Body Art and Earlobe Repair

Ross A. Clevens, MD
Article by
Melbourne Facial Plastic Surgeon

When people today think of body art, they think of it as a modern practice for rebellious teens and people with questionable backgrounds. The fact is that body art has been practiced for thousands of years, all around the world. In fact, the earliest known human remains with piercings dates back to Egypt over 5,000 years ago. This male mummy had his earlobes pierced and stretched to accommodate larger gauge plugs.
In the last century, body piercings in the Western world surfaced prominently as ear piercings and quickly gave way to nose and body piercings. At the same time tattoos were gaining popularity and by 1900, there was a tattoo shop in every major American city.
Today, body art is a common site in America. The most common reason for a person getting a tattoo or a body piercing is personal expression. Tattoos are chosen or designed to represent something personal about the bearer, from the name of a loved one, to a symbol that relates to the person’s personality. Piercings are used to adorn the body with decoration.
The bearers of body art are often looked at with preconceived bias. A good majority of this bias has stemmed from the negative portrayal of tattoos and piercings in the media. Characters who are criminals, drug addicts or from unsavory backgrounds, all sporting tattoos or piercings, can be seen in countless movie and television roles.
Often obtained during a rebellious or youthful phase, teenagers and young people become adult men and women that occasionally regret their decision. Alternatively, many traditional workplaces don’t approve of facial tattoos, lip piercings, or extra-large earlobes. While there is a commercial culture built around delivering customized tattoos and piercings, there is also a subset of cosmetic surgery designed to remove colorful skin designs and repair damage caused by piercings. Once viewed as permanent, it is now possible to go back and change your mind about that tattoo you got back in college. The decision about what you do with your body belongs to you and choosing to get a tattoo is just as acceptable as choosing to remove it.
The same is true for gauged ears. Men and women that regret a youthful decision to stretch their earlobes beyond recognition, or those that simply want to change their look, now have the option of surgical repair. In my practice, I am able to reshape patients earlobes to resemble its former version and return it to a normal size with minimal pain or recovery time. This procedure can also be used to repair normal-sized earlobes that have been split due to overly heavy earrings or improper piercing technique.
My best advice to my patients; experimenting with tattoos and gauge earrings may have been a phase of your youth that helped shape the independent, free-thinking and open-minded person you are today. Simply removing the tattoos and earrings and repairing the damage doesn’t change who you are. Be sure to maintain that unique and rebellious streak on the inside, even while conforming to physical appearances on the outside.