The Many Drawbacks of Nonsurgical Microtia Treatment
Prosthetic Ears Improve Appearance
Another option for ear reconstruction is a prosthetic ear. Prosthetic ears can look very natural when fabricated by a skilled technician (anaplastologist). They attach to the patient’s head with either adhesive tape or osseointegrated implants. Problems encountered with prosthetic ears include falling off at inopportune times causing embarrassment and further psychosocial withdrawal, and significant lifetime cost. Prosthetic ears are made out of latex and they can become oxidized, split and crack with time (similar to the rubber on your automotive tires) requiring a new prosthetic be made very few years. Over the lifetime of the patient this can create a significant financial burden (frequently the first prosthesis can be covered by an insurance plan but usually the additional prostheses are paid for out of pocket by the patient).
Prosthetic ears are made of rubber and although they may be artistically painted, they still look like rubber rather than living tissue. The best way to know if this option is best for you is to see close up photos of prostheses. Most photos that we see published of prosthetic ears are small and low resolution. Ask to see life size photos that are large and detailed enough so that you can see the small hairs on the cheek, carefully study them and then make your decision.
Dr. Griffiths believes that prosthetic ears are best suited for a less active senior patient who is usually missing an ear because of skin cancer or trauma, or for a young patient who is undecided about microtia surgery and wants something that they can wear publicly for the time being. It is very important for patients and parents who chose a prosthesis option to avoid any scars around the ear remnant. Scars are usually from placement of bone anchors that are put in help to hold the prosthesis in place (Dr. Griffiths suggests you use adhesive). Any scars would damage tissues that would then be less suitable for future microtia surgery.
Nonsurgical microtia treatment has many drawbacks. If you have decided to do nothing because of financial issues, please contact our office, we can help you.
Patience is a Virtue
The easiest option for you or your child’s microtia is to do nothing. This is not a bad option while you carefully study at all the other options, meet with multiple surgeons and look into insurance issues. Dr. Griffiths advocates the use of a bone conducting hearing device held in place with a softband while you wait. For more information on hearing devices in children with aural atresia click here.
If you have decided to do nothing because of financial issues, please contact our office, we can help you. We are experts in working with your current insurance provider to limit your out of pocket expense. Does health insurance cover microtia surgery? Please click here for more information
Although waiting to decide is certainly an option, many adults who contact our office for microtia reconstruction often tell us they wished they could have had surgery when they were in grade school before the teasing started. Another thing to consider is the improvement in school performance in children with aural atresia who have had their hearing restored.
“My son is experiencing a happiness and a confidence that I have never seen before. You have taken away a big, big hurt...Thank you for making my son happy.” Michael, Father of a Former Patient