Constricted Ear (Lop Ear)
The terms constricted ear and lop ear are often used interchangeably. A constricted ear is present when the ear does not have normal size and is missing some of the normal features of the ear. The ear appears smaller than normal and often there is a folding forward and downward of the upper portion of the ear. This can range from mild to severe.
If diagnosed in the first month of life, some milder forms of constricted ears can be treated with ear molding techniques. If detected later in life or if the constricted ear is severely misshapen, then a surgery is needed to restore a more normal shape and size to the ear. These procedures are usually performed after age 5 years old. Before age 5 years old the ear cartilage is usually weak and the techniques that are used to reshaped the ear will use some suturing (stitching) techniques that require the cartilage to be strong enough to hold the sutures. Also, before age 5 the ear has significant growth remaining. It is better to allow the ear to get as close to the adult size as possible and the ear cartilage to get as strong as possible before reconstruction. Ideally, this will be completed before self esteem issues and/or ridicule from peers begins, which is usually around age 6-7 ears old.
The surgeries for constricted ears can vary widely, because constricted ears can affect ears in very different ways. The procedure must be tailored to the patient’s ear shape. The common forms of constricted ears involve some loss of the details and size in the upper part of the ear, so most surgeries focus on restoring the vertical dimension and the normal features to the upper ear. These types of reconstruction are often very challenging so it is important that you see a surgeon with experience in treating these problems.