Prosthetic ears are a great option for Microtia when a surgical option isn’t a good fit for you. A prosthetic ear will put your mind at ease.
Microtia is a congenital condition in which the ear does not develop properly, most commonly Bilateral Microtia, Hemifacial Microsomia, Goldenhar Syndrome and Treacher Collins Syndrome. The word Microtia translates to “small ear”. In the United States roughly 1 in 6000-12,000 children is born with microtia. The decision to try to correct or normalize the look of the affected side(s) with a prosthesis can be life-changing.
The real advantage of an ear prosthesis from us allows for a very realistic appearing ear in which no surgery is required if the adhesive method is used. Only a minor surgery is required if clips or magnets are used for retainment.
When Quality Matters
The beauty of the artistically-created ear prosthesis is that it is not detectable as a prosthetic replacement. The unwitting observer sees it as a natural ear, because it has the same shape as the unaffected ear with the same soft fleshy look, curvilinear anatomical structures and vascular pink tones as the unaffected ear.
Yes, when both the child’s ears are small or absent this is called bilateral microtia or bilateral anotia.
Children may notice their ear difference as early as 2 or 3 years of age. When they are in pre-school or kindergarten they may find other children reacting to them differently and become more aware of their difference.
It is always important for you and family and friends to be there and offer positive support to your child in dealing with the reactions of others, and this also helps your child in dealing with his or her own inner thoughts and feelings about their difference. Rehearsing some responses with your child in a casual matter-of-fact way will help prepare them for the inevitable situations they will encounter at school or at play. For instance your child could say, “My small ear is called microtia but it doesn’t change how I play or anything. I’ll decide later if I want to let doctors try to change the shape, but for now its fine – lets go!”. Microtia is just a small aspect of your wonderful child. Raise your child as you would any other without overdoing attention or focus on this one aspect. This will help them cope with microtia and avoid self-esteem and confidence issues so they can grow up and engage normally.
- No treatment (leave the microtia alone).
- Surgical reconstruction of the ear (child’s own rib cartilage or Medpor implant).
- Ear prosthesis
This becomes a personal choice and often your observation of your child becoming aware of their difference is the time to discuss the options. Much consideration should be given to any decision involving surgery.
One paper discussing the subject is: Surgical Versus Prosthetic Reconstruction of Microtia: The Case for Prosthetic Reconstruction
Challenges of successfully wearing any prosthetic device – including silicone prosthetic ears for children – are relative to the way they are crafted and cared for. Of course, any prosthesis is removable so it requires some care and cleaning. Therefore, the edges of the prosthesis where they blend with the skin may become loose or worn causing them to be more visible. They then may require rebonding with adhesives or refinement of the material. Skin color and the coloration of the prosthesis both change from sun exposure over time so the prosthesis will eventually need retinting or replacement in order to continue to match and blend in.
Many of the challenges of prostheses are so well addressed by dedicated silicone ear prosthesis specialists that prosthesis wear becomes a far superior choice relative to the alternative of accepting the attention of untreated microtia or having complicated surgery attempts to build an ear that never looks normal, let alone one that matches the unaffected side. It is true that any prosthesis no matter how expertly crafted will lose color over time and have margins that may be visible to you. However, planning for retinting or replacement of your child’s prosthesis and realizing that expertly planned margins are rarely detectable by others make the accurate prosthesis the optimal lifetime choice.
Proponents of ear reconstructive surgery will also point out that a disadvantage of the ear prosthesis is that its routine removal and the lack of sensation when touching the prosthesis reminds the patient that its not part of their body. However, like a removable denture or hairpiece all prostheses have functions so valuable they far outweigh going without. So one must weigh the few minutes involved in daily prosthesis attachment and removal against many hours each day feeling uncomfortable hiding a poorly formed or failed surgical reconstruction by wearing a long hair style or just accepting the same looks, stares and questions that arise from living with untreated microtia. An artistically rendered and well maintained ear prosthesis is virtually undetectable. Decades of practice has proven that a relationship develops between prosthetist and patient and the care and passion going into the prosthesis translates to a confidence for the patient of feeling and looking completely balanced, normal and unremarkable throughout their daily life.
