Ear reshaping is used to treat protruding ears. Surgery to reshape the ears involves remodelling the cartilage into a less protruding shape. The two main techniques for correcting protruding ears are:
- Ear splinting – this involves resetting the soft cartilage and using a splint to keep the ear in the new position; it’s used to treat babies under six months old
- Otoplasty refers to any ear correction procedure that involves removing or reshaping the cartilage. The procedure can ‘pin back’ ears that stick out, make larger ears smaller or improve the ears’ appearance if they’ve become misshapen from activities like rugby or boxing.
A new treatment is the earFold, an implant in the form of a curved strip of flexible metal that’s placed under the skin on the front of the ear. It works by gripping the cartilage and folding it back into a predetermined shape, pulling the ear closer to the head.
The earFold is plated with 24-carat gold to reduce its visibility under the skin and can be left in place indefinitely. However, research suggests that after a year, the ear may retain its new shape even if the implant is removed. This procedure is currently only available at the Royal Free Hospital in London for private patients.