Which problems will EarBuddies™ correct?

EarBuddies™ splints can correct most problems caused by abnormal or missing folds of a baby's ear (Stick-Out Ear, Stahl's Bar, Cup Ear, Cryptotia, Lop Ear, Rim Kink, Stick-Out lobe and a Folded-over Helical Rim). As a general guide, if you can temporarily correct the problem by gently bending the misshapen ear or by pushing out a kink with your fingers, then EarBuddies™ should be able to give a permanent correction. However, the splints cannot replace missing tissue or guarantee success in all cases.

What Ear conditions can Ear Buddies treat? Rim Kink, Stick Out ears, Stahl's Bar, Cup Ear, Rim Kink e.t.c
 

In the photos below, we have tried to show the most clearly defined and obvious examples of each ear deformity. In practice, many problem ears have a mixture of different deformities, but in most cases the fitting technique is very similar (see our Fitting Guide).
To see if EarBuddies™ Splints are suitable for your baby, click here for our infographic.
We are unable to give individual advice, but should you wish to consult an expert, please click here.

 

Click below to jump to a specific ear condition.

 


Stick-Out Ears

Also known as Dumbo, FA Cup, bat, wing-nut and prominent ears.

Two-thirds of prominent ears are obvious soon after birth, while the rest become obvious as the head shape changes and the ear cartilage hardens during early life. It is in this period that surgery can be avoided with splintage. EarBuddies™ splints fix the cause of stick-out ears by remoulding the soft cartilage and, when it hardens, the correct position and shape becomes permanent.

Bat ears run in the family – do I need any special advice?
    • We recommend immediate splintage at birth for two weeks whether or not the child has any evidence of the problem.
    • About 30% of children who develop bat ears look normal for the first three months, and by this time, the splints must be worn for longer to take effect.
    • The success of EarBuddies™ Splints on ears of children of bat-eared families may be partly because parents have suffered teasing themselves in the past, and are particularly dedicated to splintage.
Baby with sticky out ears before Ear Correctors were fitted to side of head

before EarBuddies™


Stahl's Bar

Also known as a Stahl's Ear, third crus or Spock Ear.

Stahl's Bar Treated without Surgery

some are pointed

Rounded Stahl's Bar present in Baby

some are more rounded

Stick Out Stahl's Bar

Stahl's Bars can also stick out

Stahl's Bars are difficult to fix surgically, and are better fixed during infancy

difficult to fix surgically

A Stahl's bar is an unusual ear deformity which can make the ear look pointed. EarBuddies™ splints can correct these deformities easily in babies, whereas they are difficult to correct by later surgery, even in expert hands.

A Stahl's Ear is also known as a Spock Ear

before EarBuddies™

Stahl's Ear after ear buddies applied | before and after photos & reviews of EarBuddies

2 weeks later

pointed 'elf' (stahl's bar) ear before being reshaped by ear buddies splints

before EarBuddies™

ear buddies splint has rounded the cartilage of this stahl's bar

after EarBuddies™


Cup Ear

In a cup ear, the rim (helical rim or helix) is thick and constricted, that is, it seems too tight and inflexible for the ear, so that it looks cup-shaped, and often also sticks out.

In a cup ear, the rim (helical rim or helix) is thick and constricted
A Cup Ear is tight and inflexible, looks cup-shaped, and often also sticks out.
Baby has a cupped ear
Oreja en Copa
Neonate with a Cup Ear
  • It is usually difficult to flatten a cup ear against the side of the head because the rim will not "give" enough.
  • Although EarBuddies™ splints may assist, surgery may still be required to release the rim constriction.
  • An early fit, particularly if undertaken by an expert, can stretch the constricted tissues and increase the chance of correction.
Cup Ear can be corrected with EarBuddies Splints

before EarBuddies™

Baby Cup ear fixed by ear buddies splints

after EarBuddies™


Cryptotia

Sometimes only the lower two-thirds of an ear looks normal and the upper part seems stuck to the side of the head.  When the top of the ear is gently pulled away from the side of the head, the upper pole cartilage becomes evident, having been hidden beneath scalp skin.

  • To attempt an early, non-surgical correction, EarBuddies™ splints should be applied as soon as possible after birth to create the upper sulcus or post-auricular groove (the gap between the top of the ear and the side of the head).
  • After gently pulling the top of the ear from the side of the head, fix the splint into the groove which appears above it.
  • Without successful Early Ear Correction™ using EarBuddies™, later surgical treatment requires the insertion of a skin graft or local flap to release the tethered portion of the ear.
Cryptotia before corrected with ear buddies

before EarBuddies™

Criptotia after treatment with EarBuddies Cartilage Reshapers

after EarBuddies™


Lop Ear

Lop ear is a rare deformity in which the upper pole of the ear flops over. Because the upper pole has folded downwards, the rim loses its curved shape and appears flattened. The upper pole often sticks out from the side of the head, and the ear may appear square when viewed from the side.

A picture of a baby's ear with lop ear deformity
Baby with Lop Ear Deformity | Neonatal Ear Malformations
The top of the baby's ear folds over
The upper part of baby's ear folded over
  • Lop ear is a very difficult condition to correct surgically and it is therefore especially important to restore the normal curve of the arch early using a splint.
  • This makes the ear both rounder, and slightly taller, giving a more 'normal' appearance. If only one ear is lopped, successful splintage of the ear with the deformity should create a good match for the other side.
  • If a lop ear has not recovered a normal shape within a few hours of birth, it will require splintage.
  • EarBuddies™  splints can successfully correct lop ears.
Lop Ear before treatment with Ear Buddies Cartilage Molding Device

before EarBuddies™

Lop ear corrected with earbuddies without otoplasty ( surgery )

after EarBuddies™


Rim Kink

Some ears have a kink in the helical rim and in a few the whole ear appears collapsed vertically to give an ear of reduced height. A pronounced kink may present as a notch in the normal round arch of the helical rim.

