Ear reconstruction offers restricted options in terms of non-invasive procedures. Most ear reconstructions are done via surgical intervention wherein a plastic surgeon reconstructs the ear using skin flaps, grafts and implants. The few non-invasive alternatives to ear reconstruction have been described below:
Use of Prosthesis
One handy alternative to surgical ear reconstruction is the use of ear prosthesis. Most of the prostheses in this niche are slip-on type models that can be easily secured over the ear. The slip-on prostheses are popular since they don't use adhesives. The use of adhesives was common among the traditional prosthesis wherein regular gluing was needed, often leading to skin rashes and other allergic reactions.
The use of prosthesis is seen among people who are suffering from underdeveloped ears or microtia. However, some of the contemporary models have been specifically designed for people who have a substantial (almost entire) part of the ear missing, called anotia.
Prosthetic ear restoration is more common among children and among people who are apprehensive about undergoing ear reconstructive surgeries. In terms of cost, prostheses are invariably cheaper than surgeries at the outset but they put forth recurring costs and don't offer a permanent solution.
Prostheses can be customized to a great extent, depending upon the preferences of the patient. This includes styling and comfort-based alterations to the original design. Ear prostheses have also been used for partial ear reconstructions. This is when a part of the outer ear is damaged during a traumatic accident. Here, the prosthesis is manipulated to fit along the missing part of the ear.
People who have medical conditions like overtly-developed ears, cup ears or Stahl's ear have another alternative besides prosthesisﾗear molds. These molds are fitted along the existing skin and cartilage structure of the ear using methylmethacrylate glue along with dental compounds.
Please note that these molds aren't similar to the conventional glued form of prosthesis. These are much lighter, shapely-looking and easy-to-fix molds that help to create the impression of a natural ear. Further, the glues and compounds used here for fixing the molds are already used in various surgical applications and thus, present negligible problems.
Unlike a prosthesis which requires a rather small period of initial adjustment, ear molds often need repeated visits to the attending specialist to ensure that the mold is shaped in the most convenient manner. Sometimes, ear molds are used as a method of preventing a genetic malformation in the shape of the ear. Here, the ear mold is worn for a few years to ensure that the developing ear is directed into the proper shape.
A very recent alternative to surgical ear reconstruction that is yet to become a mainstream option is Incisionless Otoplasty. It has a limited usage wherein it is more suited for people with protruding or highly-developed ears. These malformed ears are re-shaped through an undemanding outpatient procedure that uses a special kind of surgical stitching called Percutaneous Retention Stitches.
These stitches are strategically placed to correct the shape of the ear. The patient doesn't need to wear surgical dressings or take leave from work or school to undergo this treatment. There are no incisions and no fear of infection of sutures, making the post-operative period remarkably unproblematic.