, the standard method of correction was by means of surgical correction when a child reached age 5 or 6. A new technology called the EarWell® Correction System offers noninvasive correction during the newborn period, thereby avoiding the potential need for cosmetic surgery or correctional surgery at an older age. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential to the success in treatment with the EarWell® Correction System, as hormonal changes in the newborn develop by 6 weeks of life and the ear cartilage begins to stiffen.
The ideal treatment starts within the first week of life. The old thought that misshapen or deformed ears will correct on their own as the child grows have been proven incorrect by recent studies. There are psychological benefits of the EarWell® Correction system, like correction of the abnormal ears before a child even understands or realizes the abnormality, avoiding any name calling or bullying until the child reaches an age for surgical correction, and avoiding the anxiety and pain of a surgical procedure at a young age.
What is the EarWell® Correction System?
- Developed by Dr. Steve Byrd, a Dallas plastic surgeon
- Consists of a 4-part plastic mold to gently reshape the cartilage of the ear
- Plastic molds are held in place with adhesive, which lasts about 2 weeks
- The average newborn requires 3 molds (wearing each mold for 2 weeks)
- Total treatment is approximately 6 weeks
- Correction of deformity is usually completed by 2 months of age
- 90% of children using the EarWell® Correction System had beneficial results and correction of the ear deformity
- Must be applied as soon as possible after birth, ideally the 1st week of life, but not beyond 2 weeks of life
Types of Ear Deformities
- Lidding or “Folding over” – The continuation of the antihelical fold (the superior limb of the triangular fossa) fails to form
Failure of the cartilaginous crus that supports the upper third of the ear to form, which results in varying degrees of the ear “folding over” or lidding. Lidding may involve just the helical rim or a complete folding of the upper third of the ear. Early diagnosis of lidding, within the first week of life, generally results in complete correction with the EarWell® Correction System.
- Prominent Ear Deformity – ears that stick out prominently
Easily missed and difficult to diagnose, prominent ears are not easily detected on newborns as they are not always visually apparent.
- Cup Infant Deformity – a severe form of prominent ear
A cup deformity of the ear appears to look like a rosebud that has not bloomed. There is an incomplete opening of the ear or folding out of the ear. The ears appear small and stick out or protrude. Fortunately, the EarWell® System works remarkably well by expanding the helical rim and inner conchal dimensions.
- Stahl’s Infant Ear Deformity – “Spock Ear”
Stahl’s ear is characterized by a transverse crus that extends outward instead of in a gentle bend. The EarWellS® System eliminates the transverse crus to fix the pointed appearance of the “Spock Ear”.
- Conchal Crus Infant Ear Deformity – abnormal cartilage development that makes the ear appear to be divided in two sections
This type of deformity is usually associated with other ear deformities. The EarWell® System specifically corrects this deformity by using the conchal former to apply downward pressure to the conchal crus.
- Cryptotia – ear cartilage appears buried with no visible skin behind the ear
This ear deformity is common in the Asian population. The EarWell® System works to retract the ear out away from the head and also reshaping the cartilage of the ear.
- Constricted Ears of the Infant – A variety of ear deformities where the helical rim is either folded over (also called lop ear), wrinkled, or tight.
The EarWell® System is most successful in correction of ear deformities where there are no missing parts of the ear; however, the EarWell® System has proven beneficial in correcting malformation constricted ears, particularly when compared to an invasive surgical procedure. A type of constricted ear in which the helical rim is folded over (“lop ear”) is effectively and rapidly corrected with ear molding via the EarWell® System.
Other Ear Deformities
- Ear Tags – an accessory or “extra” piece of skin and/or cartilage that is located in front of the ear or on the cheek; may also be known as an accessory tragus or branchial cleft remnant
- Microtia – hypoplastic or underdeveloped external ear
- Anotia – absent or missing ear
- Low Set Ears – ears that are positioned in a depressed position or low on the skull; commonly associated with other medical conditions
- Ear hemangiomas – common benign tumors
If you would like more information about this nonsurgical correction of mild congenital ear deformities in newborn infants, please contact the Craniofacial Team of Texas by calling 512-377-1142 or toll free 877-612-7069 to schedule an appointment or complete an online appointment request.