The Stahl ear deformity occurs when an extra crease or fold is present in the cartilage of the ear. This extra fold extends through to the helical rim and tends to give the ear a prominent appearance and often a pointed shape. Some people have described the ear as looking elfish.
If detected in the first 1-2 months of life, the Stahl deformity can be treated effectively with ear molding. If not caught in the first two months of life, the treatment for Stahl’s ear is to have a surgery.
The cartilage of the ear is very soft and weak before age five, so we usually wait until after five years of age to let the cartilage strengthen and increase the chance that the otoplasty will be successful.
Other considerations in terms of timing for surgery for Stahl ear deformity includes the patient’s ability to be cooperative with the care required after surgery and the presence or absence of teasing from peers. In general we advocate for performing reconstruction of all ear deformities before any issues with teasing arise. The ideal time for this surgery is any time after 5 years of age, typically between 5-7 years old. The incidence of teasing increases significantly after age 7.
In this surgery the extra crease is completely excised from the ear and the ear is often further reshaped with stitches placed in the cartilage of the ear. The incision is closed with dissolvable stitches. A recovery time of 1-2 weeks is needed to return to usual daily activities such as going to school.