Dr. Shareef Jandali is a board-certified plastic surgeon practicing in Connecticut and New York. He completed his plastic surgery residency training at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He has been in practice for over 12 years and specializes in ear molding for newborn ear deformities.
What is ear molding?
Ear molding is a non-surgical procedure to reshape a newborn’s ear when an ear deformity is present at birth. It can avoid future surgery (otoplasty) if it is started early in life.
How did you get started?
I started ear molding after my first daughter was born ten years ago. She had a mild ear deformity, and I knew it could be corrected easily with molding, but I didn’t perform it at that time and had none of the supplies. Our pediatrician didn’t know of anyone doing it in Connecticut.
We called both Children’s Hospitals in the state, and neither offered it. So, we brought her down to Philadelphia, where I trained at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia so that my previous mentor could perform the procedure. Her ear was fully corrected with five weeks of molding. I decided I wanted to start offering it in Connecticut.
I got all the necessary supplies and started letting the pediatrician offices know it was an option for newborns. I have since developed my own techniques and molds for older babies (up to 4 months old) and babies with more severe deformities.
At what age should ear molding be started in newborns?
Ideally, ear molding should begin within the first few weeks of life. This is when a baby’s cartilage is still soft and pliable from the estrogen that is still in the baby from the mother. The estrogen levels start to drop by 5-6 weeks old, so molding should be started before the ear cartilage begins to harden and then continued as it hardens in the new, improved shape. The earlier the treatment starts, the shorter the treatment period and the better the results.
What is the oldest age you will offer ear molding?
I have performed ear molding up to 4 months of age for certain deformities. I tell parents that I can usually still obtain an improvement, but I may not be able to obtain full correction or symmetry. It also depends on how active the baby is at this age; the more they move around, the harder it is to keep the mold attached.
What types of ear deformities can be treated?
Ear molding is primarily used to correct misshapen or prominent baby ears; some examples include:
Prominent Ears: These are newborn ears that stick out more than usual due to the poor formation of a fold that holds the ears back. Ear molding can establish a well-defined fold, which brings the ears closer to the scalp.
Constricted Ears: These are infant ears where the outer rim of cartilage is constricted and tight, leading to a smaller ear that sticks out more. Ear molding can stretch this cartilage and put the ear in a more normal position.
How is ear molding performed, and do you use the EarWell device?
Ear molding is performed by creating a customized mold using the EarWell device or by making one out of soft silicone. This holds the ear in the correct shape and gently stretches the cartilage until it hardens. I use the EarWell device on certain deformities but usually make my own customized mold, which has given me more freedom to treat more complex deformities and older babies.
Is ear molding painful for the baby?
No, ear molding is a painless and non-invasive procedure. In addition, the process of putting the mold on the baby is also painless. Usually, the baby is sleeping, feeding from a bottle, or using a pacifier as the ear molding is performed. The soft, custom-made molds or splints do not cause excessive pressure. The babies completely ignore the ear molds once they are in place. Babies can still roll on their sides, and it won’t cause any discomfort. Parents can still put on hats and use headbands. It doesn’t affect breastfeeding either. The molds don’t block the ear canal, so they don’t affect hearing development.
How long does the ear molding process take?
The duration of ear molding treatment varies depending on the type of deformity, the severity of the deformity, and at what age molding is started. In most cases, it ranges from 4-6 weeks. Adjustments are made to the mold every 1-2 weeks to check on progress and clean the ear.
Is ear molding effective?
Yes, ear molding is highly effective, with success rates of almost 100% when started in the first three weeks after birth.
What should parents in Fairfield County know about any potential risks with ear molding?
Ear molding is generally safe as it is non-surgical and uses medical-grade soft silicone parts and adhesive. There can be mild side effects, such as skin irritation or redness at the contact points of the molds. These side effects are always temporary and resolve on their own.
How many ear moldings do you perform a year?
I perform about 100 ear moldings a year. Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in pediatrician and parent awareness of this great option for non-surgical correction of newborn ear deformities.
Are there many specialists for ear molding in Connecticut?
There are very few plastic surgeons or pediatric ENTs that perform ear molding. Not many surgeons are exposed to the techniques in their residency training. It takes time and experience to become comfortable performing ear molding safely and effectively.
Does insurance cover ear molding?
Most insurance companies completely cover ear molding as they consider it medically necessary to correct a congenital ear deformity.
How do parents learn more about ear molding or contact your office?
Parents can call our office at 203-374-0310 or visit our website for more information: https://ear-molding.com/.