Ear Reconstruction FAQ
Dr. John Reinisch answers: Will an ear implant placed in a child need to be replaced when the child grows older? Can children who have an ear reconstruction lead a normal life? Will ear implants last a lifetime?View transcript
I want to answer common questions that we get about ear reconstruction. I think the biggest, or most common question is, does an ear implant that we place in a three-year-old have to be replaced when children are older. And the answer is no. And surprisingly, as you may know from Rugrats, young children have large heads because their brains are essentially adult-size by the time they're four. That's true with your eyeballs, and it's true of your ears. So a child who is three or three and a half has an ear that's about 85% normal size, normal adult size. So we don't have to make an ear much larger because it's a child. If we have a three-year-old, we make it about four or five millimeters larger. If we have a five-year-old, we make it the same size as the other ear, because it doesn't keep increasing in size. Because we can make the ear the eventual adult size, we don't need to replace the implant as a child grows. The next question that we often get is, can children who have ear reconstruction lead a normal life? Can they play sports? Can they wear glasses? Can they wear helmets? And the answer is, yes, they can. And we want them to be absolutely normal in their activity. We've been using this material that the implant is made of for 31 years. The material has been used in the human body since the '50s, so we expect that the ear implant that we place in a child will last a lifetime, although we've only been using it for 31 years.