One of the most common cosmetic deformities of the ear is a torn or split earlobe. This could be due to wearing heavy earrings, an improper piercing or due to trauma to the earlobe. Whatever the reason may be, it can certainly be a cause of distress. It is not uncommon for patients in Hartford, New Haven, Norwalk, Greenwich and Avon to want to correct this ear deformity, so that they may continue to wear earrings or restore the symmetry of their earlobes.
As we get older our ears continue to grow. This enlargement of the earlobes affects both men and women equally. Enlarged earlobes can start to affect patients in their forties and fifties and this can make their entire face appear older. Sometimes the earlobes can grow so large that they can become a very serious cosmetic concern. It can be so concerning, that people won’t allow pictures to be taken of themselves or they will grow their hair long just to cover their ears. When patients have large earlobes, they don’t realize that this affects many people and that there is a very simple surgical procedure to correct enlarged earlobes.
Surgical reduction is the only treatment option for enlarged earlobes. There are no medical treatments that make earlobes smaller. The procedure takes about 1.5 to 2 hours and is performed in the office. There is no sedation and the procedure is performed using local anesthetic which is injected using a very small needle into each earlobe. Because there is no sedation you can drive yourself to and from the appointment.
Prior to the start of the procedure your earlobes are measured. Usually, the earlobes are asymmetric in size, shape, and location. Once both earlobes are measured, the amount of earlobe tissue to be removed is determined. A very small amount of numbing medication is then injected into the first earlobe using a very small needle. This will cause a small pinch and a small burn, and then the earlobe while be completely numb for the entirety of the procedure. The excess earlobe tissue is then excised and the incisions are then closed using very tiny blue sutures. There will be sutures on the front and back of the earlobe and the design of the sutures will be in a shape of a “T”. Once one ear is completed, attention will turn to the opposite ear to perform an identical procedure. Different amounts of tissue maybe excised from the two earlobes to make asymmetric earlobes more symmetric. Once both earlobes are completed, ointment will be applied to the suture lines, front and back. You will be able to see your earlobes immediately at the end of the procedure, since there are no dressings or bandages needed. The earlobes will be swollen at this time due to the numbing medication.
Following the procedure, your earlobes will be numb for approximately 2 hours. Once the numbing medication wears off there may be a mild burning sensation of the earlobes that is easily treated with Tylenol of Motrin. This sensation usually resolves within 24 hours. You will need to apply ointment to the sutures three times per day (front and back of the earlobe). Prior to applying any ointment, you will clean off any scabs or crusting using hydrogen peroxide. Once, the sutures are clean, then you can re-apply the ointment. You can shower and let soapy water run over your earlobes the next day. However, you cannot submerge your ears in water like in a bathtub, pool, or hot tub until the sutures are removed. You must sleep with your head above the level of your heart for one week to minimize swelling. No bending, lifting or straining for one week, again to minimize swelling. In seven to ten days, you will return to the office for suture removal. There is no pain or discomfort associated with the suture removal and it takes about 20 minutes.
Sometimes when performing an earlobe reduction, it is necessary to remove the tissue where the ears were pierced. Or the earlobe reduction results in repositioning of the earring hole to an undesirable location. In these situations, if the patient so desires, repiercing of the earlobes can be performed eight weeks following the earlobe reduction. After eight weeks the incisions will have healed and they will be barely noticeable. Again, the earlobes will be measured and a surgical marking pen will be used to mark out the new location of the piercings. The new piercing sites cannot be in the same location as the incisions, because these incision lines will always be inherently weaker than normal skin. The patient is allowed to see the marked out locations for the new piercings and if the patient approves, then a very small amount of numbing medication is injected into each earlobe. The earlobes are then pierced using nickel free piercing earrings and the patient is again allowed to approve the new locations. The piercings can be relocated at this time if the patient so desires. If the patient wishes to use their own earrings for the piercings, the earrings need to be smooth, small “BB” sized earrings, that are nickel free.
Am I a good candidate for an earlobe reconstruction?
If you have an enlarged earring hole or if you have an earlobe that is completely split or torn through you are an ideal candidate for a reconstruction.
What is the reconstruction procedure?
The earlobe reconstruction procedure is performed under local anesthesia and takes about an hour. The type of earlobe repair on the degree of the tear. Small flaps may be used at times for redesigning the earlobe in cases where there is a very large tear or if the earlobes are distorted by earlobe gauges. The healed edges of the enlarged hole or split are removed, and the fresh edges are sutured together. Dr. Stanislaw uses very small stitches that are removed after seven days.
What is the recovery from my earlobe reconstruction?
Any discomfort after the surgery is minimal and can be treated with Tylenol. There is no recovery time period as such and you may return to work immediately post-surgery.
When can I re-pierce my earlobes?
Dr. Stanislaw can re-pierce the earlobes 6 weeks after the earlobe reconstruction. At the time of the re-piercing, patients will bring in a pair of small earrings with posts that are made of good quality stainless steel or gold. The posts can not contain any nickel. These earrings are left in place for one month. After one month, the earrings can be removed and changed.
With minimal scarring and no downtime, an earlobe reconstruction is the perfect procedure for those who have split or torn earlobes.
The dream of serving in the military is being dashed for many young people by two small problems: stretched earlobes. All branches of service prohibit anyone with the popular earlobe gauges or plug piercings to enlist. Facial surgeon Dr. Paul Stanislaw is on a mission to educate military hopefuls about the quick one-day procedure that can repair the large openings and restore the ear’s appearance. He is offering a ten percent discount to all military and law enforcement for earlobe reconstruction procedures, not just on Veterans’ Day, but year-round to ensure anyone who wishes to serve will not be disqualified and he was on to talk with Brad and Paul about it!