Though earlobes can be injured in physical fights, animal bites, or accidents, most often dermatologists are called upon to repair earlobe damage related to earrings.
Types of Earlobe Injuries
There are two common types of earlobe injuries: split earlobes and stretched or elongated earlobes. Stretched or elongated earlobes are usually caused by very heavy earrings; torn earlobes are usually the result of something snagging or pulling on the earring until the earlobe tears.
Surgical Techniques for Earlobe Repair
Surgical repair of split earlobes is an outpatient procedure, typically quick and painless. Your dermatologist numbs your ear by injecting a local anesthetic and performs an incision surrounding the split to remove the jagged edges. The doctor then sutures the wound carefully, closing the split and restoring the normal appearance of the earlobe.
Ear Gauging (Plugging)
In recent years, ear gauging, or plugging, once only used in certain tribal cultures, has become popular among some segments of the population. Since this fad tends to be most common among older adolescents and young adults, the desire for expanded ear holes often disappears as patients age. For this reason, dermatologists may be called upon to perform surgical repairs to close up the large holes created by gauging and restore the normal appearance of the earlobe.
Though patients should expect some discomfort and swelling after earlobe repair, for many patients the most difficult part of having surgical earlobe repair is having to forego wearing earrings for 6 weeks to 2 months. Usually, the stitches are removed after 2 weeks and though there may be minimal scarring, it will fade with time. If you are going to want your earlobe re- pierced after healing, you should discuss this before having the surgical procedure.