Earlobe repair is a reconstructive plastic surgery procedure to correct split, ripped, torn, drooping, stretched-out, or unusually large earlobes. While not often discussed in the media, it is one of the most common procedures performed by plastic surgeons. Atlanta plastic surgeon Dr. Mark Deutsch, MD, FACS, regularly provides earlobe repair to both men and women in the Atlanta area.
Reasons for an Earlobe Repair
People opt to have earlobe repairs for a variety of reasons. Some patients want to correct hereditary or congenital deformities; they may have been born with overly large or deformed earlobes and be very self-conscious about it.
More often, though, Dr. Deutsch performs this surgery to repair some damage to the earlobes. Because the earlobes are soft and pliable—they are mainly composed of skin and fat and have no cartilage—they are prone to tearing or becoming elongated over time. Usually, the damage is due to one of three primary causes:
Wearing very large or heavy pierced earrings.
Pierced earrings that are very large or heavy can pull on the earlobe, stretching the original ear-piercing hole. Habitually using large earrings can cause the tear to get longer and longer until it eventually splits the lobe down the middle. At the very least, the lobes can become droopy or stretched out. Having a piercing that’s close to the bottom of the earlobe can cause earrings to rip through the earlobe even more quickly. Additionally, the overall aging process, which causes almost all body tissues to sag, can also affect the earlobe, compounding the effects of prolonged heavy earring use.
Some people stretch their earlobes intentionally. Ear gauging, also known as earlobe stretching, is a type of body piercing that involves progressively increasing the size of an earlobe hole to accommodate increasingly larger earrings. The process starts with a standard ear piercing, and then after the lobe heals, a larger piece of circular jewelry is inserted. When that hole heals, a still larger piece of circular jewelry is inserted to stretch the hole some more, and so on, until the desired size hole is achieved.
Unfortunately, after the whole process is finished, some people eventually come to regret having it done. They may decide they no longer like the look, or perhaps stretched earlobes may interfere with their social or professional lives. These individuals may desire earlobe repair to have their “old” earlobes back.
Acute trauma or injury to the lobe.
When the earlobe is damaged suddenly, it’s usually due to some trauma. This type of injury could be caused by anything from a sports injury or getting an earring caught by a hairbrush or article of clothing to a baby or young child pulling on an adult’s earring. The result is a vertically-oriented tear, ripping the bottom portion of the earlobe into two parts.
Whatever the cause, a torn earlobe can be very painful, in addition to being unpleasant to look at and causing embarrassment for the injured individual. Not only that, some people may long to wear pierced earrings again and want the tear repaired for that reason. Fortunately, plastic surgeons like Dr. Deutsch can easily restore earlobes to their natural appearance through earlobe repair surgery.