As soon as parents have concerns it is advisable to start identifying professionals offering the various treatment options. This way parents can be prepared with options tailored to their child’s specific diagnosis and the professionals who are experts representing the best treatment options. This is important since there are very few talented and focused surgical and prosthetic professionals that truly specialize in the ear. It cannot be overstated how crucial it is to NOT select a surgeon or an ear prosthetist until you have been shown many pictures of patients before and after their respective treatments to demonstrate the experience of the provider and the results they achieve. This is especially true of any surgical intervention because any failed first surgery causes scar tissue to form. This makes it even more difficult if not impossible for a surgeon to go back and repair or improve the look of the reconstructed ear. No one is happy with a surgical reconstruction that does not even look like an ear, or a poorly rendered prosthetic ear that is easily detected. The gold standard is seeing close-up photographic results as evidence of artistry and expertise.
It may be very helpful for the child months before beginning school at age 5 or 6 to have some opportunity to test and wear an ear prosthesis. This way with no surgery no bridges have been burned, and the child can have the opportunity to contribute to the decisions involving his or her ear.
Surgical Versus Prosthetic Reconstruction of Microtia: The Case for Prosthetic Reconstruction
by Gregory G. Gion, BA, BS, MMS, CCA*
The auricular prosthesis and the autogenous reconstruction must ultimately be judged on their ability to free the patient from the stigmatization of their condition. Excellent esthetic results are key in providing patients with the confidence that their correction will go undetected. There are other technical and psychological issues that impact prostheses success in particular, but the wide variability in esthetic quality available historically and around the world today might still be unnecessarily complicating if not biasing the treatment selection process.
THE AESTHETIC EAR PROSTHESIS
This guide is prepared to introduce the option of wearing an aesthetic ear prosthesis within the context of all the options currently available to patients and parents of children with microtia.
A Standard of Excellence
Parents have agonized, and surgeons have struggled about how they can best correct microtia … and Medical Art Prosthetics has been there since 1985 setting the American standard in aesthetic ear prosthetics for children and adults who finally live confident, free, happy and whole to help liberate their children and patients from the weight of living each day with their ear “difference.”
Medical Art Prosthetics has set a standard of excellence in ear prosthetics – and for delivering the most immediate, the most aesthetic and the definitive treatment allowing people to live free of stares and looks from anyone. And that only happens when the prosthesis is virtually undetectable.
Visualize the Difference – Retainment Options
We combine advanced 3-D technology with award-winning artistry. Customizing the prosthesis to meet and match an individual’s style can be achieved.
Naturalism is accomplished by selective surface treatment: leaving sheen on select cartilaginous areas and a matte finish on adjacent helix and lobe to simulate much softer tissue covered by very finevellus hair.
Our Prosthesis Process
Patients and families are understandably conflicted in deciding whether to accept and live with the shape of their surgically constructed ears or to have more normally shaped prosthetic ears. This is because they are told or they assume that their ear cartilage constructs must be completely surgically removed for the installation of osseointegrated implants. It is generally true that the implant-retained type prosthesis would require complete sacrifice of the ear construct.
The surgical removal of the ear would be followed by further thinning of soft tissue in the area and attachment of that skin to the bone periosteum for the installation of osseointegration fixtures and abutments. Although this might ultimately be the best long term prosthetic attachment method for many of our patients, there is for some the option to spare their ear constructions by creating a slip-over type prosthesis that greatly improves the anatomical aesthetics of the ear.
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Your best ear prosthetics options are backed by world-class expertise.
We are very happy with Billy’s new ear. Friends and family couldn’t believe how it matches his right ear perfectly. We see a confidence in Billy that we have never seen before. People do not stare anymore. This means the world to us. Billy says that he is very happy. Thanks for all you have done.
People are amazed at the work you have done, and unless someone knows I had lost my ear they would never be able to tell. Even those that do know I have a prosthetic ear cannot tell which one is real.
Thx Greg- …Very happy I made the trip (from PA)…it was well worth it…no problems with the fit…and the color adjusted perfectly…you do amazing work.