Child Ear Moulding – a safe, painless alternative to ear surgery
From bullying to compromised self-confidence, children with deformed ears are at risk of a wide range of social and psychological issues that can potentially lead to low self-esteem. Peer ridicule and low performance are possible challenges faced by school-goers with congenital ear deformities.
While ear surgery is an option, it is costly and eligible children are typically five or six years old, which means they have since entered a schooling environment and their ear defect may leave them vulnerable to being antagonised by classmates. Parents can now avert these dangers through a revolutionary and painless non-surgical procedure called ‘ear moulding’. Above and beyond negating surgical trauma and costly medical fees, ear moulding is available to new-born children.
“Ear moulding is something I am very excited about because it offers a non-surgical alternative,” says Dr Clare Neser, a Cape Town-based plastic and reconstructive surgeon who offers ear moulding as a corrective treatment. The procedure involves an ear-shaped silicone mould that is applied to each ear and helps to correct the abnormality through a non-invasive procedure. This eradicates the financial incumbent of ear surgery that could cost over R50 000 and is rarely covered by medical aid.
The treatment is most effective early after birth because at this stage of a baby’s life the ear cartilage is still soft and malleable, meaning growth is receptive to ear moulding. The longer the wait, the less effective the procedure may be when correcting congenital ear deformities. “Ear moulding is only half as successful in older children,” says Dr Neser.
A study on ear moulding from Weill Cornell Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian treated 100 infants using the procedure, with a success rate of 96%. The treatment takes four to six weeks, according to Dr Neser, though in some cases, treatment was concluded after as little as two weeks.
Minor ear deformities include abnormal shapes, abnormal folds or positions and at worst a combination of all deformities. Dr Neser comments that only 30% of all ear deformities self-correct and that ear deformities which do not self-correct, may be treated with ear-moulding. Each mould takes only 15 minutes to apply and is replaced weekly for four to six weeks.
Dr Clare Neser is a Cape Town-based plastic and reconstructive surgeon who specialises in facial, non-surgical, reconstructive, breast and body procedures. She holds an MBChB (University of Cape Town), an FCS (SA) Plast (College of Plastic Surgeons of South Africa) and a Master of Medicine in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (Stellenbosch University).