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The earlobes are appendages of the ears made of soft skin and a small amount of fatty tissue. When studying the earlobe appearance and anatomy, one is often surprised about the large variation in size, form and shape. Aside from being important for a normal appearance of the ears, the earlobes serve women and men as popular locations for jewelry. Often, the earlobes are pierced to fit various forms of ear ornaments ranging from little studs to larger and heavier items.
A variety of problems may require reconstructive surgery of the earlobes. Earlobe abnormalities may result from hereditary abnormalities, traumatic events, surgical procedures (i.e., for skin cancer treatment) or earlobe changes due to body art. The reconstructive approaches to most of these problems differ and depend on the specific needs of the patient. Often, a creative and artistic eye is helpful in planning these delicate earlobe procedures.
How Can Split/Gauge Earlobes Be Corrected?
Most torn earlobes can be effectively and safely corrected using delicate surgical repair techniques. The procedure is routinely performed in the office under local anesthesia. After planning and marking, a small amount of lidocaine numbing solution is deposited. The procedure itself is performed without any discomfort. In order to rebuild the earlobe, the healed and scarred aspects of the tear require removal. The most appropriate technique will be discussed with the patient and depends on the specific location of tear and anatomy of the earlobe. Fine suture threads are used to support the repair and minimize scarring. Small amounts of antibiotic ointment are applied at home for a few days ensuring cleanliness. The healed earlobe usually has a barely visible pencil-fine scar line.
EARLOBE SLIT (Enlarged Piercing Hole)
An incomplete tear in the earlobe usually starts at the original piercing site and continues downward for some degree. The result is an earlobe hole too large to hold ear studs. Closure of the enlarged slit-like hole can be performed in the office. A new piercing usually has to be performed but has to wait for approximately 8 weeks.
Earlobes may be large from birth but commonly get bigger with age. A large earlobe may require substantial ear jewelry for appropriate balance; small studs may appear “lost” within the space of a fleshy earlobe. Large earlobes can be sagging and hang down too far which may benefit from a decrease of the hanging curvature. In other instances, the earlobe is rather fleshy and elongated requiring a decrease of the overall length. An earlobe reduction is performed in the office under local anesthesia with the option of a sedative.
Removal of benign lesions and keloids– This may often develop a result of piercing or trauma and may enlarge over time. This can be removed with a simple in office procedure. Photos below are before and after – 12 days later, immediately post removal of stitches.
EARLOBE RECONSTRUCTION INSTRUCTIONS
EARLOBE REPAIR PRE-OPERATIVE CARE
- Avoid any fish oil, vitamin E, aspirin, aspirin-containing products, or ibuprofen (Advil, Aleve, etc.) for one week prior to your surgery. If you are on any medications that affect bleeding (such as Coumadin or Warfarin) please notify the office immediately.
- Please refrain from tobacco products and alcohol for 48 hours prior and one week following surgery. Along with delayed wound healing, persistent skin redness and other complications may persist when tobacco and alcohol are not discontinued.
- Please notify us of all routine medications and significant health history. We ask that you remain on your daily medications unless instructed otherwise.
- There are no dietary restrictions before the procedure unless instructed otherwise.
- You will have local (numbing) anesthesia, you will be able to drive yourself home after your surgery.
AFTER EARLOBE REPAIR SURGERY
- Following your split ear lobe repair, we will review all instructions you will need for postoperative care. Avoid putting the phone to the affected ear for one week following surgery. Avoid turtlenecks or tight fitting clothing for one week following split ear lobe repair.
- You will be asked to come on postoperative day 7 for suture removal. Although your ear lobe is not completely healed at this time, the sutures are removed to prevent permanent suture marks.
POSTOPERATIVE EARLOBE REPAIR INSTRUCTIONS
- Keep dressing dry and intact the evening after surgery and until the morning.
- Most patients complain of discomfort more than pain so you may take Tylenol. Remember, if your pain is out of proportion, please call us immediately.
- Avoid putting the phone to the affected ear for one week following surgery. Avoid turtlenecks or tight fitting clothing for one week following earlobe repair. Patients typically do not need to take time off work other than the time for the surgery
- Always protect your face from the sun. Avoid unprotected prolonged sun exposure for three months following earlobe repair to prevent pigmentation of incision lines.
- Do not exercise for one week following surgical repair.
- Please Remember! Swelling, bruising and disrupted sleep are very normal postoperative symptoms and will decrease as the healing process occurs.
- Following earlobe repair, it takes time (one to two weeks) for the swelling to subside and for the skin to heal. At ten days postoperatively, swelling and minimal bruising may be apparent to you but not to many of your coworkers and closest friends.
- Final results following any cosmetic surgery are not apparent for one full year. After three months, the changes are ever so subtle, although still important. Being perfectionists about our work, you may tell us you are pleased long before the one-year anniversary. However, we request that you follow-up with us at that time for postoperative photographs and so that we can enjoy your final result.
Can the Ear Be Pierced Again?
Yes, but patients need to wait for a minimum of 8 weeks before a stud can be placed. It is important to prevent recurrent earlobe damage.
Earlobe Split: $500 per ear
Earlobe Gage Repair: $1000 per ear