Piercing Problems: Lobe Prevention, Care & Repair

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It may not be the end of the world but problems with ear lobe piercings can be very irritating, not to mention a possible fashion faux pas. While this mainly affects women, some men have issues with this as well. (Always nice to have parity.)

The Problem
Predominantly the problem with the ear lobes is elongation of the piercing hole or, in more severe cases, the hole tearing all the way through the edge of the lobe. Elongated holes make earrings hang somewhat crooked, and the ones that have torn through won’t hold an earring at all. You can take my word on this.

The problem has a couple of causes but the main one is wearing heavy earrings. In addition to gravity being a factor, larger earrings can be more easily caught on things like clothing. Sometimes they are grabbed by babies or young children who just want to do a few pull-ups from the earrings. This was not a problem in my mother’s generation because many earring were clip-ons and pierced earrings were small but it seems to be an issue for women nowadays.

Prevention Is The Best Solution
So, what to do about this? Well, the first thing is to avoid really heavy earrings. I know this is kind of a no-brainer, but it is something to consider. However, fashion or the most recent gift from your father-in-law (who just came back from Columbia with beautiful amethyst earrings for my wife) can dictate otherwise. But to back up a bit, if you are planning getting your ears pierced, don’t get the hole too low. The more of the earlobe that is below the hole, the better the support will be for the earring.

A $10 Fix
Now, if you are concerned about the weight of your earrings, or if the holes in your ears have begun to elongate and your earrings are hanging all cattywompuss (please forgive the technical term), there is an easy solution: Lobe Wonders. These are little discs that are worn on the back of your ear between the earring back and the lobe. They stabilize your earrings, and take the stress off the tissue of the lobes. And they make your earrings hang straight. They are actually quite good and easy to use. We also carry them in our office?.just saying. So, if you are looking for an easy solution or a way of preventing things from getting worse, we got your back, or at least your ear’s back.

Injectable Fillers Work Quite Nicely
The next option for the elongated hole is to add some bulk to the skin beneath the hole. Did I hear someone say fillers? Indeed. The injection of Juvederm or other hyaluronic acids fillers can bulk up this area and give greater support.  Now, this is a bit more costly because it will usually take a full syringe to treat both ears. And it may not last forever. However, it can help and it’s easy to do. Just ask Jill in our office.

Repairing a Ripped Earlobe
Once the earlobe is ripped all the way through, you will need to have this repaired. Fortunately this can be done in the office, and it’s not very painful. We just inject a little numbing medicine into the earlobe (no worse than getting the ear pierced originally), and then remove the skin on the inside of the torn hole. Why, you might ask, do we need to do this? Well, if we just put some stitches in, we would be putting the skin or one side against the other and it wouldn’t heal. Just the same way that your fingers won’t grow together at night while you’re sleeping. Skin won’t heal to skin. Once we have “pared” the inside of the hole, so to speak, we just put in a few stitches. These stay in for about 6 days. There will be a little scar there, but it is usually hidden by earrings after the ear is re-pierced, which can be done in about 6 weeks.

Repairing a Gauged Earlobe
Some folks have their ears gauged, which may have seemed like a good idea at one time, but may not be so good if they are looking for employment later in life, or want to enter the military. Repairing a gauged earlobe is a much more difficult problem due to the tremendous stretching and thinning of the tissues. In these cases we really need to reconstruct the earlobe. This is much more involved and I do this as an outpatient operation in a surgery center, although it can still be done under local anesthesia. I think that a reconstructed earlobe will always look better than a gauged earlobe, but it will never look as good as the normal earlobe. Something to think about if you are thinking of gauging your ears, or you’re trying to talk your son or daughter out of doing this. But, it?s good to know that there is a treatment, if you ever want and need it.

As you can see, there are a lot of things that can be done for the problem earlobe. Usually people like simpler things better, and I would agree. However, keeping our earlobe holes from getting too stretched out in the first place may be the best way to go.
All the best,
David B.

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Knoxville Plastic Surgeon