  • These kinks often respond well to splintage.
  • A splint with a natural arch shape is inserted into the scaphal hollow to push out the kink and restore a natural curve to the rim.
  • This is particularly useful as surgical correction of these kinks in later life is difficult.
baby rim kink | bend in the edge of a baby's ear

before EarBuddies™

rim kink corrected and remolded using EarBuddies splints

after EarBuddies™


Folded-Over Helical Rim

Whilst the outer border of the rim often retains its roundness, the helical rim folds over sharply and obscures the scaphal hollow. This often creates a notch on the inner border of the helical rim and it is this which causes concern in later years; children are teased about their 'pointy' ears whereas it is in fact the folding-over of the helical rim that creates a sharp angle, as shown below. In some ears where the rim folds over, there is an indentation which looks as though a thumb print has been left in the rim (as in the picture in the centre below).

edge of babies ear folded over
picture of a folded over helical rim in a baby
baby with a ear that folds at the rim | ear buddies
infant ear deformities | bent over edge or rim of the ear
photo of the top of baby's ear folding down

 

  • Where there is a recess between the folded-over rim and the scaphal hollow, the splint can be pushed easily into it. As the correction progresses and the cartilage hardens, the splint can be used to lift the rim and it will begin to support itself.
  • Sometimes the folded-over rim is stuck to the scaphal hollow with no skin between. Splintage is then more difficult and a complete return to normal may not be possible, but in most cases a significant improvement is achieved.
  • This particular deformity is very difficult to fix surgically, and at present, few surgeons in the world can fix it satisfactorily. In most cases, splintage is much more likely to achieve a better result, and also avoids the expense and anaesthesia involved in surgery.

 

folded over helical rim deformity before using ear buddies

before EarBuddies™

 

folded over helical rim deformity after using ear buddies | fixed and corrected malformation

after EarBuddies™


Stick-Out Lobes

The ear lobe does not usually contain cartilage and simply hangs from the lower border of the cartilage framework of the ear - if the lobe sticks out, it is usually because the lower edge of the cartilage framework sticks out, and carries the lobe with it.

photo of babys ear lobe folding outwards and up
side view of a stick out lobe in a baby
baby's left ear has a stick out lobe
baby has abnormal big ear lobes
  • An EarBuddies™ Splint can be fitted to reshape the protruding section of cartilage that causes the lobe to project outwards, bringing it closer to the side of the head.
  • Superwide tape is used to maintain the position of the corrected lobe against the head.
  • You may need to persevere for several months, but this is a difficult problem to fix surgically, and so splinting can be really worthwhile.
ear lobe before correction with ear buddies cartilage shapers

before EarBuddies™

stick out lobe fixed with ear buddies without surgery

after 2 weeks


Conchal Crus

A normal ear has a shallow conchal bowl surrounded by the antihelix. A conchal crus is a rare deformity in which a bar of cartilage crosses the conchal bowl from just above the tragus to the antihelix. In some instances, the natural recess of the conchal bowl is almost entirely lost because cartilage in the floor of the bowl bulges outwards. A conchal crus can block the entrance to the the ear canal, and in later life, retention of in-ear headphones can be difficult.

A conchal crus is a rare deformity in which a bar of cartilage crosses the conchal bowl from just above the tragus to the antihelix.
 A conchal crus can block the entrance to the the ear canal, and in later life, retention of in-ear headphones can be difficult.
Conchal crus in a baby's ear
picture of a baby's ear with conchal crus or telephone ear

 

  • EarBuddies™ Splints can be used to restore the depth of the conchal bowl. Surgical correction in later life is possible, but difficult, and it is therefore important to tackle this deformity early.
  • To correct this deformity, the splint can be folded into a heart-shape and placed into the conchal bowl to push out the crus. Expert advice is strongly recommended as fitting is more difficult than for other conditions.
  • The cartilage of the crus often seems very firm, but gentle pressure over a few days can give surprisingly good results.

 

conchal crus before correction with ear buddies splints

before EarBuddies™

 

conchal crus corrected and fixed by ear buddies avoiding surgery in later life

after only 2 weeks


Large Ears (Macrotia)

If your baby's ears are perfectly formed, folded and shaped, and do not stick out, but are simply large, EarBuddies™ cannot reduce their size. In this case it would be best to wait until early adulthood before considering any action. Click here for more information on surgery to treat Macrotia.

EarBuddies™ can reduce the vertical ear height in some circumstances, for example, if the ear lacks a rim, and particularly where a Stahl's Bar is also present. For such an ear, you would place the splint a little way in from the uppermost edges of the ear, and then roll the edge over the splint so that the cartilage will harden in this shape to permanently recreate a rim, and reduce the vertical height of the ear by a few millimetres.


Small Ear (Microtia)

Microtia, which literally means small ear (micro = small, otia = ear), is a rare deformity in which the ear fails to form fully. This condition presents in a wide variety of ways, from a tiny flap of tissue to an underdeveloped ear with some identifiable structures.

EarBuddies™ cannot treat microtia, but in instances where there are identifiable structures present, splintage may help to improve the appearance until surgery can be considered.

Click here to see the stories of parents who have successfully treated these conditions, and avoided surgery later in life.