At What Age Does Microtia Surgery Begin?
Microtia, a condition in which the external ear is small or not properly formed, can impact self-esteem and hearing. Microtia treatment is available to reconstruct the ear and help children with microtia feel confident. At Reinisch Plastic Surgery, Dr. John Reinisch provides microtia surgery for children to improve hearing and reconstruct the ear.
It’s normal for parents of children with microtia to wonder at what age does microtia surgery begin? For our Beverly Hills, CA, patients, the answer depends on the type of surgery being performed.
Age and Type of Microtia Surgery
Microtia can make children feel insecure, especially once they start school and are around other children. As a result, it’s common for parents to want their child to undergo microtia surgery as soon as possible.
The age at which children can undergo microtia surgery depends on the type of surgery: MEDPOR® ear reconstruction or rib cartilage reconstruction.
Age 3 for MEDPOR Ear Reconstruction
MEDPOR ear reconstruction is a surgical technique that recreates the ear using the child’s own tissue over a porous polyethylene framework. The polyethylene ear framework is attached to the head and covered with a thin layer of tissue from beneath the scalp. As the tissue heals, it integrates with the porous framework, creating a natural looking and feeling outer ear.
Typically performed as a single outpatient surgery, MEDPOR ear reconstruction can be done as early as three years of age, and it can be combined with ear canal surgery to improve hearing and the appearance of the ear.
Ages 7 to 10 for Rib Cartilage Reconstruction
Another surgical option for treating microtia is rib cartilage reconstruction. With this technique, the child’s own rib cartilage is used to create an ear framework.
Rib cartilage reconstruction is an involved and invasive technique that requires two to five surgical procedures and begins with harvesting cartilage from several ribs through an incision made in the child’s chest. The cartilage is pieced together and sculpted to resemble the shape of the ear.
Next, the ear framework is surgically placed under the scalp. Once healed, further surgeries are performed to move the newly formed ear away from the scalp, as well as adjust the earlobe and other structures.
Rib cartilage reconstruction can’t be performed until children have a sufficient amount of rib cartilage to create an adult-sized ear. For most children, this is somewhere between the ages of 7 and 10.
Determining the Right Age for Treatment
Once a child turns 3, they may be ready to undergo microtia surgery. If choosing rib cartilage reconstruction, the child will need to wait until they’re at least 7.
Although a child may be old enough for surgery, they may not be ready. This is especially a concern for rib cartilage reconstruction as it is more invasive, usually requires a hospital stay, and is more painful.
Determining the right age for treatment is best decided between you and your child’s doctor.
Schedule a Consultation
If you have questions about microtia treatment and whether now is the right time for your child, please call our Beverly Hills office at (833) 896-3277 to schedule a consultation.