EarWell or Otoplasty? Which is Right for My Child?

By Dr. Christopher Cote and Dr. Nicolette Picerno on November 24, 2021 under EarWell

EarWell or Otoplasty? Which is Right for My Child?

As a parent, you are constantly concerned about the health, safety, and wellbeing of your child or children at all times. And this concern is never more intense than after giving birth, especially when things aren’t perfectly normal. You’ll notice every aspect of your newborn’s features, including their little ears, and wonder if they’ll grow into their beautiful face with natural-looking proportions. However, when things look different than you expected, it can bring anxiety and worry into what should be a purely joyful time. Fortunately, if you’re concerned about the look of your child’s ears, you have multiple options to restore a natural appearance at different ages.

What is Otoplasty?

Otoplasty is the medical term for ear surgery, sometimes called an “ear pinning” procedure. It is a minor surgery that, when being performed on a child, is done under general anesthesia, but that can also be performed on adults with twilight sedation for easier recovery.

Otoplasty can reshape any size or type of ear, although it’s most commonly used to reduce protruding ears that lead to teasing and self-consciousness in children. The procedure removes excess cartilage and redistributes tissue in the ear to bring it closer to the head, reduce the overall size, or adjust its shape in a number of different ways. After otoplasty, patients have a more harmonized appearance with their facial features that can increase their self-confidence and eliminate the cause of teasing in children and young adults.

What is EarWell?

EarWell is an ear re-shaping system that was specially designed for infants younger than six weeks old who have visibly deformed ears and who have not been diagnosed with an ear disorder such as microtia (under-developed ears). It is a non-invasive, safe and effective treatment plan that gently pulls developing ear tissue into a more natural-looking shape and size.

Babies’ ears grow quickly, and if there is any sign of misshapen ears, it needs to be addressed quickly, ideally around three weeks after birth. Oftentimes pediatricians notice abnormalities in the ear shape, and parents tend to be highly attuned to the proportions of their newborn. EarWell can address these concerns in an unobtrusive way through regular visits with our facial surgeons.

EarWell vs. Ear Surgery

The main difference between EarWell and surgical ear re-shaping is the age at which the procedures can be performed. EarWell works best in a narrow window shortly after birth, within the first two months of a baby’s life. After this window passes, misshapen or overly large ears cannot be addressed with surgical or non-surgical procedures until they have fully developed, which usually takes around five to six years. At any age after this point, otoplasty procedures can be performed to achieve a more pleasing ear shape and size.

The other major difference is the method of ear re-shaping. EarWell works by physically holding the ear in different positions with the use of a plastic cradle and small rubber retractors that are adjusted once a week for six weeks.

Ear Shaping Procedures for Infants and Children

The good news for parents who are worried about the shape or size of their infant or young child is there is a solution out there to achieve a more natural-looking and proportionate appearance to the ear. With either EarWell or ear surgery, our facial surgical experts, Dr. Cote and Dr. Picerno, can re-shape and mold ears at almost any age. To learn more and discover how these ear shaping procedures can have a positive influence in your child’s life, schedule a consultation at FacesFirst by calling our office or contacting us online today.