Procedure shaping future of infants' deformed ears

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - 6-month-old Jamaria is a happy, healthy, and curious baby.

At birth, Jamaria's mother noticed a slight deformity with one of her daughters' ears.

Dr. Marcelo Hochman says 25 to 30 percent of infants are born with mild or severe ear deformities.

"It's a very large number of kids that are born with an ear or ears that don't look normal," Dr. Hochman said.

According to Dr. Hochman, some ears stick out while others may be folded over or the top of the ear may be pointed or flat.

Jamaria's grandmother Sharon Armstrong said she knew something just did not seem right.

"It was flat and I looked at the other ear and said they were not the same," Armstrong said.

Little Jamaria was then referred to Dr. Hochman who used a soft and painless device called an Ear Well. The Ear Well is placed on the infants deformed ear and helps mold it into shape.

"We take advantage of changes happening soon after the baby is born and we can harness that and change the shape of the ear," Dr. Hochman said.

The advantage of the Ear Well procedure is that it helps to avoid having surgery but he says time is of the essence. Dr. Hochman says the first one to two weeks after birth are vital because that's when the cartilage is soft and can be reshaped.

After the first 6 weeks the cartilage in the ear hardens.

"The key is that parents, physicians and nurses tell the parents that there is an option because if we miss that window were stuck for a few years," Dr. Hochman said.

For Jamaria's family, the Ear Well procedure was a no brainier.

"When she grows up she can have a regular ear and no one will tease her," said mother Jahemia Armstrong.

"We're truly blessed we caught it in time before she was too old," Sharon Armstrong said.

Copyright 2013 WCSC. All rights reserved.