Questions & Answers on Ear Molding
These are some of the most frequently asked questions by parents when they call to learn more about ear molding for newborn ear deformities. Many questions also come up during the ear molding process.
Will my baby grow into his/her ears if they have protruding ears or another ear deformity?
Will my baby’s ears get better on their own?
Two large studies from Texas and Canada show that 2/3 of all deformities or protruding ears will remain the same or worsen with time. About 1/3 of deformities will improve in the first week after birth when they are mild. We therefore have parents and pediatricians wait until after the baby is a week old to see if the ears correct on their own. After about 7-10 days old, whatever shape the ears have is what they will continue to be, unless they are molded into an improved shape.
When does baby ear cartilage harden?
Baby ear cartilage starts to harden at about 6-7 weeks of age. In babies born prematurely, the cartilage stays softer for longer. Therefore, we want to start ear molding before the cartilage hardens, preferably in the first 3 weeks after birth.
How does ear molding reshape a baby’s ears?
Ear molding puts gentle pressure on the cartilage of the ear while it is still soft. The cartilage bends into the correct shape over a few weeks with the mold in place. The mold is then kept in place when the ear cartilage starts to harden to make sure it hardens into the right shape.
Can I tape my baby’s ears back?
Ear tape for protruding ears or other ear deformities is not as effective as ear molding. Tape can also put pressure on the outer rim of the ear, unfolding it and possibly causing further harm. In addition, tape cannot mold and fix complex deformities which need to be completely reshaped.
Are baby ear splints the same as custom ear molding?
No. Ear splints, like EarBuddies™, are usually pre-made and one size fits all. They can be cumbersome to keep in the correct position and the tape can pull or distort the ear. They are inadequate for severely protruding ears or more complex ear deformities.
How is ear molding performed?
A small area of hair on the scalp around the ear is trimmed. The area is then cleaned and the mold is customized and placed to correct the prominent ear or the ear deformity. The mold either has its own adhesive or tape is applied to secure it into place.
Can ear molding affect my baby’s hearing?
Is infant ear molding painful?
Infant ear molding is not painful to apply or to keep on. It is completely non-surgical and applies gentle pressure to reshape the ear. A medical grade adhesive is used to keep the soft silicone mold in place. Most babies completely ignore it once it is in place.
Can I get the ear mold wet?
Does it affect baths?
No. Due to the adhesive that is holding the mold in place, the area around the mold cannot get wet. The baby can still be bathed and the top of the head can be washed, but carefully placing cloths over the molds so that they don’t get wet.
Does the ear mold affect nursing?
The ear mold should not affect nursing at all. We do recommend placing a clean cloth over the area to prevent milk or formula from dripping or being spit up into/onto the mold.
How long are the ear molds in place?
Depending on what age we start the ear molding process, as well as the severity of the prominence or deformity, we usually mold for 4 to 6 weeks. The adhesive on the molds usually lasts about 2 weeks, so it does need to be replaced once or twice with a visit to the office.
What is the oldest age that ear molding can be performed?
While ear molding is ideally performed in the first 3 weeks after birth, we have been successful molding ears up to 3-4 months old. The cartilage is firmer at this older age, and the molds often have to be in place for 6 weeks or longer. We can’t guarantee full correction at older ages, but we often obtain significant improvement and avoid the need for future corrective ear surgery.
Where is ear molding performed?
Ear molding is performed at our office in East Longmeadow, MA. We perform ear molding on patients with ear deformities from Springfield, Westfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, Northampton, Amherst, Pittsfield, Greenfield, Worcester, Leominster, and Boston. If you are traveling from a distance, we will accommodate your schedule to allow an easy commute with minimal traffic.
What needs to be done before our ear molding appointment?
Do we need to bring anything for ear molding?
Please bring a pacifier and a swaddle blanket to the appointment. Please feed, burp, and change your baby’s diaper before the appointment. This makes the babies as comfortable as can be, and they often fall asleep for the entire procedure!
What happens if the ear mold falls off?
We teach parents how to strategically tape the edges of the ear mold when they start to get loose. We can always be reached if there is any issue and once it starts to loosen or detach, we will have you return to our office to have a new mold placed. If the mold is off for a short time, this will not affect the end outcome or extend the molding time needed.
Does insurance cover infant ear molding?
The vast majority of insurances will cover infant ear molding for newborn ear deformities, since it is considered reconstructive and non-cosmetic. Dr. Jandali will work with all insurances to get approval and will guide you in how to appeal the insurance company if coverage is denied. We obtain approval before your first visit, so that molding can be applied at the first visit.
Is ear pinning surgery an option?
Yes, if ear molding is not performed in time, and the cartilage hardens, then ear pinning surgery (otoplasty) can be performed when your child is about 5-6 years old. Otoplasty involves scraping the hard cartilage to weaken it and then applying permanent sutures to reshape it.
The goal with ear molding is to avoid future surgery, which has added risks, downtime, recovery, and cost.
Ear molding is covered by insurance during infancy, as it is considered a deformity at that time.
However, otoplasty is considered cosmetic and is an out of pocket cost (not covered by insurance) when your child is older.