What is ear molding?
Ear molding is a non-surgical procedure used to reshape a baby’s ears when there is an ear deformity present at birth. Ear molding can avoid future corrective ear surgery (otoplasty) if it is started early in life.
How did you get started doing ear molding?
I started ear molding after my first daughter was born over 10 years ago. She had a mild ear deformity on one side. I knew it could be corrected easily with molding, but I didn’t perform it at that time and had none of the supplies needed. Our pediatrician in Connecticut didn’t know of anyone performing ear molding. We called both Children’s Hospitals in the state and neither offered it. So, we ended up bringing her down to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where I did my training, so that my mentor could perform the procedure. She got a great result after 5 weeks of ear molding. I decided I wanted to start offering it in Connecticut, but soon had parents traveling from NYC up to Connecticut for molding. When I realized there are very few plastic surgeons performing this in NYC, I started seeing babies at my Manhattan office to make it more convenient for new parents. I have developed my own techniques and molds to be able to offer it to older babies (up to 3-4 months old) and babies with more complex deformities.
At what age should ear molding be started in babies?
Ideally, ear molding should begin within the first few weeks of life. A newborns cartilage is still soft and pliable from the estrogen that is still in the baby from the mother. The estrogen levels start to drop by 5-6 weeks old, so molding should be started before the ear cartilage starts to harden and then continued as it hardens in the new improved shape. The earlier the procedure is started, the better the results and the shorter the treatment period.
What is the oldest age you will offer ear molding?
I have performed ear molding up to 3-4 months of age for certain deformities. I inform parents that I can usually still obtain an improvement, but I may not be able to obtain full correction or symmetry. Parents of babies with ear deformities in Bergen County, NJ, should reach out to our office early after birth for potential ear molding.
What types of ear deformities can be treated with ear molding?
Ear molding is performed to correct misshapen or prominent baby ears. Some examples include the following:
Prominent Ears: These are baby ears that stick out too far from the sides of the head, which occurs due to poor formation of a fold that holds the ears back. Ear molding can establish a well-defined fold which brings the ears closer to the scalp.
Folded or Pointed Ears: These are baby ears where the top of the ear folds over or is pointed. Ear molding can unfold or round out any pointed part of the outer ear cartilage.
Constricted Ears: These are newborn ears where the outer rim of cartilage is constricted and tight, leading to an ear that looks squished and smaller, but can also stick out more. Ear molding can gently stretch this cartilage and pull the ear back into a more normal position.
Uneven Baby Ears: Sometimes it is hard for a parent to describe what the actual ear deformity is or there are a few deformities present in one ear. Any asymmetries can usually be corrected with ear molding.
How is ear molding performed? Do you offer EarWell ear molding for newborns in Bergen County, NJ?
Ear molding is performed by creating a customized mold, either with the EarWell device, or by making one out of soft silicone gel. The mold holds the ear in the correct shape and gently stretches the cartilage until it hardens. I use the EarWell device on certain deformities, but I usually make my own customized molds, which fit babies’ ears better especially as they grow.
Is ear molding painful for the baby?
No, the process of putting the mold on the baby is painless and it does not cause any discomfort once in place. Usually the baby is sleeping, feeding from a bottle, or using a pacifier as the ear molding is being performed. The soft, custom-made splints do not cause excessive pressure. Most babies completely ignore the ear molds and don’t even notice they are there. Babies can still roll on their sides and be placed in car seats. Parents can still use hats and headbands as they normally would. The ear molds don’t affect breastfeeding either. The molds don’t cover the ear canal, so they don’t affect hearing development.
How long does the ear molding process take?
The length of ear molding varies depending on the type of the deformity, the severity of the deformity, and at what age molding is started. In most cases, it takes 4-6 weeks to obtain the necessary correction. Adjustments are made to the ear mold every 1-2 weeks to check on progress and clean the ear.
Is ear molding effective?
Yes, ear molding is highly effective with success rates almost 100% when started in the first few weeks after birth.
What should parents in Bergen County, NJ, know about any potential risks with ear molding?
Ear molding is very safe as it is non-surgical and uses medical grade soft silicone parts and adhesive. Occasionally, there can be mild side effects, such as skin irritation or redness underneath the tape or the mold. These side effects are always temporary and resolve on their own.
How many ear moldings do you perform a year?
I perform about 100 ear moldings a year. Over the last few years, there has been an increase in pediatrician and parent awareness of this great option for non-surgical correction of newborn ear deformities.
Are there many specialists for ear molding in Bergen County, NJ?
There are very few plastic surgeons or pediatric ENTs that perform ear molding. Not many surgeons are trained in the techniques to become comfortable performing ear molding in a safe and effective manner. When choosing a provider, you want to look for someone with many before and after photos, showing their expertise correcting a wide variety of ear deformities.
Is ear molding covered by insurance?
Most insurance companies cover ear molding as they consider it medically necessary to correct a congenital ear deformity. We obtain authorization and check benefits before the first appointment.
How do parents in Bergen County learn more about ear molding or contact your office?
Parents can call our office directly at (917) 708-0018 or visit our website for more information: