All the time I get asked the question: What would you do if it was your child? I tell my patients that ear molding is a personal choice. Ear molding offers a way to correct the shape your baby’s ears without really any downsides. There is no surgery involved and therefore no pain or anesthesia needed. There is really no risk to ear molding other then under correction and an occasional ulceration or pressure sore from the molding which is self-limiting.
It is not uncomfortable to wear the ear molds and the babies can sleep on them or feed resting on them. Having done over 1200 ear molding procedures i can tell you that it works and is extremely effective.
How soon should we do it?
The best results are obtained when done early so there is a time sensitivity. If you are considering ear molding for your child then you should do it ideally within the first 3 weeks of life. Many pediatricians will not bring this up unless very severe for concern with how parents will react. Many doctors have told me they often wait until they are asked by patient before mentioning ear molding. Sometimes this may not be until the child is several months old which makes ear molding less effective, although in some case, still possible.
While the choice is personal and having a different ear may “build character”, many parents choose for their children not to have concern over a different shaped ear and therefore choose ear molding. As I tell my patients, “there is no right or wrong answer”. Ear shape does improve immediately after birth (5-7 days) but after that 1st week of life it is unlikely to further improve unless you start ear molding. Little imperfections that we find cute on a baby (like elf ears) may be a source of anxiety in older children.
Ear Molding vs Surgery
The surgery to correct many of these ear deformities is more challenging then ear molding during infancy. The cartilage would need to be restructured with grafts and sutures. Ear molding in infants is also typically covered by insurance unlike the surgery which is considered cosmetic and can cost significantly more. Plus surgery requires a recovery period and can be painful and leave permanent scars. The only downsides to ear molding is that they have to stay on for 4 weeks straight and can not get wet. We do also require shaving an inch of hair around the ear (which looks like a baby mullet). The hair does grow back normally and will not leave any permanent issues. We have never had any parents who completed the course of ear molding regret doing this procedure. We often perform ear molding for their future siblings and cousins. In the end, there is no right or wrong answer but we are here to help you whenever you are ready. Want to see more before and afters? https://earmoldingnj.com/gallery/
by Nicholas Bastidas MD