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. Mark Deutsch, MD, FACS, regularly provides earlobe repair to both men and women in the Atlanta area.

Reasons for an Earlobe Repair

earlobe repair heavy earringsPeople opt to have earlobe repair 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 type of 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 the tissues of the body to sag, can also affects the earlobe, compounding the effects of prolonged heavy earring use.

Gauging.

earlobe repair gauged earsSome people stretch their earlobes intentionally. Ear gauging, also known as earlobe stretching, is a type of body piercing which 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 sort of 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.

The earlobe repair procedure
An earlobe repair is an outpatient procedure, performed in Dr. Deutsch’s office. He starts the surgery by injecting local anesthesia into the ear lobe to numb the area. To make the repair, there are a number of different techniques that can be utilized. Which one is used depends on the severity of the damage. If it is only a partial tear, it may be a relatively simple matter of removing the damaged portion of the skin, and then using small sutures to stitch the remaining skin back together into a natural shape.

If it is a total lobe tear, or if the lobes have been severely stretched or gauged, more extensive surgery will be necessary. This may involve “rearranging” healthy tissue from the earlobe to replace damaged tissue and “redesign” the earlobe. With cases of extreme ear gauging, there may be little tissue to work with, so when the procedure is finished, the ear lobes may appear shorter than they were before the ear gauging (although the shape will still appear more natural).

An earlobe repair generally takes between 15 minutes to an hour for perform, depending on the severity of the damage. It is a relatively pain-free procedure. Most patients are able to drive themselves home immediately afterwards.

earlobe repair results

Earlobe repair aftercare
Once the surgery has been completed, a bandage or surgical dressing will be placed on the earlobes to prevent infection, minimize swelling and bruising, and maintain their new shape. This dressing will need to remain on the earlobes for several days after the procedure.

No downtime is required, and most patients are able to return to their normal activities almost immediately. However, there may be some minor pain, swelling or discomfort during the first few days following earlobe repair. Over-the-counter pain medication (ibuprofen or acetaminophen) may be used to manage discomfort.

Results
It will take 6 to 8 weeks for the swelling to go down completely and for the ear lobes to fully heal. At this time, the final results can then be seen: the earlobes will appear symmetrical and natural, and have a “normal” contour. Scarring will be minimal.

After two or three months, the ears may be re-pierced, if desired. However, the repaired lobes will now be weaker than they were before the earlobe repair, making them more susceptible to tearing. For that reason, very large or heavy earrings should not be worn; smaller earrings are recommended. There is the possibility that revisionary surgery may be needed in the future.

Learn more about earlobe repair
If you are considering an earlobe repair surgery, contact Perimeter Plastic Surgery to book a complimentary consultation with Atlanta earlobe repair surgeon, Dr. Mark Deutsch. During your consultation, Dr. Deutsch will discuss your options, and examine your ears to develop a treatment approach that is best suited to your needs. At this time, Dr. Deutsch will also go over the possible risks and side effects of surgery, along with the associated costs of earlobe repair.

You can schedule your appointment by calling Perimeter Plastic Surgery at (404) 255-0886, or by filling out our online appointment request form on our website. We look forward to hearing from you!