Half-grown ear, recommendations on how to make it "normal" appreciated.
August 27, 2011 8:30 PM   Subscribe

I have an half-grown right ear. Any recommendations on how to "fix" it?

I was born with an half-grown right ear. I'm 25 and Deaf, and it's still unknown if the cause of my Deafness is related to my right ear or not.

For years, I have loved and accepted my right ear as part of who I am, but I'm just tired of my right ear now. It draws unnecessary attention from people, and the repeated questions are getting old. I want to start fresh with my life and just move on. For that to happen, I want to be able to "fix" my right ear. Any suggestions on how to do this (surgery? some kind of clip-on? and so forth) would be incredibly helpful.

For the record, before any of you ask, I don't have Down's Syndrome, I don't have any other disabilities other than my Deafness, and if it weren't for my right ear, I would be "normal-looking."

Here's a link to a picture of me with my right ear, to give you a better idea.

Again, thanks!
posted by dubious_dude to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
If it's something that you think will be helpful to your self-esteem, then a cosmetic surgeon would be the first person to call. If for nothing else, s/he'd be someone who would know many of the options available.
posted by xingcat at 8:37 PM on August 27, 2011

This really needs to be something that you talk to a physician about.
posted by tomswift at 8:37 PM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

I went to camp* with a girl who had a magnetic ear. It was the coolest thing. One of her ears never fully formed, and it both didn't work (deaf in that ear) and was I guess only partially formed. Apparently, after she had gone through puberty and her doctor was satisfied her face had stopped changing shape, she had the partially-formed ear removed and a prosthetic made. The prosthetic was awesome. She had magnet snaps implanted under her skin, and there were magnets in the prosthetic (which was made of silicone or something that really looked (and felt!) like an ear), and every morning she'd just wake up and snap it on. You could only tell it was fake by being right up on it and seeing the seam.

And that was nearly ten years ago now, so I'm sure there have been even more strides made. I guess you'd want to go see a plastic/reconstructive surgeon for something like this. Good luck!

*It was a nerd camp for kids interested in medicine and surgery, so it totally wasn't a weird thing that we spent so much time talking about her ear. In case people were wondering.
posted by phunniemee at 8:40 PM on August 27, 2011 [13 favorites]

First consult with an otolaryngologist and have him/her recommend a surgeon who can discuss the options with you. This might not be a purely aesthetic matter, given that you have deafness. That's why you should definitely talk to an otolaryngologist, who is liable to know a lot more about such cases and is in the best position to advise you. Simply popping on over to a plastic surgeon is not optimal IMHO. First stop: otolaryngologist.
posted by VikingSword at 8:45 PM on August 27, 2011

Yes, there are prosthetic ears, and yes, cosmetic surgery would most likely also be an option. I had multiple cosmetic surgeries, up until my teen years, and learned rather quickly that, at least in my case, my deformity wasn't the reason I was unhappy. My surgeries were successful (marginally so), but I learned that I couldn't get others to accept me until I had accepted myself for the way I was.
posted by brownrd at 8:46 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, I once knew a fellow who'd lost an ear -- sliced off with a knife in a fight in a pub parking lot, yikes -- and one was reconstructed for him, little by little over many surgeries, using tissue taken largely from his buttocks.
posted by kmennie at 9:15 PM on August 27, 2011

I saw a documentary about individuals in South Ameria who had been kidnapped and their ears cut off as part of the ransom process. Several got plastic surgery using some sort of cartilage taken from another part of their body. The results were amazing. Apparently they felt hard, but they looked totally natural. So yes I believe you would have options, but you may need to search to find a plastic surgeon that specializes in ears.
posted by whoaali at 10:41 PM on August 27, 2011

If cost is an issue, I know of a program in NYC where you can get cosmetic surgery and you only have to pay for the hospital, not the surgeon. I think that an ear nose throat person might be a good idea as mentioned above (I don't really know) but if you're interested I can send you the info; There might be a similar program in DC as well.

I understand getting tired of a physical issue like that, I'm sick of my broken nose which is why I've done the research on the cheaper options. :)
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:18 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, you can definitely get a prosthetic ear made. Example: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/gallery/070321/GAL-07Mar21-68857/index.html?hpid=multimedia1&hpv=national
posted by pinksoftsoap at 11:53 PM on August 27, 2011

Paul Stanley of Kiss was born with Level 3 Mircrotia; that's partly why he started wearing his hair long as a kid. He has since had it surgically reconstructed somewhat; you can see the results in this interview.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:21 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

The condition you need to google is microtia

There are different grades, and yours looks like grade three.

The article linked above talks about reconstruction options, which can be very expensive 50-100k.

Deafness - can mean a lot, going by the odds, I will internet advise you to look at a BAHA

Good luck, I will follow the thread, and may be able to answer more questions.
posted by dripped at 2:25 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would consult with a plastic surgeon. Plastic surgeons actually overwhelmingly specialise in reconstructive surgery, and not cosmetic surgery. You are very well situated in DC for top-class care; note that Georgetown has a reconstructive surgery service as part of their Otolaryngology department. I'd start there.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:58 AM on August 28, 2011

Lots of good answers here. I just want to agree that it can definitely be repaired. We do a lot of that sort of thing where I work and generally a plastic surgeon and otolaryngologist both evaluate the patient, especially if there are other ear problems that can be addressed with the goal of improving hearing. So it probably doesn't matter which specialist you see first; you will be pointed in the right direction as your workup progresses.
posted by TedW at 1:14 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

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