Who is a candidate for earlobe repair?
Patients often seek ear lobe repair for several primary reasons. Traditionally, the downward pull of heavy earrings can stretch and elongate the ear lobe. As the skin and soft tissues weaken over time, the pierced hole can become larger and may eventually tear through the weakened tissue. This tends to happen in older patients after years of heavy earring use. A similar tear can also occur more abruptly from trauma. Earrings may be pulled by children or snagged on garments leading to an abrupt laceration in the ear lobe. In each of these cases, clip on jewelry may be worn, but the ear lobe is left with a forked shape that can no longer wear a traditional piercing.
There are also growing social and cultural trends whereby the ear lobe is serially dilated, thinned, and elongated with the use of larger and larger ear lobe gauges. As this dilation increases, the tissue may become weak and break. Individuals with ear lobe tears, or who simply wish to restore their lobes to a more natural appearance, are ideal candidates for ear lobe repair. Persons seeking military enlistment may also need repair of this kind of piercing prior to joining any of the United States Armed Forces.
Finally, some patients are dissatisfied with enlarged ear lobes and seek reduction in their size. These patients may not have any tear or piercing but may simply have developed ear lobes too large for their liking. This may be an inherited familial trait, or may arise over time with increased ear lobe size. These patients are ideal candidates for minimally invasive earlobe reduction procedure.
How is it performed?
Repairs of ear lobe tears and reduction of ear lobe size can all be done on an outpatient basis in the clinic with little to no down time. Once the ear lobe skin is anesthetized and sterilely cleansed, the torn lobe or excess skin can then be repaired and contoured typically using dissolving sutures.
Can the ear be pierced again?
After the earlobe is repaired, it can be pierced to accept an earring again. However, this may not be done for at least 2-3 months following the repair to account for an individual’s rate of healing. Dr. Stallworth prefers to perform this repeat piercing in the office and will discuss your options with you based on your preferences.