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Prominent ears: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About prominent ears (bat ears)

Prominent ears as the name suggests is a condition affecting the physical appearance of ears, making them look prominent. The rim of the ear normally is 1-2 cm from the scalp, but in a person who has prominent ears or bat ears, this distance is more denoting abnormally prominent ears. This is mostly a congenital condition, present since birth.

Prominent ears (bat ears): Incidence, age and sex

Prominent ears are not quite a common occurrence. The condition is present right from birth and quite apparent right from the very beginning. Both genders are equally affected.

Signs and symptoms of prominent ears (bat ears): Diagnosis

One or both ears may be affected by this condition; however in most cases, only one ear is affected. There may be a missing or a poorly developed cartilage fold, resulting in prominent ears. Alternatively, there may be an excessively deep ear-well (concha), causing prominence of the ear. Also, the increased angle between back of the ear and the side of the head may also lead to this condition. The condition results in a slightly distorted facial appearance and can be easily diagnosed at birth.

Causes and prevention of prominent ears (bat ears)

Prominent ears are due to lack of adequate folding of the ear cartilage during the intrauterine growth of baby i.e. when the baby is developing inside the mother’s uterus. The reason for this is not known, but this condition generally has a familial tendency.

Prominent ears (bat ears): Complications

The hearing is normal except in very rare cases when the hearing may get impaired. Psychological and emotional problems may be seen in affected individuals due to physical disfigurement and teasing by others. This may also result in loss of self-confidence.

Prominent ears (bat ears): Treatment

The treatment of prominent ears includes both surgical and non-surgical modalities. In the first few weeks of life the cartilage of the infant’s ear is soft, and thus can be moulded by repeated application of pressure (through splint) from outside. This may lead to its re-shaping eventually. The splint needs to be worn continuously for several weeks, till the correction is achieved. But as the child becomes older, his/her cartilage stiffens and the duration of application of splint needs to be longer. After six months of birth, this technique is not quite effective and a surgical correction is often required, which is usually done after 5 years of age.