Relatively new treatment helps babies with deformed ears

Almost 30 percent of babies are born with some sort of ear deformity. And until recently, surgery or doing nothing at all were the only options.

AUSTIN - Nearly 30 percent of babies are born with ear deformities, including babies like 4-month-old, Isabella Hartman, who once had constricted ears.

"I actually noticed that both of her ears on the top were pinched and I wasn't really sure what was going on but I know it didn't look like anybody else's ears in the family," said her mother, Amanda Hartman.

So when Isabella was just was 2-weeks-old, her mom brought her to see Dr. Jeffrey Cone. He's a pediatric cranial facial surgeon.

"Constricted is actually where the total length from here to all the way around to the top, from the rim of the ear, is collapsed in, and so her ears at birth looked very similar to that," said Dr. Cone.

Dr. Cone used what he calls the only comprehensive ear mold system out on the market: an Earwell.

Using the silicone ear mold, he created space between Isabella's ear rims.

But there's a catch.

This procedure must be done right after the baby is born. When the baby is one to two weeks old. That's when the success rate is 90 percent. At three weeks old, the success rate drops to 50 percent.

"After the baby is born, they have a malleable cartilage and so it doesn't know, it doesn't have memory of its shape. It will gain memory quickly in the first few weeks of life," Dr. Cone said.

Adhesive keeps the molds on the babies' ears, typically for four to six weeks. Changing out molds about three times.

Another major advantage of getting the procedure done early is insurance coverage.

"It takes a pretty extreme shape to an ear to get it covered by insurance," said Dr. Cone.

He added that it's difficult for five and 6-year-olds with ear deformities to get insurance coverage. 

The FDA approved the Earwell in 2014.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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