Hi I am a 24 year old girl who was born with severe Microtia meaning I am missing my right ear. I've had a prosthetic for approximately years 15 years now, AMA!
My prosthetic is easily removable and I only wear it when I leave my house. I had the operation for the prosthetic when I was 7 and have been going to the doctors yearly ever since Picture Proof
Edit: This is how it looks when on day to day
Edit 2: It's 3am now so I have to sleep but I will answer any more questions in the morning!
Edit 3: This is a Clearer Picture of how it looks without the prosthetic on
Unfortunately not! I have had people suggest I leave it in a room to listen in to conversations and honestly I wish it worked like that lol
Do you have trouble discerning the directionality of sounds?
Like, if I hear a bird chirp in a tree, I can turn around and look directly at the bird because I heard where it was.
With significant hearing loss one on side, do you still have that ability?
I 100% struggle with this! To the point it annoys my partner because I'm constantly asking where sounds are coming from. However if its a loud sound such as machinery I can usually tell by turning my head and listening whether it gets louder when I point my left ear in that direction.
So even though you lack an ear, what music do you listen to?
Oh don't judge but I mostly listen to trashy pop because it makes me want to dance! I also am really liking Blur a lot at the moment
Interesting, how do you feel about 2000's alternative?
Tbh I'm not very well versed in alternative 00s. I was brought up with a dad who listens to a lot of African music so I listen to that and pop pretty much
African music is lit! Do you ever listen to Bollywood? Most of my African friends love it and it’s excellent to dance to
I can't say I've ever tried Bollywood music! Is there any you would recommend?
African music? How unique and different is it to tradtional pop?
It's very good and makes me want to dance, I've been lucky enough to have seen a lot live and its even better in person. I'd recommend N'toman by Ambassador International which is my favourite
I’ve been wondering if you lose the ear, can you still hear? I’m 15, so ik it sounds dumb.
No it isn't dumb! I had tests as a baby and they guessed I've lost approximately 20%-30% hearing on my right side. I still have the same ear just no canal/outer ear. If i wear headphones I can hear on that side vaguely but it gives me a headache almost instantly
Have you tried bone conductor headphones?
Quality is never great on those but honestly would be better than nothing for 3D audio
I haven't tried. It isn't something I've ever really looked into because I'm content with my hearing as it is
Any reason as to why it causes you to have a headache? And also, GOD bless you! Your a champ!
I'm not sure but my own theory it could be because of the vibrations. Like my inner ear on that side isnt used to receiving much sound so if I put a headphone on it directly and have it loud enough to hear its probably more vibration than it can handle and results in a headache. This is only my assumption though!
Wow.. That makes sense to me.. Thanks for answering my question.. I wish you the best in life!!
What is the best prank you have pulled on someone who didn’t realise you had a prosthetic ear?
I think my favourite was when I was being hassled in the playground at age 9. When she hit me I pulled it off and told her shed broken my ear off. She went pale and ran off crying it was great. Another funny time was when I accidentally left it in a swimming pool changing room, that made for an interesting phone call
Do you wear earrings on the prosthetic?
I don't because I don't have my other ear pierced. I have been tempted to pierce it but because I have no feeling in it I wouldn't be able to tell if it fell out/got caught in my hair so I think it would end up annoying
Is your missing ear only like your outer ear, or also the inner ear? Do you only have hearing on the left ear?
The doctors say I still have the inner ear but there's no ear canal or outer ear so I can still kind of hear but it's very unclear and I get a headache quickly if I wear headphones with sound on the right side
How are you feeling with your new ear so far?
I get a new one every two years, I've had this one for approximately a year and am not a big fan because the skintone match isnt as good as usual but I'll be getting a new one soon!
What’s the reasoning behind getting them replaced so often once you’re a fully grown person?
The prosthetic gradually loses its colour and can get a bit worn. I could technically keep it for years and it would still attach to my head it just would look kind of weird to have a super pale ear not match my skin
How does this condition affect the range of tones you can hear (high, mids, lows)? Will the prosthetic improve that?
I had to look it up but apparently the starman himself, Paul Stanley, has this. I guess they constructed the ear using his own cartridge. But what's more fascinating is how wide his singing register (well, if you listen to KISS it's fascinating)
I don't think it affects my hearing range as I have good hearing on my left side. I have noticed though that if I wear headphones with sound on the right, i get a worse headache if its high pitched. The prosthetic is purely for aesthetic reasons. There is a procedure where you can have one made from cartilidge however that was rare when I was younger and a harder procedure than what I had so my parents didn't want to put me through that
Was it difficult to adjust to the prosthetic??
