Medically reviewed by Dr. Youssef Tahiri
Patients who do not qualify for MEDPOR®/OMNIPORE® or rib cartilage ear reconstruction may choose to enhance their appearance with silicone prosthetic ear. Although Dr. Tahiri and Dr. Reinisch do not create restorations, they can help determine your candidacy, answer any questions you have, and refer you to an outstanding anaplastologist. Silicone prosthetic ears are simply intended to address the cosmetic effects of microtia – doctors cannot use them to restore or enhance hearing. These prostheses are typically more suitable for adults, since children tend to knock them off during play. Lastly, since they need to be taken off and cleaned, prosthetic ears may not restore patients’ self-esteem in the same way as a surgical procedure.
If you choose to enhance your appearance with a silicone ear, an experienced anaplastologist will carefully fabricate a prosthesis, using a mold of your unaffected ear. This customized precision means that your new ear will match the shape, skin color, and size of your healthy ear.
There are two types of prosthetic ears. The first adheres to the skin using safe, biocompatible glue, and the second type is called an osteointegrated prosthesis. If you choose to receive an oseointegrated prosthetic ear, your surgeon will place several titanium implant posts into the bone around the ear. The silicone ear will then snap securely onto these implants. Both types of prostheses are removable. You should take off your prosthetic ear before you sleep or participate in athletic activities, and you should also remove it once a day to thoroughly clean the ear and underlying tissue. Typically, these prostheses last between one and three years, depending on maintenance, environment, activity level, and other factors.
Prosthesis can provide an excellent color match with aesthetically pleasing results. The results are durable and the devices are replaceable, thus they can be revised and updated. They do not interfere with the ability to place bone anchored hearing aids. They can be designed to match the contralateral ear. Prosthesis may be more acceptable in adults, as they are more compliant.
Silicone ears are highly realistic, and they offer an excellent non-surgical option for the treatment of microtia or traumatic deformity. Silicone prosthetic ears are especially advantageous for adults who do not qualify for MEDPOR®/OMNIPORE® or rib cartilage reconstruction.
Although silicone ears are customized to look realistic, unlike MEDPOR®/OMNIPORE® or rib cartilage reconstruction, they do not use your own cartilage or skin, so they will not look as lifelike as these biological restorations. It can also be difficult to conceal the “seam” where the ear meets the skin. Because of this, and since they must be removed at night and before playing sports, patients with prosthetic ears may not always be wholly satisfied with their appearance. Additionally, although surgical treatment for microtia is more costly, it is a singular treatment cost, whereas prosthetic ears must be replaced periodically. Finally, prosthetic ears are typically not a good treatment option for children, since they often get knocked off during play.
If you or your child suffers from microtia, contact Dr. Tahiri and/or Reinisch to learn more about your treatment options. They can explain the various surgical treatments, and they will be happy to refer you to an anaplastologist to learn more about whether a silicone prosthetic ear is right for you.