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Ear Deformity - Beautopedia

Ear Deformity

This guide provides information about the main types of ear deformity, what they look like and explains the treatment intervention options.

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What is Ear Deformity?

Ear deformity is a condition which can affect the external ear and/or the ear canal. Malformations can occur congenitally (at birth) or as a result of injury. Surgery to correct ear irregularities is prevalent is adults and children alike. There are various types of this condition which depends on the part of the ear affected and the extent of disfigurement. Some ear deformities such as microtia and atresia may cause loss of hearing. Here are some common types:

Lop Ear Deformity

This type of deformity occurs where the tip of the ear folds down and forward. This generally occurs as an isolated problem, with the remainder of the ear often appearing normal. Lop ear occurs where there’s an absence of the antihelical fold (antihelix).  This is the inner strip which runs parallel to the outer fold (known as the helix).  Because the fold is absent, this causes the tip of the ear to protrude outward, away from the head.

Repairing a lop ear requires the surgeon to recreate the antihelix. This is generally undertaken with sutures. Whilst the stitches are permanent, there is a risk of the ear slightly relaxing during the first year following the procedure. However, it’s rare for the ear to return to its preoperative state. Some surgeons undertake lop ear repair by cutting out some antihelical cartilage, however this can eventually cause the edge to become visible and creates an artificial appearance. This is why most surgeons prefer to score cartilage backside instead.

Cup Ear Deformity

This kind of deformity also causes the ear to protrude outward. However unlike lop ears, cup ear deformity is caused by excess cartilage in the conchal bowl (concha).  The concha is the circular indented bowl shaped part of the ear situated adjacent to the ear canal. Cup ears are often associated with a protuberant ear lobule (lower part of the ear). In this case, the facial plastic surgeon will need to reduce the lower third as well; otherwise the lobule will stick out after the top third has been brought closer to the head. Cup ear deformity can also be associated with lop ears.

In order to correct the problem, the excess cartilage in the inner curvature of the concha needs to be removed. This is referred to as a cup ear reduction. The amount removed is approximately 1 to 5 mm. Since the extra cartilage is removed, this technique poses a lower risk of relapse or slackening of the ear. Also, the incision is rarely visible since it’s hidden inside the rim of the concha. Depending on the extent of the cup ear deformity, the surgeon may alternatively attempt to take back the concha with sutures.

Shell Ear Deformity

This occurs where the curve of the outer rim and the natural folds and creases are missing. The surface of the upper ear is therefore flat, without the usual undulations as appears on a normal ear. To repair shell ear, the surgeon must reshape the cartilage in this area. An incision is required on the posterior surface (behind the ear). As to whether the surgeon can restore normal appearance of the ear depends on a number of factors including the degree of deformity, the state of the cartilage and the skin condition of the ear.

Stahl’s Ear Deformity

Also referred to as Spock’s ear or Vulcan ear, this deformity occurs in both ears in around 20% of cases. The upper third of the ear is flattened and stretched posteriorly (toward the back of the head) and superiorly (upward). Usually, this condition does not impair function, however many patients choose to treat Stahl ear for aesthetic purposes. If treatment cannot be done via non-surgical taping and splinting, then surgical intervention is the only alternative.

How Much does Ear Deformity Surgery Cost? Price Information

Price Range: $$ affordable $$$ moderate $$$$ high-priced

Price Indicator:$$$

Cost of Ear Deformity Surgery:$2,000 - $6,000

Average Cost:$3,500

Fees Include: surgeon fees, anesthetic, operating room fees, surgery garments

Cost Variables: The prices vary depending on whether the disfigurement can be treated non-surgically with splints and taping or whether surgery is required. In addition prices can vary significantly by the level of malformation.

Health Insurance:Insurance companies may cover some of the cost.

Medicare/Medicaid:May be covered depending on whether hearing is affected.

Hospital Fee: Can be in addition to the cost.

Facility Fees: Usually included in surgeon’s quote.

Ask the clinic for the total cost including follow up visits and whether any rebates, specials or discounts apply.

How to Find the Best Ear Deformity Doctor/Specialist

Correction of ear deformity is a plastic surgery procedure which requires specialty training and experience. Although any doctor can be a cosmetic surgeon and claim to practice in plastic surgery, invasive surgeries should only be done by a plastic surgeon that is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. To ensure the surgeon is also experienced in cosmetic surgery, find out if they are a member of the ASAPS (American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery). If the surgeon does not have hospital privileges for the procedure, make sure that the surgeon’s facility is accredited, state licensed or certified by Medicare.

Be sure to ask your doctor which procedures they specialize in, where they trained and how many ear deformities they’ve treated. Obtain lots of before and after photos of patients they’ve treated for the same area using this technique.

Even if a doctor has the right credentials, this does not mean they will be good at correcting ear deformity. Apart from researching their formal qualifications and training, try to find customer reviews to see the overall satisfaction rate of your potential doctor. Independent recommendations are invaluable for assessing the best doctor or surgeon who is most experienced in the treatment. Don’t be tempted to opt for the cheapest cost without considering the above factors. A cheap center may not offer the experience you desire. Also, you may wish to consider whether you feel more comfortable with a female or male physician.

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