Microtia Ear Reconstruction Program

John Reinisch, MD is internationally renowned reconstructive surgeon who a pioneer in corrective surgery for the treatment of microtia. Microtia is a congenital ear deformity that can affect hearing. They also are highly regarded for their skill in reconstructive techniques for young patients with large or complex vascular and pigmented birthmarks, and cleft lip and palate correction.

Dr. Reinisch, Director of Craniofacial and Pediatric Plastic Surgery, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, use the MEDPOR® technique in treating microtia. This technique was first introduced in 1991 by Dr. Reinisch and enables children as young as three years of age to undergo the corrective surgery.

Treating Microtia

Treating microtia involves a multi-faceted approach to address this complex condition. Patients need coordination of the following:

  • Creating a realistic external ear: This is done by a specially trained craniofacial plastic surgeon
  • Improving the microtia patient's hearing: Hearing loss due to microtia is treated by an otolaryngologist, a physician specializing in conditions of the ear, nose and throat. An otologist has additional specialized surgical training for treatment of hearing abnormalities associated with microtia, including canal reconstruction (also called atresia repair) or surgically implanted hearing aids, such as the BAHA implant
  • Helping microtia patients with the psychological difficulties associated with "looking different": The psychosocial effects of a facial abnormality on a child, particularly those of school age, cannot be underestimated. Some families have benefited from a child psychologist to help learn the best way to deal with questions or teasing from others

There are three primary options for reconstructing a microtia patient's ear, each offering distinct advantages and disadvantages over the others. Understanding these differences, and selecting the appropriate procedure and medical team to perform them, is critical for these very young microtia patients.

  • MEDPOR® Ear Reconstruction: A synthetic material is used as a framework that is covered by the body's own tissue
  • Rib Cartilage Ear Reconstruction: Uses the patient's rib cartilage to create an ear that is covered by the body's own tissue
  • Silicone Prosthetic Ear: Sculpting an artificial "plastic ear" that attaches to the body either with an adhesive glue or with a device that is surgically implanted into bone (called an osseointegrated implant)

Resources at Cedars-Sinai