Aside from being important from a normal appearance standpoint, earlobes serve as a popular location for jewelry. Often, earlobes are pierced to fit various forms of adornments, ranging from little studs to larger and heavier items.
Earlobes are comprised of a small amount of fatty tissue covered by soft skin. Excessive weight or trauma can easily overcome the strength of the earlobe tissues leading to a tear in the gentle earlobe tissues. This split may be unattractive and renders the earlobe unusable for most jewelry. In certain instances, clip-on earrings can be used to conceal an earlobe tear.
For the most part, torn earlobes can be safely corrected using delicate surgical repair techniques.
This procedure is routinely performed in our office under local anesthesia with an optional sedative. After marking the earlobe, a small amount of numbing solution is applied to the area, and the procedure itself is performed without discomfort. To rebuild the earlobe, the healed and scarred area of the tear is simply removed. Repair is performed in a straight line or zigzag fashion. The most appropriate technique will be discussed with the patient and depend on the specific location of injury and anatomy of the earlobe. Fine sutures are used to support the repair and minimize scaring. A small quantity of antibiotic ointment is applied at home for a few days to ensure cleanliness. The healed earlobe usually has a barely visible pencil-fine scar line.
Can the Ear be Pierced Again After Correction?
The ear can be pierced again; however, we ask that patients wait a minimum of eight weeks before inserting a stud. Since it is important to prevent recurrent earlobe damage, be careful with larger ear jewelry and loops around children. Small studs are relatively safe, but heavy jewelry should be avoided.
Earlobe Slit (Enlarged Piercing Hole)
Incomplete earlobe tears usually start at the original piercing site and continue downward for some distance. The result is an earlobe hole too large to hold ear studs. Closure of the enlarged slit-like hole can be performed in our office. A new piercing usually has to be performed, but patients should wait approximately eight weeks before having a ears re-pierced.
Earlobes may be large from birth, but commonly get bigger with age. A large earlobe may require substantial ear jewelry for appropriate balance; small studs may appear lost within the space of a fleshy earlobe. Large earlobes that sag and hang down too far may benefit from a decrease of the hanging curvature. In other instances, the earlobe is rather fleshy and elongated, requiring a decrease of the overall length. An earlobe reduction is performed in our office under local anesthesia with the option of a sedative. Sometimes, earlobe reduction is performed in conjunction with a face and neck lift procedure.
Earlobe Reconstruction (Earlobe Repair)
A variety of problems may require reconstructive surgery of the earlobes. Earlobe abnormalities may result from hereditary abnormalities, traumatic events, surgical procedures (i.e., for skin cancer treatment) or earlobe changes due to body art. The reconstructive approaches to most of these problems differ and depend on the specific needs of the patient. Often, a creative and artistic eye is helpful in planning these delicate earlobe procedures.