According to a study, 81 percent of Americans have pierced ears, a number that San Diego plastic surgeon Larry H. Pollack, MD says is understandable, given the sizable amount of patients he sees requesting earlobe repairs. “Earrings are ubiquitous in women and men, but with heavy earrings, traction or a sudden tear, the earring hole can stretch or tear all the way through, leaving a split earlobe,” he says. His recommendation for fixing this taboo, yet popular problem? Visiting a board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist for a surgical repair.
“Earlobe repair surgery involves removing the new skin that has grown over each side of the split or enlarged hole and sewing the lobe back together,” says Dr. Pollack. “Where this gets complicated is with gauges, which can stretch the lobe out so far, it becomes extremely thin.”
To achieve a normal-looking earlobe that doesn’t look surgically altered, he cuts out a doughnut shape of skin on a stretched earlobe, or an L-shaped piece of skin on either side of the tear if completely torn through. “This technique works for any patient, whether they’ve torn their lobe with a gauge or if they have saggy lobes due to old age.”
While an earlobe repair may seem like a tricky procedure, Dr. Pollack says it’s actually quite quick. “Earlobe repair surgery is done in the office under local anesthesia and it only takes 15 to 30 minutes on average,” he says. Once the surgery is complete, he sends patients home with a short list of to-do’s: “While sutures are removed only seven days after the procedure, it’s important that the patient sleeps on their back or the opposite side of the repair for two to three weeks to prevent re-injury. Within two to three months, the patient can re-pierce their ear again.”
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