Saturday, October 22, 2011

The "missing link" picture nails it: "Ruffles" was simply Trig before his ears were fixed

Two astute readers (colacarat and search4m0re) made the suggestion that I put a picture of Trig from Frank Bailey's book into my lineup showing Trig's ears. So let's do that. Here are the three original pictures we will use: first, the ruffled ear baby from the Kristan Cole party in May 2008:

Next, the Bailey book picture of Trig later in May, which is the "missing link" photo:

Finally, Willow holding Trig in November 2008 at the vice presidential candidates debate:

Now here are the ears from those three photos, all rotated to a similar upright position:

With the first two pictures, the top halves of the ears make the case they are the same: there is an unusual double notch in the rear, plus each ear displays the same odd shape in the top half of the helix, which looks like four distinct planes joined together. With the second and the third pictures, it's the bottom halves of the ears that make the case: the very distinctive central shape, almost like a leaning heart, plus the batwing shape below that. (Note the two photos were shot are at very different angles – one much more from the front – resulting in perspective-related differences in those shapes from one photo to the next.) 

Let me also direct your attention to the very bottom of the ear in each photo. In the first photo you can just make out a piece of skin curling over the edge of the blanket, but it looks floppy and elongated. In the second picture, you can see how the skin has been shaped to look almost normal, although it comes to a point. In the third picture, Trig's shirt partially obscures the ear lobe, but you can make out enough to see the similarity to the lobe in the second picture.

Of course, the ears in the three pictures are NOT identical. That's the point. The middle photo shows the transitional shape of the ear halfway between the first and third photos.

The progression from the first picture to the second picture probably happened within two weeks. If begun early in infancy, good results in reconstructing malformed ears can be achieved in less than a month. And in fact, infancy is absolutely the best time to do it.

One of the leading technologies being used for ear reconstruction, the Earwell Infant Ear Correction System, is described here, in case you’d like to read about it:

Good results have also been achieved with Ear Buddies splints:

There are plastic surgeons in the United States who advertise that they will use these products in reconstructing the ears of neonates.

I'm sure some people will disagree, but I'm over 99 percent sure that's the same ear. The the similarities simply cannot be due to chance.


  1. Once again, it would probably help your case if you were to clarify that the treatment is non-surgical, even if it is done by a plastic surgeon.

    It doesn't look like it requires a lot of medical expertise, to be honest, just adhesive tape and some sort of rigid form to hold the ear in place. Oh, that and a good idea of what the ear should look like when you are done, which is where having a plastic surgeon put it on might be helpful...

    The site has lots of information, including a video of the application of their system. (Which, although probably not available commercially in 2008, gives a pretty good indication of how the method works in general.)

  2. I also put this on the previous post:

    @ Ghostbuster and Brad-- I goofed, the Earwell site says that if the Earmolds(not surgery) are not started when the child is 1 week old, the success rate goes down to 50% or less.

    So I will ask my question again-- Brad, do you think that little Ruffles had the ear molds starting when he was a week old??? Because I simply don't think that would have been possible based on the photos we've seen.
    October 22, 2011 5:11 PM

  3. PalinPeytonPlace merged Ruffles and Trig ears:

  4. B: Bingo! I did not realize that. Gee, I'll do a post later giving credit to ... ? Who would have done that graphic? Geez. Her graphic is so convincing.

  5. conscious at last: the Earwell process has to start before cartilage in ear begins to harden; in the case of a preemie, the one-week start time presumably would not apply – more likely you would not need to start until the baby would have been full term or shortly after. Contact the Earwell folks and ask, if you like.

  6. @Prof. Scharlott. She comments occasionally as Next Chapter. Her website/blog is, but unfortunately she posts only a few times a year.

    I recall she decided Ruffles/Trig had minor ear surgery but that there were still two different babies shown at the RNC, and speculated they might be twins.

  7. B: The twins idea is quite fascinating. I don't see any way to exclude it as a possibility, but it seems like a long shot.

  8. Brad, I agree. The whole two babies thing was disturbing to me, but not useful to the proof of the real story: Sarah faked a pregnancy. Of course, to me that has been proved, making the real story the reckless GOP and media silence.

  9. Brad, a bit of biology here- the cartilage in a newborn's ear remains soft due to the presence of high levels of estrogen. As maternal estrogen dissapates, the cartilage firms up. So a preemie would not necessarily have a longer window than a full-term baby.

    That said, the window definitely seems to be much wider than one week. Check the faq on the earbuddies site for their timetable; they claim correction in as little as two weeks for those started at one week old, one month for splintage for babies started at one month, and so on. Of course I would imagine that the actual time needed would vary considerably depending on the particularities of each case.