(WFLX) - Up to 30 percent of children have some type of ear deformity at birth. There is an operation to correct the problem, but a new device could mean surgery can be avoided altogether.
Baby Noga is now 3 1/2 months old. She has a white plastic contraption to slowly change the shape of her tiny ears. "Right after birth, her mother and I noticed her right ear is prominent, more prominent, than the other," said her father.
Therefore, Noga's parents brought her to Dr. Theodore Diktaban, a plastic surgeon in Manhattan. When Noga was a 1 1/2 weeks old, Dr. Diktaban first placed a device called the 'EarWell'.
It slowly reshapes the cartilage of the deformed ear. "The child will never know this device was applied. Their ears will be corrected. They don't have to go through the years of being teased, hazed and ridiculed," said Dr. Diktaban.
The EarWell system has four basic parts: A cradle that fits over the ear and sticks to the skin, then two types of retractors that hold the ear in the ideal shape, and a cover that snaps on top.
The parents can look to make sure everything is ok, and these little holes prevent moisture buildup.
Dr. Diktaban says the key to success is starting treatment before the baby is three weeks old. "Many people think wait and see. The key is to do it early when the ears are soft."
Every two to three weeks, he removes the EarWells, repositions the ears, and puts new ones on until the correction is complete.
After wearing the EarWells for 11 months, Noga's now has the device removed. "I see a tremendous difference compared to when she was born," said Noga's dad.
Dr. Diktaban says he's happy with the left ear; however, the right ear still needs a little more time. "I just need to get the top of the ear a little bit closer, and, I think, she'll be done with treatment in a couple of weeks."
Learn More about EarWells.