A split or torn earlobe is one of the most common aesthetic deformities of the ear. However, it can be easily repaired. Earrings, improper piercing, gauging (a body piercing practice), or trauma to the earlobe can result in tears or stretching to the area. This can cause distress to patients who wish to continue wearing earrings or would like to restore the natural appearance to their earlobes. If you are unhappy with the appearance and symmetry of your earlobes, there is a simple and effective procedure available.
What is Earlobe Repair?
Earlobe repair surgery is a reconstructive procedure performed to reestablish the proper appearance of the lobe by cutting away healed skin on the inside of the torn earlobe and suturing the fresh edges together. This results in a symmetric and natural-looking earlobe with only a fine, linear scar.
The following individuals may be good candidates for earlobe repair:
- Individuals with a split or tear from an acute accidental pull on an earring, or an ear piercing placed too close to the earlobe rim.
- Individuals with stretched earlobes due to wearing heavy earrings or from gauging, or individuals with an enlarged earring hole in the earlobe.
- Individuals with a history of trauma to the earlobe.
Philadelphia’s premier plastic surgery practice, W Cosmetic Surgery®, can repair your earlobes to their natural appearance. At W Cosmetic, we are experts in reconstructive earlobe repair surgery. Whether you have a minor or severe tear in the earlobe, it can be typically repaired with excellent results. Contact us to schedule your consultation.
*Each patient is unique and individual results may vary.
Earlobe Repair or Earlobe Rejuvenation Treatment?
Through the process of aging, our ears lose collagen and elastin causing earlobes to droop and sag. There are two primary surgical techniques used to perform restoration to the earlobes: earlobe repair and earlobe rejuvenation treatment. Earlobe repair is a surgical procedure and earlobe rejuvenation is a non-invasive procedure performed with dermal fillers, such as Restylane®.
When deciding which procedure is best for you, it’s important to consider the individual benefits of each and to have realistic expectations of the desired outcome.
Droopy or Sagging Earlobes
Drooping or sagging of the earlobes can result from the natural process of aging, wearing heavy jewelry, or gauging. Both methods of restoration to the earlobes may be used to reconstruct the area, but depending on the severity of the droop, one option may be more effective than the other.
For milder cases of droopy earlobes, an earlobe rejuvenation treatment can add volume to the earlobes by injecting a small amount of filler, such as Restylane. This procedure instantly expands the earlobe outward, creating a smaller, more youthful-looking lobe. In more severe cases resulting from gauging, earlobe repair may be recommended.
Earlobes With a History of Trauma
For earlobes with deep splits, stretches, or other signs of trauma, reconstructive earlobe repair is likely recommended. For patients who have a complete tear through the earlobe, earlobe repair is required. However, Restylane filler can be added to restore volume back to the earlobe after it has healed from surgery.
These scenarios should not replace an in-office consultation with your plastic surgeon. This is only meant to help educate you on the possible options. We will evaluate your unique case and provide the best solutions with you at our office. We Serve customers from Plymouth, Philadelphia, Main Line, PA and surrounding areas.
Your earlobe repair procedure. What to expect.
Earlobe repair surgery is performed in our surgical suite while you’re comfortably sedated under local anesthesia. To start the procedure, we first cut away the healed skin on the inside of the torn earlobe. The fresh edges are then stitched back together using very fine sutures. Earlobe repair is a short procedure and takes between 10–15 minutes, depending on the severity of the split.
Recovering from Earlobe Repair
The recovery from an earlobe repair surgery is relatively short. After the procedure, the patient may return home immediately and resume their normal work schedule. An over-the-counter pain medication such as Tylenol® may be recommended for mild discomfort. Patients must apply a prescribed antibiotic ointment to the incisions to prevent infection. Typically, the sutures are removed in 5–7 days after swelling is reduced. In some cases, dissolvable sutures are used and do not require removal.
Earlobe Repair Surgery Results
Once healing is complete after several weeks, patients may have their ears re-pierced and resume wearing earrings. However, due to the reconstructive surgery, the repaired site is weaker than the surrounding tissue, causing it to tear more easily. Re-piercing should only be performed at a slight distance from the scar site and not in the same area as the scar.
