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Ear Deformities That Call for an Otoplasty


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by Dr. Steven Wallach

Otoplasty is a surgical procedure that changes the ear’s size and shape. At our Manhattan plastic surgery practice, otoplasty or ear surgery is performed by board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Steven Wallach on both children and adults. More often than not, children with ear deformities are teased and become victims of bullying. This prompts parents to request improvement. Here are the most common ear deformities in children and how they can be treated.

Prominent Ears

It is the most common ear abnormality seen in children. It occurs when ears protrude farther from a child’s skull than usual. It can be caused by a large concha, abnormal position of the cartilage, or an antihelical fold that is poorly defined. If diagnosed during the first few days after birth, ear molding can be done to improve it. Molding should be done within the first two weeks of life for it to be successful. If molding cannot be performed, surgery is needed to remove excess ear cartilage, reposition the ear, or recreate the antihelical fold.

Constricted Ear

A constricted ear deformity is usually noted during the first few days of life. It occurs when the ear’s upper portion folds downward or when there is folding or deficiency of the helix. It can be treated with the use of ear molding techniques when identified early on. If it is diagnosed later or if the deformity is severe, surgical correction that involves suturing as well as unfurling the ear cartilage is needed.

Stahl’s Ear Deformity

An extra cartilage fold is seen in the upper ear, making the ear look pointed. Parents and kids are usually not aware of this deformity until the child reaches school age. Molding may be done during the first two weeks after birth. The deformity can also be treated with surgery that involves repositioning, suturing, and excising of the cartilage.

Cryptotia and Microtia

Cryptotia occurs when the upper ear cartilage is covered by the temporal scalp skin. It is treated by releasing the ear cartilage, changing the contour of the cartilage, and covering the cartilage with the use of skin grafts of skin flaps. Microtia refers to small ears. It is a deformity where the ear looks underdeveloped. Males have a higher chance of having microtia compared to females. Ear reconstruction involves multiple stages that require the use of rib cartilage to create the new ear. To learn more about ear deformities and to find out if your child needs otoplasty, schedule an appointment with Dr. Wallach today by calling 212-861-6400. We look forward to hearing from you!

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