This ear deformity is the most most common ear abnormality in children, occurring when the ear protrudes farther from the skull than normal. Ear prominence may be limited to the upper, middle or lower third of the ear. Prominent ears may be the result of excess conchal cartilage, abnormal positioning of the ear cartilage or absence of normal folding of the ear cartilage when the ear is forming.
If the prominent ear deformity is noted in the first days of life, the abnormal shape and projection of the ear may be corrected non-surgically by ear molding techniques. In order for molding to be successful, treatment must be started in the first 2 weeks of life. When molding is not a possibility, either because of the deformity or because of later diagnosis, surgery may be required. Surgical treatment of prominent ears may involve removal of excess conchal cartilage, recreation of the absent helical fold and specialized suturing techniques to help minimize protrusion and reposition the ear. Although the timing of surgical correction varies, most surgeons perform surgery to correct prominent ears when the child is 4 or 5 years of age. Surgery is typically done as a day surgery procedure.