Learn about the ear shape program at Children’s Minnesota

The ear shape program at Children’s Minnesota diagnoses and treats all medical, functional and cosmetic issues related to the structure of the ear. Learn more about our multidisciplinary team including otolaryngologists, audiologists, craniofacial specialists and pediatric facial plastic surgeons — all ready and specially trained to treat your little one.

What is an ear shape anomaly?

An ear shape anomaly is abnormal development of the ear. Ear deformities or an anomaly may be present at birth or acquired from an injury or illness. They can cause cosmetic issues as well as hearing problems. Some ear deformities may resolve on their own as the child grow, others require medical intervention. However, it’s not always clear which will deformities correct themselves and which will not.

How are ear shape anomalies detected?

Pediatricians or family practice physicians who are performing physicals on a newborn shortly after birth play a critical role in detecting these issues. Having a child evaluated as early as possible can lead to better outcomes and may prevent the need for surgery later on. In fact, infants who are candidates for nonsurgical intervention should ideally begin treatment within their first few weeks of life.

Conditions we treat in the ear shape program

  • Anotia: Ear is completely missing.
  • Atresia: Ear canal has developed abnormally.
  • Constricted ear: Top rim of the ear (helix) is folded down, wrinkled, pulled too tight or is too small.
  • Cryptotia: The upper ear looks to be buried beneath the skin on the side of the head.
  • Ear hemangiomas: These are benign tumors that can occur on the external ear.
  • Earlobe deformities: These include clefts, duplicate earlobes, large creases or wrinkles and skin tags.
  • Microtia: Outside ear (pinna) is small and malformed.
  • Protruding/prominent ears: One or both ears stick out more than two centimeters from the sides of the head.
  • Shell ear: Curve in the outer rim (helix) as well as the natural folds and creases of the ear are missing.
  • Stahl’s ear: Ears look pointed because of an extra cartilage fold.
  • Traumatic ear deformities: These result from injury, such as dog bite, laceration or traumatic blow to the ear.

Ear shape program treatments

If you have a concern about your child’s ear, Children’s Minnesota is the place to go. Our pediatric-focused multidisciplinary team works together to evaluate ear issues. We provide seamless care and coordinated visits to thoroughly address all concerns.

We provide comprehensive nonsurgical and surgical ear shape treatments, including:

  • Ear molding: Ear molding is a nonsurgical method of correcting mild ear deformities that are present at birth. Ideally, this intervention begins within the first three weeks after a child is born, but studies have shown that molding can also be effective when started as late as six weeks after birth. Ear molding can often eliminate the need for surgery or reduce the severity of surgery needed to address the ear condition when the child is older.
  • Cosmetic otoplasty: This is a common procedure used to reposition the ears to give a more typical appearance. It’s performed by making an incision behind the ear and then removing or folding the ear cartilage.
  • Surgery: If nonsurgical options are not enough, children may undergo surgery to give their ears a more natural appearance. Surgical procedures are usually delayed until the child is 3 years or older. The most common ear reconstruction procedures are performed using the patient’s own rib cartilage, using an implant, or in more rare instances, using a prosthetic implant.

Patient families

Please call the number below for information on scheduling an appointment. The nurse will advise you of next steps and possible locations for care. They may need photos prior to service. Typically, children are referred to our ear shape program by a health professional. However, parents can contact us to schedule a consultation.

Referring providers

Our triage nurses may need medical history and photos prior to scheduling an appointment. Please view our referral guidelines for health professionals here.