The younger an infant is, the more malleable their ears are, and the better the ears respond to molding
Ear shape abnormalities are one of the most common congenital deformities, and affect 4-5% of the population. Embryologically ears are pretty complicated structures, as they form in the first 18 weeks of gestation from the coalition of six separate "hillocks". So it's not surprising that sometimes Mother Nature doesn't get them quite right.
We've known for a long time that it is possible to mold the ears of newborns to address misshapen ears without surgery, using tape, foam, wire and plastic tubing, but until recently there has not been simple or reliable ways to treat misshapen ears without surgery. Now there are, and these methods can be used in the first weeks of life to treat misshapen or deformed ears to save the need for future surgery.
Yes, if started early. To be most effective and successful, ear molding should be started in the first weeks of life.
Plastic surgeons around the world are in agreement on the effectiveness of infant ear molding.
The younger an infant is, the more malleable their ears are, and the better the ears respond to molding. Ear cartilage is very pliable immediately after birth, but becomes more elastic and firm within a few days of birth. This is attributed to oestrogen levels in the baby, which are high at birth due to the high maternal oestrogen levels during pregnancy, but fall rapidly in the first six weeks of life. The elasticity of ear cartilage is increased by oestrogen, because oestrogen increases the amount of hyaluronic acid, which increases the proteoglycan concentration in the cartilage. Treatment in the first six weeks of life is most effective, which is why we and others recommend treatment be started as early as possible.
We do not offer consultations for infants aged 5 months or older. We do not recommend ear molding for infants above 6 months of age due to the requirements for prolonged molding and the increased difficulty of molding in older babies who are able to grab at their ears, have greater head mobility and increased sweating which increases the likelihood that the skin will become moist and get irritated during the molding process.