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Floppy Ear Question

 
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wyowyome



Joined: 01 Apr 2010
Posts: 319
Location: WY

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:26 am    Post subject: Floppy Ear Question Reply with quote

Ok gals,
So, I have a strange topic for you. Wondering if anyone has any advice or experience with it?

Baby girl has one ear that sticks out more than the other. The cartilage just seems softer, not firm enough to hold the top of the ear close to her head. I first noticed this at 3 months, but as I looked back at newborn pics, it was there all along. We endearingly call it her "puppy ear"- and honestly, right now, it's super cute!

At first, both ears looked identical, it was just the softness of the upper ear cartilage that stood out from the "floppy ear" to the normal one. After googling ALL kinds of advice- from leave it to fix it- I was determined to leave it alone. Now though, at 5 months, the floppy ear rim is beginning to look thinner and the ear looks like it's sticking further and further out all the time, especially from behind!

Most people never even notice it. But what is bothering me, is that in my quest to find out what might be causing it (who knows- womb positioning?), I read about the possibility that ear splints "Ear Buddies" could fix it. The older the child, the longer the spints have to be worn.

I asked my doc about ear buddies at her 4mo appt. She'd never heard of them, nor had the ENT doc she consulted. They were skeptical that it would even work. I decided not to do anything and let be what will be.

But, now I am wavering again, afraid the floppy ear is becoming more noticable...and time is against me. If the ear buddies actually work, the older she gets, the less effective they will be, and the longer she'd have to wear them. If her ear is getting "worse", I will feel awful if I had the chance to "fix" it without surgery but didn't, and I don't want her bullied or afraid to wear a ponytail for life! I'm sure the tapes would be miserable to deal with, but they aren't painful and they might be worth it in the long run?

So...1) Does anyone know if Ear Buddies actually work? 2) If they do, should I use them (could be up to 5 months of taping)? 3) Do I just leave the poor girl's ear alone, whether she "grows" out of it or not?

What do you all think? This mama is too tired lately to make decisions such as this. Thank You!
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mommy2-2



Joined: 24 Jun 2011
Posts: 234

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wish I had some advice, but I don't. My little guy (now 2 1/2) had an almost folded ear and they kept telling me it would correct itself...that it was a result of his position before birth. Now it's looking better, but it's still a wonky little ear, with redundant fold at the top...adorable to me, but probably will attract some teasing. I guess I never thought to do anything about it as it is who he is (he has some birth marks, a bump on his finger where his extra finger nub was taken off, a wonky ear, and wonky toes...) I know it can be different for boys vs. girls though. I figure if he would like to have it "fixed" when he's older, it can be his choice. My friend let her daughter get her ears pinned (they were very prominant) when she was in 2nd grade, I think) and it was her choice and they look beautiful. She is a ballerina and always had her hair pulled up and back, so they really stood out.
With my Ds, you don't really notice the difference between ears unless you look at one, then the other comparing them...then it's obvious, but I figure how many people will do that? And even in a photo...a simple head tilt would make it a nonissue.
With your DD, is it obvious when looking at her from the front?
I've never heard of the ear splints...but over a long time it would make sense as the cartlige grows and "shapes"...but I would imagine it would take years to change it...
My vote...unless it's really obvious (like missing an ear or folded in half), I'd probably see how it grows out and then let her decide what she wants. We don't all have to be perfect in eachothers' eyes...as a matter of fact, it's exactly that which can cause such unhappiness in our society. With my Ds, I kind of figure it's like the "ding" in the new car...he's already got that out of the way...he doesn't have to try to look "perfect" =0) though he is absolutely perfect to us!
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wyowyome



Joined: 01 Apr 2010
Posts: 319
Location: WY

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks mommy2-2. I really had decided to leave it alone and just let it be whatever it wants to be...but then I got all panicky when I thought it might actually be looking worse?

And by worse, I just mean different than the other ear. If they both were "puppy ears", I'd never know the difference! It's just that they don't "match".

I don't know what to think about the ear splints. They do it with dogs all the time- to get flop ears to stand erect after surgery- but would it really work with baby ears? I'd love to hear from anyone with experience with them. Guess they are all the rave in Europe?

And now that she's 5 mos, it would probably take at least that long in the splints to make a dent in their shape. Sounds daunting to me...taping, skin integrity, keeping her from pulling them off...

But then another voice says- if it does get worse and then she wants surgery to fix it, I will regret not fixing it non-surgically for her while I had the chance. People "brace" all kinds of things: teeth, feet, etc for better appearances, so why not ears, too?

