Ear Molding with Dr. Jandali - FairfieldMoms

Dr. Shareef Jandali is a board-certified plastic surgeon with offices in Trumbull, Connecticut and Manhattan, NY.  He specializes in non-surgical ear molding for newborn ear deformities such as prominent ears, ear lidding, pointed ears, Stahl’s ear, constricted ear, and cup ear. Ear molding is a painless procedure performed in his office that gently corrects the misshapen ear cartilage. It is best to start in the first few weeks after birth for full correction, but improvements in shape can still be obtained up to 4 months of age. Ear molding does not affect hearing development, breastfeeding, or sleeping. Ear molding is usually covered by insurance. Visit www.ear-molding.com for more information.

Q&A Blog:

Dr. Shareef Jandali is a board-certified plastic surgeon practicing in Connecticut and New York City. He completed his plastic surgery residency training at the University of Pennsylvania and his pediatric plastic surgery training at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He has been in practice for 12 years and is a specialist in ear molding for newborn ear deformities. Dr. Jandali treats infants from Westport, Connecticut, with ear molding at his Trumbull office.

What is infant ear molding?

Ear molding is a non-surgical procedure used to reshape a newborn’s ears soon after birth when there is an ear deformity present. The purpose of ear molding is to avoid future corrective ear surgery (otoplasty) and obtain natural-appearing and symmetric ears in a newborn.

How did you start doing ear molding?

I started ear molding over 10 years ago after my first daughter was born. She was born with an abnormal fold in one of her ears and I knew it could be corrected non-surgically with ear molding. However, I didn’t perform ear molding at that time and had none of the supplies needed. Our pediatrician didn’t know of anyone performing ear molding and both Children’s Hospitals in Connecticut did not offer it. So, we ended up bringing her down to CHOP in Philadelphia where I did my training. My mentor molded her ear and she got a perfect symmetric result after 5 weeks of treatment. After that, I started performing ear molding at my Connecticut office. I have developed my own techniques and molds to be able to offer it to older babies (up to 3-4 months old) and babies with more severe deformities. The majority of babies that we treat with ear molding are from surrounding towns such as Westport, Fairfield, Trumbull, Shelton, and Bridgeport.

At what age should ear molding be started in babies?

Ear molding should ideally begin within the first few weeks after birth when the baby’s ear cartilage is still soft and pliable from the estrogen that is still in the baby from the mother. The estrogen levels start dropping by 5-7 weeks old. I try to start molding before the ear cartilage starts to harden and then continue molding as it hardens in the correct shape. The earlier ear molding is started, the shorter the treatment period.

What is the oldest age you can perform ear molding?

I have performed ear molding up to 3-4 months of age for certain deformities. At this age, I can usually still obtain an improvement in ear shape, but I may not be able to obtain full correction or perfect symmetry. Parents of babies with ear deformities in Westport, Connecticut, should reach out to our office early after birth for potential ear molding.

What types of ear deformities can be treated with ear molding?

Ear molding is performed to correct misshapen or abnormal baby ears or ears that appear too large. Some examples include the following:

Prominent Ears: These are baby ears that appear too large because they stick out too far from the sides of the head. This occurs due to poor formation of a fold of cartilage that holds the ears back. Ear molding can form a well-defined fold which pulls the ears closer to the sides of the head.

Folded or Pointed Ears: These are infant ears where the cartilage on the top of the ear folds over or is pointed. Ear molding can unfold or round out any pointed part of the outer ear cartilage and make it a smooth natural curve.

Constricted Ears: These are newborn ears where the cartilage of the outer ear rim is tight and constricted inward and forward, leading to an ear that looks squished and smaller. This can also make the infant’s ear stick out more or look cupped. Ear molding can gently stretch the tight cartilage and skin and pull the ear back into a more normal position.

Uneven Baby Ears: Sometimes there are a few different deformities present in the same ear. Almost all misshapen baby ears can be corrected or improved with ear molding, except for severe cases of microtia which require surgery.

How is ear molding performed? Do you use the EarWell Ear Correction System for newborn ear molding in Westport, CT?

Ear molding is performed by creating a customized mold, either with the EarWell device, or by making one out of soft medical grade silicone gel. Various pieces are customized and bent to exactly create the desired shape to match the opposite normal ear or what a normal ear should look like if both ears are misshapen. The mold holds the ear in the desired shape and gently stretches the cartilage until it hardens. I use the EarWell device on certain deformities, but it sometimes doesn’t work for complex deformities, and it also doesn’t fit older babies with larger ears (since it is one size fits all). I usually make my own customized molds, which fit babies’ ears better, especially as they grow.

Is ear molding painful for the baby?

Ear molding causes no discomfort to the baby at all. Usually, the baby is sleeping or feeding from a bottle as I perform the procedure. The soft, custom-made ear splints do not cause excessive pressure. Most babies completely ignore the ear molds once in place and don’t touch or grab them. Babies can still roll on their sides and be placed in car seats. Parents can still use hats and headbands. The ear molds don’t affect breastfeeding either – we do ask mothers to hold a cloth over the ear so that no drops of milk enter the mold. The molds don’t cover the ear canal, so they don’t affect hearing development.  

How long does the ear molding process take?

The duration of ear molding varies depending on what age the molding is started, the type of the deformity, and the severity of the deformity. In most cases, it takes 4-6 weeks of molding to obtain the necessary correction. Adjustments are made to the ear mold every 1-2 weeks to check on progress, make adjustments, and clean the ear.

How effective is ear molding for correction of misshapen baby ears?

Ear molding is very effective with success rates almost 100% when started in the first few weeks after birth. Even after the first few weeks, we can usually obtain significant improvement in appearance and symmetry of the ears.

What should parents in Westport, Connecticut, know about any potential risks with ear molding or possible complications?

Ear molding is very safe as it is non-surgical and applies gentle steady pressure to obtain the desired correct shape of the ear. It is performed with an EarWell device or custom-made medical grade soft silicone parts and adhesive. Occasionally, there can be skin irritation or redness that develops underneath the tape or the mold. This can occur when milk or spit up get under the mold or the adhesive. If this occurs, we remove the mold and allow the irritation to resolve for a few days before reapplying another ear mold.

How many ear moldings do you perform every year?

I perform about 100 ear moldings a year between my Connecticut and New York offices. More and more parents are learning of this amazing option for non-surgical correction of newborn ear deformities. 

Are there many specialists for ear molding in Westport, Connecticut?

There are very few plastic surgeons that have been trained to perform ear molding or have the experience to perform it in a safe and effective manner. When choosing an ear molding provider, be sure to look for someone with lots of before and after photos, showing their expertise correcting a wide variety of ear deformities with different severities.

Is ear molding covered by insurance?

Most insurance companies will cover ear molding as they consider it medically necessary to correct a congenital ear deformity. Our office will obtain insurance authorization and check benefits before the first appointment.

How do parents in Westport, Connecticut, learn more about ear molding or contact your office?

Parents can call our office directly at (203) 374-0310 to set up an appointment. They can also visit our website for more information: https://ear-molding.com/.

Join The Fairfield CT Moms Network Community

Stay up-to-date with what is happening in-and-around Fairfield, CT with local events, community highlights, and exclusive deals.