Dr Nicholas Lotz
MBBS BSc(Med) FRACS
Specialist Plastic Surgeon
Main Rooms
Level 1 357 Military Rd
MOSMAN, NSW 2088
Appointments & Enquiries
info@drnicholaslotz.com.au
Ph: 1300 304 209
Fax: 02 9904 0166

Ear Splinting in Children

The following information sheet is intended to assist parents preparing for their child to undergo ear moulding using ear splints with Dr Nicholas Lotz.


 

Overview

Ear Splinting

Ear splinting (or ear moulding) is a safe, effective, non-surgical technique used to reshape the cartilage of the ears when it is abnormal. In order to be effective, it needs to be performed early in an infants’ life. The earlier that you begin to splint an ear, the shorter a period of treatment it requires.

Timing  of Ear Splinting

When a child is born, the ear cartilage is very soft and easily shaped. This is the reason to start splinting early if you are concerned. As the child ages, the cartilage becomes firmer and moulding is more difficult. Ideally splinting is started in the first few weeks of life but can be effective up to a year to 18 months age.

Ear moulding is not applicable for all ear deformities, but Dr Lotz will be able to advise you if it is suitable for your child. In many cases future surgery can be completely avoided by using ear splinting. It is our experience that even if ear splints do not completely avoid the need for future surgery, they can lessen the amount of future surgery that may be required.

Ear Splinting

Procedure

Applying an ear mould will not cause your child any discomfort and takes only a few minutes. Dr Lotz will make and apply the mould whilst you hold your child.

You will then be given some extra material and shown how to make the ear splint in case it needs to be changed.

Your child will be reviewed every few weeks and advised when the splinting can be stopped.

Suggested duration for ear moulding

The splint should be worn for 24 hours a day.

Complications from ear splinting

Complications are very unusual but include:

  • Incomplete correction of the deformity
  • Pressure areas on the skin of the ear
  • Recurrence of the deformity if the splint is removed too early
  • Irritation or allergy to tapes

Ear Splinting / Ear Moulding in Infants

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to splint the ears early in children?

The infants’ ear cartilage is softest early on, so starting earlier not only means more effective results, but a shorter period of ear splinting is required.

How long will my child need to have their ear splinted?

This chart shows how long to splint the ears for:

The splint should be worn for 24 hours a day.

Can I take the splints off?

The splints are best worn 24 hours a day; they are made to be comfy, and your baby should be able to sleep on a splinted ear. However, you can remove them for a few hours for a special occasion, or when swimming.

If you do take the splints off, make sure you refit as soon as possible, as you can quickly lose the benefit of the correction, particularly early in the splintage.

Does breastfeeding affect splintage duration?

Breastfeeding keeps the cartilage softer for longer. If Mum is breastfeeding, about 25% more splintage time may be required as the cartilage is slower to harden. After two months of age, ear splintage times may be 10% shorter than stated above if Mum is breastfeeding because the cartilage will be slightly softer and more mouldable. This is not a reason to delay beginning ear splintage however, as the sooner you begin, the greater the likelihood of a good result. 

How will I know when to take the splints off my child's ears?

Dr Lotz will advise you how long to continue the splints for, in accordance with the chart above. If you remove the splint and the shape remains unchanged for 48 hours then you no longer need the splints. If the shape starts to slowly change then they should be reapplied.

What do I do if my child is too old for ear splinting?

Dr Lotz can advise you on surgical options, including an otoplasty to surgically reshape the ear and make it sit closer to the side of the head.