What is Macrotia?


Children often have large ears. Some times they grow into them and their features become more proportional. Other times, their ears remain large and disproportionate. Think of adults like President Barak Obama. His large ears are often emphasized in caricatures because they are still so prominent.


If ears reach a certain size that is significantly larger than the average ear size, however, this is an actual condition called macrotia. Usually found in children, it is a symptom of other medical conditions, and gives children unusually large ears. If a child has macrotia, he or she will probably want to receive otoplasty at some point in time to reduce the size of their ears and pin them back closer to the head.


But What Causes Macrotia?

As previously mentioned, macrotia is associated with a number of medical conditions. These include:

  • Borjeson-Forssman-Lehmann Syndrome. This is a severe but rare genetic disorder that causes extreme mental impairment and diminished function of the testes or ovaries.
  • Fragile X Syndrome. This is a common form of mental retardation. While the symptoms vary in severity, it is genetically inherited.
  • Trichorhinophalangeal Syndrome Type 2. This is a rare genetic condition that affects the bones and facial features. The person will often suffer from bony growths, extremely large features (hence the large ears), and loose excess skin.
  • Melnick-Needles Syndrome. Another rare bone disorder, it makes sense that this would affect facial features and the ears.


There are about 9 other specific syndromes or disorders that can cause macrotia, most of them being genetic inheritances or mutations. They almost all involve mental or physical disorders. One of them, the Hemi 3 syndrome, causes certain parts of the body to grow abnormally large and quickly.


Does It Need Treatment?

Just like many other types of plastic surgery, otoplasty is almost never necessary, at least not for physical reasons. However, it could be emotionally necessary for you or your child if they are being teased about their big ears all the time. However, if they are also suffering from one of the serious disorders mentioned above, surgery might not be a viable option. Talk to your general physician and plastic surgeon for more information.

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