Children's Hospital Colorado
A bright blue background with the "balloon boy" off center to the right. The balloon boy is a blue character who appears to be soaring by holding red, orange and yellow balloons above his head.

Some ear deformities in children are cosmetic, while others can cause problems with your child’s hearing and development. At Children’s Hospital Colorado, our expert plastic surgeons treat a variety of ear conditions with leading-edge surgical techniques.

In addition to developmental benefits, reconstructive treatment can also help raise your child’s confidence and improve their psychological well-being. While improving your child’s hearing is always a priority, we take a holistic approach to treatment at Children’s Colorado, with the goal of not only improving physical health, but mental health as well.

What is ear deformity treatment?

Our ear deformity treatment team addresses a range of conditions that affect ear anatomy in children, including microtia, anotia and protruding ears. Whether it is using otoplasty surgery to correct protruding ears or reconstructing ears affected by microtia, our team works with each child and their family to create a custom treatment based on their unique condition and expectations.

Conditions we treat

  • Microtia: A congenital (present at birth) condition that causes the external ear to be incompletely formed.
  • Anotia: A congenital (present at birth) condition that causes the absence of the external ear.
  • Protruding ears: Ears that stick out more than 2 cm from the head are considered to be “protruding ears.”
  • Cauliflower ears: A condition that is the result of trauma, causing the ear to swell with blood or fluid.
  • Earlobe deformities: Earlobes that misshaped, abnormally formed, or affected by an injury.
  • Ear injuries: Traumatic injuries can range from a split earlobe to the loss of large portions of the ear, such as from a dog bite or laceration. The type of repair depends on the extent of the tissue loss.
  • Stahl’s ears: A deformity consisting of an extra cartilage fold that results in a pointed ear shape.

Why choose Children’s Colorado for ear reconstruction?

A woman with brown hair and wearing a blue fleece jacket smiles while examining a smiling girl's ear.

Our doctors are nationally recognized experts in pediatric plastic surgery, particularly within the face, head and neck. They are presently conducting an international study of the genetics and clinical outcomes of ear reconstruction for kids affected by microtia in Guatemala.

At Children’s Colorado, our specialists treat the whole child – not just the illness or injury. Our plastic surgery team collaborates with doctors from other pediatric specialties, including ear, nose and throat, audiology, genetics and speech pathology, to kids get the care they need. Specialists in the Microtia Clinic work together to develop holistic treatment plans for ear reconstruction for children with microtia.

Ear reconstruction treatments we offer

Otoplasty surgery for protruding ears

The surgical correction, called otoplasty, is performed by making a small incision behind the ears and by using sutures (also known as stitches) to reshape ear cartilage.

Protruding ears are characterized by ears that stick out more than 2 cm from the head. Ears that appear “pushed too far forward” are referred to as prominent ears.

Prominent-ear_Final-02-web.jpg

A close-up illustration of a healthy ear after otoplasty surgery.

Surgical reconstruction for microtia

Microtia is a condition where the ear(s) does not fully develop while the child is in the womb. The ear is either too small or nearly absent, called lobular microtia or a constricted ear. Reconstruction for ears affected by microtia usually begins when kids are around 7 years old and involves a number of stages.

In the first stage, surgeons use cartilage from your child’s ribs to replace the missing ear cartilage. The additional stages of lobule transposition, ear elevation and reconstruction are usually completed within the following six to 12 months.

An illustration of a healthy ear with labels for superior crus, triangular fossa, inferior crus, conchal bowl, tragus, antihelix, scaphoid fossa, and helix.

Two circles with a close-up illustration of an ear. In the left one, the ear is bent and it is labeled as lobular microtia. In the right one, labeled Constricted, the ear appears as expected but with a thicker section on the outer ear labeled as Helix.