As we age, our ears lose collagen and elastin just like the rest of our skin. The lobes can start to droop and cannot hold the weight of jewelry. Additionally, individuals with high gauge plugs that stretch out the earlobes oftentimes want to remove them due to job requirements or a change in taste. When the earring is removed a large hole remains which will be reduced only slightly over time.
Who is a good candidate for earlobe repair?
A variety of individuals may benefit from repair of damaged, torn, or altered earlobes. The most common indication for earlobe reduction is a dilated earlobe from a gauge-style earlobe stretching, sometimes referred to as “plugging”. Tribal earlobes are another common ear configuration which may be repaired. Other patients may have suffered a torn or split earlobe from a traumatic injury related to an ear piercing. Occasionally, hypertrophic scarring or keloids may occur after ear piercing necessitating an earlobe repair.
How is an earlobe repair performed?
Earlobe surgery is sometimes referred to as otoplasty, a medical term that refers to a surgical procedure performed on a misshapen ear. In the case of dilated or torn earlobe, the procedure can be performed without discomfort under local anesthetic delivered from small, painless numbing injections of lidocaine. The dilated or torn earlobe is removed through a small wedge-shaped excision or occasionally with a more involved tissue rearrangement called an advancement or rotation flap. This removes the altered or scarred area of the skin and brings together fresh, unaffected edges of the earlobe skin. To complete the procedure, very fine sutures are placed at the site of repair and removed in 5-7 days.
What is the recovery like following earlobe surgical repair?
A mild amount of discomfort can be experienced following the procedure, which can be alleviated by a light dose of oral pain medication if needed. A small pressure bandage is applied to the ear area to reduce the chance of bleeding following the procedure. The bandage is left in place for 48 hours following surgery, at which time normal wound care including once to twice daily cleansing of the area is performed. Small stitches called sutures are typically removed around 5 days after the earlobe repair.
Will I have a scar following earlobe repair?
Yes, a scar results anytime the skin is excised. However, the scar itself is minimal, in many cases imperceptible. Oftentimes, the scar falls along the natural fold between the ear and the side of the face. Dr. Agha often offers supplemental treatment of the scar with a fractionated CO2 laser to further minimize the appearance of the scar, leading to an excellent cosmetic outcome.
Are there risks associated with earlobe surgery?
Yes. As with any surgical procedure, there are possible risks. Side effects are unlikely and typically mild in nature. These risks include but are not limited to the following: mild discomfort after the procedure, infection, hypertrophic scarring, and sensitivity in the area of treatment.