I don't remember it too well because I was quite young I just remember enjoying having 3 weeks off school. I don't remember it being difficult but I do remember the first time we went on holiday after I'd had it done we didn't think about the fact that metal gets hot. I was in the pool without the prosthetic on and the metal got super hot in the sun which hurt like a bitch obviously because it's connected to my skull! Other than that I think it was more remembering to actually put it on that I had to get used to
I’ve read that there is a surgical procedure that involves making an ear canal, is it possible in your case?
Oh I haven't heard about this! I think now that I've gone through the procedure to get the prosthetic connections in my skull and have lived with it for so long I wouldn't want to have another surgery, especially because I imagine they'd had to take all the metal out of me which doesn't sound too fun. In all honesty being hard of hearing on one side has its perks like sleeping on my left ear means I don't hear loud noises haha
Do you have any balance issues? Or are you missing just the external portion of the ear? Are you deaf on that side? (since it seems to be sealed by skin)
To my knowledge I don't have any balance issues because I still have the inner ear. I'm not completely deaf but my hearing is definitely bad and I struggle when people are talking to the right of me
Interesting! So just the outer portion of the ear is effected? Would something like a cochlear implant work for you or some sort of hearing aid? Or is it just one of those things you deal with? How does the prosthetic stick, do you use like a glue or tape or is it like, suction cupped on?
A hearing aid wouldn't work but I've heard cochlear implants are good however because it doesn't affect me too much with my communication with others I'm not too bothered by it. The prosthetic has clips that clip onto a metal bar connected to my head kid of like a press stud. You can get ones where its just glued on everyday however they aren't very good
Do you have to change the bar at all?
Would magnets be a better solution somehow?
They change the bar every time I get a new prosthetic so about every two years but I'm not sure why they do that, I'll ask next time I go! I think magnets are also an option but I think they also fall off quite regularly
Neat! I'm learning so many interesting things! So your ear is kind of like a barrette in a way?
I guess you could thing of it that way yeah! I've always just thought of it more as a press stud because neither the bar or the prosthetic clips bend
Is your condition hereditary or is it a one time birth defect? Also, if someone whispers something to you on the right side can you understand what is being said?
It can be hereditary but not in my case. There isnt much information as to what causes it but we were told it could either be because my mum smoked during pregnancy (this was back in the day in working class Britain so I don't judge her) or because when I was forming i had my 'arm' over where my ear should have formed so it couldn't work but really noone knows. I could probably understand if they whispered a very simple sentence slowly but otherwise probably not
I was born with microtia as well, on my right side. When I was 12, a local hospital offered to do plastic reconstruction surgery for free. Doctors gave me two options for reconstruction 1. the prosthetic like the one you have 2. or reconstruction with live cartilage tissue from my ribcage. I took the latter, because they told me with the prosthetic I had to redo the surgery after 5 years to adjust the mounting points as my head grew. Did you have to do a second surgery for yours?
What year did you have your surgery? As far as I'm aware it was offered as an option but was still very new at the time this would have been back in like 2003ish and nope I've never had to have another surgery regarding it and noones ever said I need to. The only procedure I've had to have was when I got an infection they had to clean it all out but that wasn't a surgery
Thanks for the reply. I had my surgery in 2001, I guess they changed the procedure?
Not sure if I made the right choice with mine. My reconstructed ear had shrunk over the years, so the right side is noticeably smaller than my left. Also have trouble sleeping on my right side and can't put too much pressure on it or else it hurts. And I'm pretty sure they left a steel stitching inside there because I can feel something sharp near the surface. If I could choose again, probably should had went with the prosthetic...or maybe not had the procedure done at all.
I'm sorry to hear that! If it makes you feel any better my prosthetic gets knocked off quite often so can be annoying too
Ever have anyone else hold it and say to it “hey, what’s going on? Can you hear me?” while you are tied to a chair?
I haven't unfortunately haha closest I get is just asking people to pass me my ear, that usually gets a chuckle
I'm surprised no one has asked yet, but how do you wear glasses?
Luckily I've never had to wear glasses apart from sunglasses but it is a pain. Because of the way the prosthetic is, the back of it is higher up than a regular ear so glasses can end up wonky on me which is annoying
Have you dressed up as Van Gogh for Halloween?
I haven't but now you've given me ideas
Did it bother you much as a kid, make you feel different?
It did bother me as a kid, more so in high school because I was super insecure. One time I forgot to put it on and only realised when I was on the bus so had to hold my hair down all day which wasn't fun but I'm glad that now as an adult it doesn't bother me much, i honestly think it has more perks than negatives haha
What color is your toothbrush?
Mine's pink too!!
Basically anything I can buy in pink, i do!
