Microtia Specialist

Up Pediatric Plastic Surgery

Pediatric Plastic Surgery located in Houston, TX & Webster, TX

Microtia is a birth defect that occurs in about one in 6,000 to 12,000 births around the world. If your child was born with some degree of microtia in one of their ears, there’s a lot that plastic surgeons can do to fix the problem. At Up Pediatric Plastic Surgery, Shitel Patel, MD, and Jacqueline Wegge, MD, have considerable experience in ear reconstruction, helping children in Houston and Webster, Texas. To learn more, please call or use the online scheduler to book an appointment

Microtia Q & A

What are the surgical options for microtia?

The surgeons at Up Pediatric Plastic Surgery typically turn to three ear reconstruction techniques for children with microtia:

  • Cartilage reconstruction: The oldest and most traditional form of ear reconstruction uses cartilage from your child’s own body to create an ear. The surgeon performs the ear reconstruction in two or three different surgeries. During the first surgery, the surgeon removes cartilage from two or three ribs in your child’s chest. After carving the cartilage into a shape that resembles an ear, the surgeon places the cartilage framework beneath your child’s skin on the side of their head and waits for it to heal. Once healed, the surgeon may need to operate again to move the earlobe into its proper position, tweak the shape of the ear, and place skin grafts behind your child’s new ear so that it projects away from the head. This technique can’t be used until your child is 8-10 years old because their ribs need to be large enough to be used to make the ear.
  • Medpor® reconstruction: This is a newer procedure that the surgeons at Up Pediatric Plastic Surgery prefer. Medpor is a biocompatible synthetic substance made from porous polyethylene that’s been used successfully in ear reconstruction since the 1990s. Its properties allow your child’s tissues to grow into the implant, making it stronger, more incorporated into their body, and more resistant to infection. The implants come in pre-formed pieces that the surgeon customizes and shapes on the day of the surgery to match the size, shape, and projection of your child’s normal ear. Once the ear is healed, it tends to have a more normal shape and projection than a cartilage ear. Another advantage to using Medpor is that your surgeon can usually obtain excellent results in just one surgery. The surgeons at Up Pediatric Plastic Surgery perform this surgery in children as young as four, since the ear is about 80% of its adult size at this point.
  • Ear prosthesis: The third form of ear reconstruction is an ear prosthesis. This is an excellent option if you’d rather avoid surgery. An ear prosthesis is made of silicone by a specialist called an anaplastologist. A prosthesis looks extremely realistic and it can be made to almost exactly match the other normal ear. It’s held in place by special glue, or magnets implanted into your child’s skull.

What happens during ear reconstruction surgery for microtia?

After taking careful measurements to match the other ear, the surgeon shapes the Medpor accordingly to provide the framework for your child’s ear.

The surgeon then makes an incision in your child’s hairline, as well as at the location of the new ear, and creates what’s called a temporoparietal fascia flap. Underneath the scalp, there’s a layer of tough, thin, pliable tissue called the temporoparietal fascia, which has a robust blood supply. The surgeon lifts up this tissue and rotates it to the position of your child’s new ear, where it makes the perfect covering for the Medpor. The flap brings a blood supply to the area and gradually grows into the implant.

Once the Medpor is completely enclosed by the flap, the surgeon sutures it into place and covers it with skin. If additional skin grafts are needed, the doctor obtains them from behind the opposite ear or your child’s groin. After inserting drains, the surgeon places a foam-like splint over your child’s ear to protect it and sutures it in place.

What is recovery like after ear reconstruction?

You should plan on spending one night in the hospital. The doctor removes the drains the next day before you go home. The doctor gives your child a special compression headband to wear to help protect the ear until you come back to Up Pediatric Plastic Surgery in 10-14 days to have the splint removed.

After the doctor removes the splint, your child’s ear looks very swollen, which takes several months to subside.

If you want to get started on creating a new ear for your child with microtia, call Up Pediatric Plastic Surgery, or book an appointment online using the convenient scheduling tool.