Earlobe tears from trauma or poor piercing techniques are common in men and women. Earlobe gauging or stretching goes back centuries connected to tribal influences. It has become popular with many young adults for cosmetic appearance to stretch the earlobes but many are now wanting or needing their earlobes to return to their normal state.
Gauged ears are earlobes that have been stretched over and over again in order to accommodate large jewelry or gauges. These gauges can vary from slightly larger than an ear piercing to several inches across in width. When the earlobes are stretched gradually over time, the skin from the original piercing epithelializes around to make a complete healing. As it is stretched, the earlobe becomes loose and will never grow back together once the stretching and epithelialized of the inner piercing has been completed.
Good candidates for earlobe surgery are patients who no longer wish to have gauging of the earlobes or have an earlobe tear from a piercing. The most common candidates are men or women who are looking to join the military or work force and the stretched or gauged earlobes are not accepted in their work place after an earlobe tear. Others are perhaps people who have changed their mind about gauging their earlobes.
One way of correcting this surgically is to actually excise the tissue that has been stretched or torn using a pie type or V-shaped out incision. Sometimes by removing the epithelialized portion of the inner circle, this can be used to create small skin flaps to reconstruct the earlobe. Typically after either of the techniques, it is not uncommon to have a slight decrease in the overall size of the earlobe.
Recovery, Risks and Results
After surgery there are typically two layers of stitches. A deep layer of dissolvable stitches and an outer layer of stitches, which are removed one week after surgery. Ointment must be applied to the earlobes and the earlobes must be covered by a bandage. Activities such as exercise or anything in which the earlobes may hit or be covered (head phones, protective equipment from a job site) must be refrained until sutures are removed. After the sutures are removed all activities can be resumed. The earlobes can be re-pierced at 8 weeks if desired. It is not uncommon to have some numbness of the earlobes after surgery.
The scar will be a fine line that will fade around 6-12 months. It is not recommended to re-gauge the earlobes but re-piercing is ok. If the earlobes are re-pierced, a post earring must stay in place for 8 weeks and some form of earring needs to be in the ear for 6 months.