Dr. Shareef Jandali founded Jandali Plastic Surgery in Trumbull, CT, eight years ago. In addition to treating adults, he caters to children’s needs, including a non-invasive technique to correct newborn ear deformities called infant ear molding—and is one of only a few doctors in the state performing it. We spoke to Dr. Jandali about this innovative procedure, who might be a candidate for it and more.
Can you please tell us a bit more about yourself?
I was born and raised in Upstate NY. I completed my plastic surgery residency at the University of Pennsylvania. During my time there, my pediatric training was at CHOP, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where I first learned about ear molding. In 2011, I opened up my private plastic surgery practice in Trumbull, CT. I live in Southport with my wife and three girls.
What exactly is infant ear molding?
Infant ear molding is a non-surgical procedure used to correct newborn ear deformities or prominent ears. An ear deformity is when some part of the ear cartilage is shaped or bent incorrectly at birth. This can cause the ear to stick out, fold over, be pointed, or have any other unusual bend or kink in it. Every deformity is different and requires a customized mold to fix it.
How common are ear deformities in children?
Newborn ear deformities occur fairly frequently, with some studies showing it as high as 20-30% in newborns. Prominent ears are the most common and are almost half of all deformities. The second most common is a lidding deformity, where the top of the ear folds over. Studies have shown that if the deformity doesn’t correct on its own in the first week after birth, it will remain the same or worsen.
Can you describe what’s involved in it, and any risks?
Ear molding is by far the best and safest way to correct newborn ear deformities. In the first few weeks after birth, the estrogen in the baby keeps the cartilage soft and moldable. The estrogen levels start dropping at 6-7 weeks after birth and the cartilage start to harden.
We like to start ear molding in the first few weeks after birth and it usually takes anywhere from 2-6 weeks to correct the shape. It is a very safe procedure, does not hurt, and does not affect hearing or nursing. There is no recovery, as it is completely non-surgical.
Does ear molding have benefits besides cosmetic?
Although an ear deformity does not affect hearing or function, kids often have psychological stress and harm related to teasing when they get older. Ear molding is considered a congenital deformity and is therefore covered by insurance companies.
How does ear molding differ from older methods of reconstruction/taping/etc.?
Taping can cause excessive pressure in the wrong areas and can pull the outer rim of the cartilage, resulting in a new deformity. We therefore don’t recommend taping as a correction method.
The only other method of correction is surgical pinning of the ears, called otoplasty. This is performed if ear molding is not started early in life while the cartilage is still soft. However, surgery carries the additional risks of anesthesia, surgical complications, and recovery.
How did you become interested in this field?
I became interested in ear molding when my first daughter was born with an ear deformity about 6 years ago. My wife and I searched for anyone in Connecticut who performed the procedure and had all the necessary equipment. However, no one in the entire state was performing it at that time. We took her down to CHOP in Philadelphia, where my mentor performed the molding and obtained a great result. I decided to start performing ear molding and try to increase awareness with pediatrician offices and new mothers.
How many doctors in our area are doing this?
There are very few plastic surgeons in Connecticut performing ear molding. Patients used to have to travel to NYC or Boston to have this performed. We have now performed molding on over 100 babies and over 150 ears.
What other types of procedures/work do you do?
For cosmetic patients, I mostly perform breast surgery, body contouring, and feminine rejuvenation. For reconstruction, I perform a high volume of breast reconstruction and also treat skin cancer. Our office offers injectable treatments and other non-surgical anti-aging treatments.
What else would you like parents to know?
Ear molding is time-sensitive and needs to be started in the first few weeks after birth. Most ear deformities are completely correctable without surgery.
This post is sponsored by Jandali Plastic Surgery.
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