It isn't the first thing people notice about her when they see her- she has really pretty eyes that draw away from the ears (: But, it can easily be noticed if I mention it- and I can totally see it in all her pictures. I just want to do what is best for her. Kids can be cruel. But I agree with teaching her that beauty comes from within, too. What to do? What to do?
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StrwbrryMmmy



Joined: 20 Jan 2012
Posts: 87
Location: British Columbia

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not familiar with ear buddies but after a quick google they supposedly only work up until a certain age, after the cartilage gets hard surgery is the only option. If you think that if it may bother her when she's older it would be better to nip it in the bud now when splinting is still an option.
Whether you leave it or try to correct it, I'm sure it will be fine in the long run. We mommas spend hours looking at our babies features, it may not appear as prominent to other folks as it does to you.
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wyowyome



Joined: 01 Apr 2010
Posts: 319
Location: WY

PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks ladies, I just broke down and ordered them today...after trying to fashion the same thing for cheaper at home.

I made a pretty decent splint, too, but was too afraid to use it because I didn't trust the material taped against her skin where I couldn't see it for 2 weeks at a time... At least Ear Buddies products have been tried and tested..

I decided not to care what others think of the decision. I'd rather pay the $150 US now than the thousands later WHEN she decides to have that ear surgically pinned back.

The ear does appear to be "getting worse" in that it is now beginning to cup forward on top- with the outer helix disappearing more and more.
I think she lays on it wrong in bed, and whenever her head is turned, that ear is sure to be found folded over on itself under her head- which only makes it stick out more.

She is beautiful no matter what to us- but I've decided to view it much like braces for teeth. If something CAN be done and I know about it, I will do it to help her feel better in the long run. It's really a simple fix if it works! A little piece of silicone, some tape, and time= presto/chango- ear is all better!

I know she is a little old to be starting the splinting, but the website does show good results in a little girl who started at the same age. Mallory is presently 100% breastfed, and that supposedly helps, too, since the estrogens from mom are what keeps the ear soft. As she weans onto solid food, hopefullly her ear will respond well to the splints as it hardens.

Guess we will soon find out!

Thanks for your responses (:
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StrwbrryMmmy



Joined: 20 Jan 2012
Posts: 87
Location: British Columbia

PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting about breastfeeding keeping cartilage softer longer.
Let us know how it works out..good luck!
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mommy2-2



Joined: 24 Jun 2011
Posts: 234

PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 11:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let us know how it goes! I hope it works for your little sweetie!
I know what you mean...it's tough when you feel conflicted and aren't sure what decision to make...follow your own intuition and heart and you won't go wrong. It took me a while to figure out that no matter what person/book/professional, etc. says is the "right" thing to do, there is another person/book/professional that says it's the "wrong" thing. The "right" thing is what works for you and your family. =0)
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wyowyome



Joined: 01 Apr 2010
Posts: 319
Location: WY

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So...we did order the ear buddies. Cost about $110 US. Waaay to much, IMO!

What I got in the kit is unfortunately nearly the EXACT same thing I had fashioned out of a 50-cent "bendy bunny toy" leg and some steri-strips. Instead of plastic with wire inside, the splint is silicone and is a bit thinner- but not much softer. Should have used my own for nearly nothing!

We placed the splint on a Tues night. Tapes are skin colored, so are not too obvious. Did it while she slept. Not too difficult. When done- her ear was in perfect position! Other than the tapes- it looked great!

Gave her a bath on Thurs noc. We tried to keep tapes/ear dry, but she splashed & I suspected they might've gotten damp for a second b4 I pressed a towel to the site and used Q-tips behind ear to wick away any residual possible moisture. No probs that night.

In am, she had one sweaty tantrum and first tape came off. We were traveling, so no replacement tape available. In no time, she had the entire splint ripped off and hanging by a thread. Her ear was all red where the tapes had been and behind it. In 2.5 days!?!

I am not giving up just yet- got some adhesive remover to get the gunk off, some skin prep to protect her skin & help the tapes stick. Re-taped last night. Will let u know how it goes.

Still don't know if it's worth the trouble, but it does keep the ear from bending over on itself when she lays on that side- and when the tapes are on, her ears "match". We got some pretty headbands to cover and protect the tapes. Could be a long few MONTHS with these things!?! I only wish there was a 100% guarantee for the effort.
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wyowyome



Joined: 01 Apr 2010
Posts: 319
Location: WY

PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well...one month down in the Ear Buddy treatment. I am posting this mostly for anyone else thinking of trying these (or similar) who does an internet search and finds my posts. TRYING is the operative word here.

