Microtia is the medical term for deformed or underdeveloped ears. It is a congenital condition where the external ears (pinna) do not develop fully. It can be psychologically traumatic for children and they may find it difficult to deal with the condition without proper guidance and support. Hearing may also be impeded because of the condition. Modern cosmetic surgery has treatment options which can restore the natural look of the ears.
Available Treatment Options for Microtia
There are three main treatment options available for Microtia patients, all of which require surgical intervention for the restoration of the ear.
Rib Cartilage and Skin Graft
Rib cartilage and skin graft has been in use for decades and it can be the best treatment option. It is a complex two stage procedure, but it is considered among the best when it comes to attaining natural looking ears. Craniofacial plastic surgeons can operate on patients between 5 and 7 years of age, whose ribs are fully developed so that the cartilage can be used for the surgical correction. The rib cartilage of the patient is sculpted to look like an ear, after which it is placed beneath the skin where the ear is supposed to be. The procedure takes about 5 hours for completion and patients recover in just 3 days’ time.
A gap of 4 months is needed before the next procedure. This is to allow the skin to take the shape of the cartilage and ensure complete healing of the region. The specialist would focus on the finer aesthetic aspects of the ear to bring about a natural feel and look. This is done by raising the ear which lies flat against the head. A skin graft along with a small block of cartilage is placed to raise the ear and hold it in position.
Pros and Cons of Ear Reconstruction Surgery
The cons of ear reconstruction surgery using cartilage and a skin graft are limited to the risks of any surgical procedure that utilizes a graft. The positive results attained can instill self confidence by restoring the natural look and feel of the ear, while improving hearing as well. On the contrary, ear implant and ear prosthetics as treatment options for Microtia have certain drawbacks and limitations which need to be discussed with an experienced craniofacial plastic surgeon.