Deformed ear at birth

This picture depicts a congenitally malformed ear.

This problem could be unilateral or bilateral.Usually hearing is not impaired.If an impairment is suspected,hearing assesment can be done at very early age to provide hearing aids.

The child must be at least seven-years-old to undergo corrective plastic surgery.If the problem is unilateral, normal ear is taken as the template for reconstruction. At the age of seven the other ear would have developed to an adult size. The child may himself be aware of the problem and want it corrected. His peers may be teasing him and this can be stressful.

Plastic surgery will involve several steps and require periodic hospitalization. Cartilage is harvested from the wall of the chest. The ear will be carved in several sections, joined together and buried under the skin.These cartilage pieces get nutrition from the overlying skin.

At the second stage an ear is formed with this cartilage which is already covered with skin. It is very difficult to produce a perfectly shaped ear, however experienced or skilled the surgeon may be.

Children in most developed countries are, therefore, fitted with plastic ears using titanium nuts and sockets. As titanium is a very expensive metal, Third World countries still perform traditional plastic surgery.

Some parents, after hearing what the procedure involves, choose not to subject their child to surgery. Instead, they cover the malformed ear with an appropriate hairstyle. The extra ear lobes in front may be removed with minor surgery.