I had to get better tapes than the kit came with (3M 1" Micropore), some adhesive remover, skin protection/adhesive wipes...and I can finally get the tape stay ONE week if placed in a criss-cross pattern, which meant I had to shave a bit more hair from behind her hear than I really wanted to....

Ear Buddies website makes it sound like the tapes should stay on at least 2 wks, but at her age (now 6mos) there is NOOO way! When the tapes come loose (and she rips them clean off), I end up giving her a day off of taping because her ear is chapped behind it, & seems to itch like mad at times. I usually place the splint/tapes at night when she sleeps the deepest...and it takes me about an hour to get it right. I am disappointed that for the price one has to pay for the damn kit....that I had to shop elsewhere for the tapes/supplies to make the little silicone splint do what they say it will!

The whole process is tortuous to me (the voices in my mommy head say she's beautiful with or without the flop-ear & this stupid thing is itchy/causing a rash/irritation/HARM/unnecessary attention) but I actually think it may be WORKING?!

I know it requires persistence, especially at her age, and we still have 2 months of splint-wearing to go- which sounds awful with summer heat/sunscreen/etc! But, I can see progress each time we change the tapes. It may never be EXACTLY the same as the other ear, but the Ear Buddy splinting appears to be making it darn close! And...it IS keeping the protrusion from getting any worse, since she can't lay on it and fold it in half anymore.

I am getting more confident when people ask "what's wrong with her ear?" At first, I kept a large headband stationed over it...but now we go without more often. People ask, and I tell them. "Nothing's WRONG with it, but it does hang over a little like a puppy ear, so we are trying to mould the cartilage while it is still soft enough to do so". Some people think I'm nuts, but most realize there is potential to spare her future teasing & see it as no more aggressive than braces for teeth and certainly not as drastic as head-shaping helmets!

So- there's the update. Will let you know how it's going next month....Until then...more torture for mommy who's constantly trying to remind myself that she will never remember the itchy damn tapes, ear rash, or RUDE people asking "what's WRONG with her"...
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walkbyfaith



Joined: 03 Aug 2009
Posts: 499

PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm glad to hear that your daughter's ear may be responding to the ear buddy. Kudos to you for your patience, Mom!! :)

My oldest daughter was born without one of the muscles in her chin, so she has some paralysis on one side of her mouth. I've explained to her about it, and she thinks of it as her "special" chin. We could have had it surgically treated (like you, I detest saying "fixed" or "corrected" because there's nothing wrong with her!!) but since it is not a progressive condition (will not get worse) we've decided to leave the decision up to her when she's older. A few years ago I ran across a specialist online who helps kids learn to use other facial muscles to compensate for the underdeveloped muscle. I asked dd if she'd be interested in learning the techniques, and she said "No, Mom, I'm perfect just like I am." And that she is!!

I think it's great that you're trying non-surgical methods to help her ear for now. If they don't work, she may decide that she likes her ear just as it is. :)
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wyowyome



Joined: 01 Apr 2010
Posts: 319
Location: WY

PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, walkbyfaith, my plan is to give this "splinting" our best shot and if it doesn't work, the decision will be up to her as to whether or not she ever needs/wants it "fixed".

It is a minor enough issue that even without the splinting only a few notice...and once she gets hair (and I stop shaving it for the tapes!) it will be even more difficult to spot...but that's why I figure I might as well give the splinting a try incase it nudges that ear just enough to make it a never-issue.

If it were not to work, or the prominent ear were to become more noticeable, she might just end up learning to like it the way it is. If not, we will deal with it later (:

My little man has a funnel chest (dent in it) that seems to be getting a bit more apparent as he ages...we talked about it and he says it doesn't bother him, and I reassured him that he is just perfect the way he is! We won't do anything about it for cosmetic reasons (the surgery is drastic and painful- no tape splints here, lol). Besides, it makes him who he is!

These kids are just such miracles and beautiful just the way they are, that it's so unfortunate that society can ostracize them for such simple non-confomities of "normal". I hate that we parents are put in the position to worry for their social/mental health even a little because of trivial differences! I hate succumbing to it and buying the dumb ear splints...yet I do ): anyways. People can be cruel.

Good job to you for remembering the most important thing is to instill confidence and individuality in your daughter. I am sure she is BEAUTIFUL just the way she is!!
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