Most of the outer ear consists of skin over contoured cartilage; muscles and ligaments hold it in place. The lobe of the ear does not contain any cartilage, however, making it susceptible to damage, particularly if it has been pierced. Heavy earrings can cause the hole in the earlobe, or the earlobe itself, to stretch considerably, or the earlobe to split or tear. A forceful pull on an inserted earring can also cause the earlobe to tear.
The earlobe may also be intentionally stretched by a gauge-style piercing.
Torn/Stretched Earlobe Repair
Dr. Ramachandra repairs torn or stretched earlobes during a brief procedure in the office under local anesthesia. To repair a tear or overstretched hole, part of the skin around the tear or hole is cut away. Then, the "freshened" edges of the tear or hole are stitched together with both dissolving sutures (in the inner tissue) and regular sutures (on the surface skin).
Earlobe repair does not require prescription pain medication, and over-the-counter pain relievers are usually sufficient. Afterwards, the incision should be cleaned gently with a q-tip 2 times a day for a week. Skin sutures are removed 1 week after the procedure. If desired, Dr. Ramachandra will re-pierce the ear 4 to 6 weeks after repair. In order to prevent stretching or tearing after repair, heavy earrings will need to be avoided.
Earlobe Reduction Procedure
Patients may be interested in decreasing the overall size of the earlobe. Ear lobe reduction requires cutting out the redundant ear lobe tissue and re-suturing the lobe to maintain a natural appearance. Consultation before this type of appointment is usually required as the technique will vary depending upon a patient's goals, skin thickness and prior procedures.
Wound care will depend upon the actual procedure performed.
Risks of Earlobe Repair
Anytime skin is cut in a surgical procedure, there are certain risks, which include:
- Depression or “notch” in skin
- Tearing in the future