Do you have prosthetics to match your summer and winter skin tone?
No I only get one but seeing as I live in England I don't tan much anyway with our summer's. I have recently started using faketan though which is a bit annoying as it doesn't match, i tend to just put a little foundation on the prosthetic
Ever try different coloured ones for fun?
I haven't but my doctor said she gets requested elf ears sometimes!
Can we see what it looks like without the prosthetic?
I've just added a third picture which is much clearer to see
Thanks, it's quite interesting to see. Have you ever had someone react negatively to seeing you without the prosthesis?
No I don't think so. I'm always nervous to tell romantic partners but I've never met anyone that is really bothered by it I think people are more curious than grossed out. Most negative thing I get is my partner complaining the bar digs into his shoulder if I lean on him haha
Yeah my first reaction was also curiosity but I'm glad it doesn't cause any problems in that regard.
Might sound a bit of an odd q but did you ever have a negative experience with your medical team surrounding it? Just ask because I wanna make sure that if I come across something similar I don't misstep without realising. Anything from an offhand comment from a nurse to a doctor inviting other people to have a look without discussing it first.
I haven't but of course I was born with it so it's possible people gawked or came to look when they realised. As far as I'm aware the medical team were great when I was a baby and even set my parents up with sign-language classes incase it turned out I was fully deaf. I received speech therapy as a child as apparently when I started talking I spoke like 'a deaf person' so slurring words or not enunciating things correctly. My medical team has always been great and I'm very lucky to have them especially for free as I live in England. I think the only annoying this is it isn't on my medical record so I have to constantly bring it up at the GP
I could discern from other comments that you have a regular inner ear, so how come a hole wasn't made to improve your hearing on that side?
As far as I'm aware I don't have an ear canal but I do have all the other bits so I guess making a hole wouldn't make much sense. To be honest I'm not entirely sure as my parents made the decision for me for this procedure but I don't think it was ever offered as an option
Do you have trouble knowing from which direction sounds come from?
Yes im not very good at telling the directions of quieter or one off sounds. If its a continuous loud sound I can usually tell by turning my head and seeing if it gets louder when I point my left ear in that direction
Dumb question round:
1) When wearing a hat, do you tuck the ear under a hat or over it?
2) Have you ever thought you misplaced your ear, kept looking and only after an embarrassingly long time realised it’s still attached?
3) Most comfy headphones?
4) You mentioned the attachments(?) heat up. Is it a problem in showers, saunas?
5) Metal detectors?
There are no dumb questions! The ear isnt flexible so I can't 'tuck' it so if its a woolly hat I can wear it over but if its a firm hat i put it above my ears. That happens often but it isn't long before I realise because I'm so used to it! Its very common for me to touch my ear with my shoulder to see if I'm wearing the prosthetic or not haha and I have a pair of beats headphones which are comfy enough but it's more comfortable to use earphones
My friends daughter was born with same condition.
She has some actual ear that is folded- did you also? Obviously they removed if so.... was that scary? She’s 8 now, and hasn’t had any surgery. I don’t press, it’s not up to me.
I had a very small flap of skin when I was born but not enough to resemble anything like an ear so they removed it when i had the surgery. It wasn't too scary but afterwards I threw up blood because obviously the ear and throat are connected but I think that was more scary for my parents tbh
What does it look like?
There's two pictures in my text post which show how it looks when it isn't on and how it looks day to day with the prosthetic :)
With no outer ear how does the prosthetic attach?
I have two metal studs in my skull that come out of my skin. Onto that there's a metal bar screwed on (which can be easily unscrewed to remove) and the prosthetic has plastic clips that clip onto the bar, kind of like a press stud.
What do you clean it with?
I usually just use water because the skin is quite sensitive and then I use q tips to clean under the bar. Occasionally ill unscrew the metal bar and give a good clean but my doctor says I shouldn't do that too often
Is there anything you struggle with and other people could be more mindful about/help in some way?
I think just staying to my left because otherwise I struggle but everyone in my life does that anyway. I've had partners say it feels really weird to walk on the right of someone after they've been with me. Other than that I guess just not hitting my head because it can get knocked off but not many people do that anyway thankfully!
Weirdest place you've lost or forgotten your ear?
I've left it in a swimming baths changing room before and we had to ring them once we realised which was definitely a funny conversation. Other than that I lose it at least once a week down the side of the sofa or under the bed etc. Once my cat stole it and decided it was a great new toy. I also once accidentally lost it for 3 days and found it in the bottom of my handbag, I really should learn to be more careful tbh lol
Has anyone ever asked you to lend them an ear, providing you the perfect opportunity to reanact this scene from Robin hood men in tights?
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