Why choose Dr. Allan Wulc
He is board certified in:
- Ophthalmology by the American Board of Ophthalmology
- Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery by the ASOPRS
- Cosmetic Surgery, Facial by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery
- Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery by the American Board of Physician Specialties
Adorning the earlobe with jewelry dates back more than 4000 years and has been in and out of fashion for women and men over the course of history. The ancient Egyptians saw earrings as a sign of wealth and upper social class, whereas, in Rome, earrings were worn only by slaves. Very recently, gauges were placed in the earlobes to enlarge them, echoing tradition in Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa. Many individuals who underwent this procedure ultimately regret it. Other patients are obsessed with the size of their earlobes.
What contributes to earlobe damage?
The earlobes normally enlarge as we age, and the use of hooped earrings with a piercing can make the effects of gravity apparent quicker.
Slit earlobes also occur because of the weight of a hooped earring on a piercing. Too aggressive skin removal during a facelift can also cause the earlobe to pull down, called a pixie ear. Rarely, patients allergic to nickel or other substances in their earrings can weaken the tissues of the earlobe, causing the earlobe piercing to stretch prematurely and make the lobe hang unattractively.
Splitting of the earlobe occurs most commonly due to trauma. The effect of a child grabbing a hoop earring, an earring getting caught on something (like an old-fashioned telephone or a finger), or any other trauma can cause the earlobe to split.
What causes these issues?
The earlobe is devoid of blood vessels and primarily consists of fat. The earlobe can be attached to the face or unattached. Occasionally after a facelift, an unattached earlobe becomes attached, or vice versa and patients become obsessed with having earlobes the way they used to be. Earlobes are approximately 1/5 the size of the earlobe and are approximately 17 mm in length. Earlobe stretching is accomplished for decorative purposes in other societies and was recently adopted in ours, easily enlarged the earlobe to twice that size. The earlobe does not contain cartilage and has a large blood supply around it, but no blood vessels within it.
What is involved in an earlobe procedure?
If the earlobe is split or the piercing is stretched, it is simply a matter of removing tissue and creating bare tissue, which we can then suture. This procedure is performed in the office. A small post earring can be left in place around the repair, or alternatively, and with a higher rate of success, the earlobe can be completely closed. The stretched piercing can be closed and repierced approximately six weeks after the treatment.
What other procedures can be performed to beautify the earlobe?
Large gauged lobules and multiple splits can all be repaired in the office setting. Often, atrophy of the lobule occurs, and filler or fat can augment the lost tissue within the earlobe. The earlobe, if attached, can be unattached. The aging lobule can be excised and beautified, and the earlobe can also be detached. Earlobes deformed from previous facelifts can also be restored to look less pixie-like. Patients who have undergone a facelift sometimes have stretching of the earlobe, which can be repaired using a small facial flap. All of these procedures can be performed in the office.
I’ve had this done before, and it has already pulled apart. What can be done?
In situations like this, it is best to reinforce the tissues within the earlobe using either fat transfer (the use of your fat) or using filler. This can actually rebuild and recreate scaffolding within the earlobe that prevents further scarring. We encourage people to use gold earrings because studies show that approximately 30 percent of the population is allergic to nickel, and nickel may be responsible for the pulling apart of the lobule.
What can I expect with earlobe repair?
Bruising and swelling are minimal with this procedure, which is performed in the office without sedation. Piercing is recommended approximately six weeks following the procedure. No dressings are applied. Most of the sutures that are used are dissolvable. To enhance healing, we will sometimes use a nonreactive, non-resorbable suture, which is removed approximately seven days after the procedure.
Does earlobe repair hurt?
The surgery itself does not hurt, and postoperatively a patient’s pain is managed easily with TYLENOL®. No ice or dressings are applied.
Can both ears be done at once?
If you sleep on your side, we should do one side at a time because sleeping on the operated earlobe can be painful and cause the surgery to be unsuccessful. Otherwise, surgery is easily accomplished bilaterally.
What is the incidence of recurrence?
Recurrence occurs very rarely.
What are the risks?
Infection, scarring, hemorrhage, failure to correct the problem to the extent that a patient likes, and the need after repair of volumization. Almost all the earlobes that have had surgery or a large tear have volume loss, and volume can be replaced secondarily after the repair is performed, usually using filler, or occasionally, using fat.
Why should I choose you for this procedure?
We have 25 years of experience. A consultation with us is best performed via telehealth or in person. A consultation alone will tell you whether we are the right fit for you and your earlobe aesthetic issues.