Dr. Shareef Jandali: Infant Ear Molding - Stamford Moms

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 the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He has been in practice for over 12 years and specializes in ear molding for newborn ear deformities. Dr. Jandali treats newborns from Stamford, Connecticut, as well as surrounding towns at his Connecticut office.

What is ear molding?

Ear molding is a non-surgical procedure performed on newborns that uses an ear splint or “ear braces” to reshape a misshapen ear (congenital ear deformity). Ear molding is performed to avoid future corrective ear surgery (otoplasty) in the future.

How did you get started performing ear molding?

I started performing ear molding after my first daughter was born over 10 years ago with a mild ear deformity on one side. I knew it could be easily corrected non-surgically with ear molding, but I didn’t perform it at that time and had none of the supplies needed. Our pediatrician didn’t know of anyone in Connecticut performing ear molding. We called both Children’s Hospitals (Yale and Hartford) and neither offered it. So, we brought her down to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where I did my training. My mentor performed the ear molding and she got a great result after 5 weeks of molding. I started performing ear molding in Connecticut, and soon noticed a lot of families coming from New York and New Jersey for ear molding. I therefore opened an office in Manhattan to make the travel easier for parents from New York and New Jersey. I have developed my own techniques and customized molds to be able to offer it to older babies (up to 3-4 months old) and newborns with more complex deformities.

When should ear molding be started in newborns?

Ideally, ear molding should be started within the first few weeks after birth. A newborn’s ear cartilage is still soft and moldable from the estrogen that is still in the baby from the mother. The estrogen levels start to drop by 5-7 weeks old, so the goal is to begin molding before the ear cartilage starts to harden and then secure it in position as it hardens in the corrected ear shape. The earlier that ear molding is started, the shorter the duration of treatment and the better the results.

What is the oldest age that ear molding can be performed?

I have performed ear molding up to 3-4 months of age for certain deformities. I discuss with parents that I can usually still obtain an improvement, but I may not be able to obtain perfect symmetry or full correction. Parents of newborns with misshapen ears in Stamford, CT, 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 prominent baby ears (ears that stick out). Some examples include the following:

Prominent Ears: These are infant ears that stick out too far from the sides of the head and look enlarged. This occurs from poor formation of a fold of cartilage that normally holds the ears back. Ear molding can form a well-defined fold to bring the ears closer to the sides of the head.

Folded or Pointed Ears: These are baby ears where the top of the ear folds over or is pointed due to misshapen cartilage. Ear molding can unfold or round out any pointed part of the outer ear cartilage.

Constricted Ears: These are baby ears where the outer rim of cartilage is tight and constricted, leading to an ear that looks curled in and smaller, but can also stick out more (cup ear deformity). Ear molding can gently stretch the skin and cartilage and pull the ear back into a more normal position.

Uneven Baby Ears: Sometimes a baby’s ear can be misshapen or uneven due to a few deformities being present at the same time in one ear. Any asymmetries can usually be corrected with ear molding.

How is ear molding performed? Do you use EarWell for ear molding for newborns in Stamford, CT?

Ear molding is performed by creating a customized ear mold, what some people call an ear splint or an ear brace. This is done either with the EarWell device, or by custom making one out of soft medical- grade silicone gel. The mold holds the ear in the desired shape to gently mold the cartilage until it hardens in the improved shape. I use the EarWell device on certain deformities, but I usually make my own customized molds, which fit babies’ ears better as they are growing.

Is ear molding painful for the baby?

Not at all. The process of applying the mold on the baby is painless and it does not cause any discomfort or irritation. Usually the baby is sleeping, feeding from a bottle, or using a pacifier as the ear mold is being applied. The soft, custom-made ear splints do not cause excessive pressure and most babies completely ignore them. Babies can still be positioned on their sides and be placed in car seats. Parents can still use hats and headbands as they normally would – we just don’t want the babies sweating too much as the adhesive tape can get loose. The ear molds don’t affect breastfeeding or bottle feeding. We ask parents to place a dry cloth to cover the area to avoid any drips or spit up going into the mold or tape. The molds also don’t cover the opening to 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 the type of the deformity, how thick the ear cartilage is, the severity of the deformity, and at what age molding is started. In most babies, it takes 4-6 weeks to obtain the necessary correction. Adjustments are made to the ear mold every 2 weeks in order to check the progress and clean the ear.

Is ear molding effective in newborns?

Yes, ear molding is highly effective with success rates almost 100% when started in the first few weeks after birth.

What should parents in Stamford, know about any potential risks with ear molding?

Ear molding is very safe as it is non-surgical and uses medical grade soft silicone parts and adhesive. Occasionally, there can be mild side effects, such as skin irritation or redness underneath the tape or silicone mold. We guide parents in precautions to take, what to look out for, and what needs to be done if any of these occur. 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 on babies from Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.

Are there many specialists for ear molding in Stamford?

There are very few plastic surgeons or pediatric ENTs that perform newborn ear molding. Not many surgeons are trained in the techniques to become comfortable performing ear molding in a safe and effective manner. Parents should look for a provider with many before and after photos, showing their expertise correcting a wide variety of ear deformities.

Is ear molding covered by insurance?

Yes, most insurance companies cover ear molding as they consider it medically necessary to correct a congenital ear deformity. We always obtain insurance authorization and check benefits before the first visit.

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

Parents can call our Connecticut office directly at (203) 374-0310. Our website also has all necessary information: https://ear-molding.com/.

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