Atlanta Plastic Surgeon Dr. Mark Mitchell Jones Believes Tissue Engineering Could Replace Rib Graft Technique in Ear Reconstruction Surgery for Microtia

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Dr. Mark Mitchell Jones of Atlanta Plastic Surgery Specialists is nationally recognized as a leader in reconstruction techniques due to congenital defects such as reconstruction ear surgery and microtia. Dr. Jones recently participated in a survey of plastic surgeons that reveals that the majority of practioners believe that new technologies in ear reconstruction are on the horizon.

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In October 2011 at the “Plastic Surgery 2011: American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Annual Meeting the survey results of a 20-item web based questionnaire were presented. The survey was sent to over 6,100 ASPS members in late 2010. The results confirmed that there is a long held bias in favor of autogenous ear reconstruction for microtia patients. Autogenous reconstruction refers to constructing an ear from patient’s own tissue as opposed to a prosthetic ear.

The survey also revealed that 56% of surgeons surveyed believe that there will be a “game-changing” product developed as the art of tissue engineering advances. There are very few surgeons that believe that any new innovation will emerge in alloplastic or any other prosthetic ear replacement product.

“I agree with the majority of plastic surgeons surveyed because I believe that tissue engineers will invent products in the next 12-15 years that will allow us to effectively rebuild the ears of children with congenital microtia, however I do believe that these technologies will not have a practical application for another 5 or 10 years beyond that,” explained Dr. Jones.

Even though the industry is looking at twenty plus years for a new developments to replace the rib graft technique as the gold standard in ear reconstruction, researchers continue to advance tissue engineering at an amazing pace and most plastic surgeons surveyed believe that a radical new development that will emerge eventually.

While the most well-known experiment involving tissue engineering involves growing a human ear on the back of a mouse, other advances in progress include tissue engineered “skin” which is already FDA approved to aid burn victims. In the not too distant future, tissue engineered bone and cartilage, vascular and muscular tissue and valves could help millions of patients.

Dr. Mark Mitchell Jones has performed rib cartilage grafts on 300 microtia patients. This vast experience along with his dual board certification in plastic surgery and otolaryngologist (ENT), make him uniquely qualified to not only create not only an aesthetically pleasing ear but also enhance the functionality of the body.

“I believe the future of microtia reconstruction lies in tissue engineering not alloplastic techniques. Plastic ears have significant drawbacks that living tissue, autogenous or in the future, engineered tissue do not. The significant benefit of engineered tissue in microtia will be the reduction of surgery required to complete the process," said Dr. Jones.

Currently, standard rib graft technique surgery for ear reconstruction by Dr. Jones is usually done in four stages. Only the first stage for the actual rib graft procedure requires hospitalization, but when you include the three subsequent procedures and allow time for healing, the entire process of ear reconstruction can take 9 months to a year. Since this procedure is generally performed on children between 5-7 years old, reducing the number of surgeries, healing time and discomfort is important to parents, patients and their physicians.

Dr. Jones believes that parents of children with microtia need to choose the right doctor, the first time. The first microtia repair surgery is always the best chance to get the best results. If you have to go to a second doctor to fix a poorly reconstructed ear, it will take the best doctor with superior skills because he must focus on correction first and then creating the optimal ear for the patient.

“You want someone who is experienced in not only carving out the cartilage and designing the new ear, but also someone who can do it quickly, efficiently and highly effectively. To create an ear from rib cartilage takes a very precise aesthetic sense and extreme dexterity and the experience to make adjustments during the surgical process,” explained Dr. Jones.
Many parents ask Dr. Jones about synthetic or prosthetic ears. Dr. Jones believes that his method is a superior approach because the body will not reject the patient’s own tissue (from the rib cartilage). Also any implant can be physically inconvenient, cumbersome and is liable to be exposed to addition trauma from sports or other children. Also most otologists will not operate for the hearing part on a synthetic ear implant because of the potential for complications.

To date Dr. Jones expertise has led him to develop several improvements to the sculpted rib graft technique. These include the ICG (Integrated Cartilage Graft), the WAE (Wrap¬¬-Around Ear), JE (Juxaposition Ear), and the BE (Bespoke Ear). Each of these specialized techniques was developed by Dr. Jones to address certain reconstruction issues and positively impact his young patients’ quality of life.

While tissue engineering advances may still be a few decades off for microtia patients needing ear reconstruction, plastic surgeons such as Dr. Jones have the education, training and experience necessary to provide these young patients with the most realistic looking and functional ear possible today.

About Dr. Jones

Dr. Jones earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia after obtaining a Bachelor’s degree from Emory University in Chemistry and Pre-Med. He attended the University of Canterbury in New Zealand for Medical Business Administration and Oxford University in England where he obtained an additional Bachelors & Master’s degree in Medical Physiology and Research. Dr. Jones returned to the U.S. and did his residency at John Hopkins University in ENT and Facial Plastic Reconstructive Surgery. Dr. Jones completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Plastic Surgery in Paris, France and completed a second Residency in Plastic Surgery at Stanford University. He then was tutored for one year by Dr. Bert Brent in microtia in California.

Dr. Jones has the unique distinction of holding dual board certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat; ENT) and over 20 years of experience. This makes him uniquely qualified to not only enhance the aesthetic, but also the natural functionality of the body.

Dr. Mark Mitchell Jones of Atlanta Plastic Surgery Specialists is located at 2001 Peachtree St. N.E. Suite 630, Atlanta, GA 30309. He can be reached at 404-355-3566 or online at

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