The EarWell Infant Ear Correction System
Infant Ear Deformities
Anywhere from 15-30% of infants are born with an external ear deformity of either one or both of their ears, only one third of which will self-correct over time. These deformities include prominent ears, ears in which the upper part has folded downwards, cup shaped ears, pointed “Mr. Spock” ears, flattened or unfolded ears, and ears with distorted or crumpled looking rims.
Previously, the majority of infants whose deformities did not improve spontaneously retained their abnormally shaped ears for the rest of their lives unless they were surgically corrected. During childhood, because of their visible ear deformities, many suffered ridicule and abuse at the hands of their contemporaries with adverse psychological consequences.
Fortunately, now there is a simple, safe, painless non-surgical treatment, one that gently molds the infant ear, successfully correcting the deformities over a period of about 6 weeks: the EarWell.
What is the EarWell?
Designed by Texas plastic surgeon, Dr. Steven Byrd, the EarWell is a soft silicone device consisting of a two-piece cradle system that is slipped over the external ear and is attached to the skin surrounding the ear by its adhesive backing. Internal retractors strategically placed inside the cradle of the EarWell apply gentle reshaping pressure on the ear over time. The adhesive lasts up to two weeks after which it is removed and a new cradle is applied. For the best results, usually three applications are necessary for a total treatment time of about 6 weeks.
When applied within the appropriate time window, this safe and comfortable ear molding system has shown to be 90% successful in correcting ear deformities.
When Should the EarWell Treatment be Started?
Time is of the essence: the sooner the EarWell device is applied after the first week of life, the better the chances are of success. Newborns have circulating maternal estrogen that increases hyaluronic acid, an important constituent of ear cartilage. It is this increased hyaluronic acid that makes the ear more malleable. By six weeks of age, the estrogen has decreased to the point where the ears become stiffer and are less able to be reshaped. For the best results, treatment should be started prior to three weeks of age.
What is an EarWell Treatment Like? Is there any Specific Prior Preparation? How Long Does it Take? Is There any Discomfort?
We ask the parents to feed their baby and change their diapers just prior to the treatment. After swaddling the infant in a baby blanket, we very gently and carefully trim the hair around the ear and slip the cradle over it, securing the cradle to the surrounding skin by means of its adhesive backing. We then place the internal retractors inside the cradle to shape the ear and finally, attach the cradle cover to hold everything in place. The procedure is entirely painless and usually takes less than 15 minutes.
After 10-14 days, the existing cradle is removed and a new one is applied. Usually three treatments are required for maximal improvement.
Are There Any Complications to the EarWell?
The EarWell Infant Correction System is extremely safe and complication free. The devices are well tolerated and very comfortable. Occasionally, small pressure sores can occur from the internal retractors. Leaving the device off for a day or two allowing them to heal on their own is all that is necessary.
Is the EarWell Treatment Covered by Health Insurance?
Usually it is. Since success with the EarWell is dependent on starting treatment as early as possible, it is best to check with your insurance company as soon as you consider the EarWell, prior to coming in for the first visit. Our office can help you with the necessary information to give to your health insurance carrier.
What are the options to the EarWell for Infant Ear Deformities?
There are two options to the EarWell: to do nothing or to entertain surgical correction when the ears have matured appropriately (usually by age 5-7).
For Additional EarWell Information, Videos, & Parent Brochures visit www.earwells.com
If you are interested in this procedure, please fill in the form below.