The earlobes are appendages of the ears made of soft skin and a small amount of fatty tissue. When studying the earlobe appearance and anatomy, one is often surprised about the large variation in size, form and shape. Aside from being important for a normal appearance of the ears, the earlobes serve women and men as popular locations for jewelry. Often, the earlobes are pierced to fit various forms of ear ornaments ranging from little studs to larger and heavier items.
Excessive weight or trauma can easily overcome the strength of the earlobe tissues leading to a tear in the gentle earlobe tissues. This split may be unattractive and renders the earlobe unusable for most jewelry. Sometimes, clip-on earrings can still be fitted and are used to camouflage the earlobe tear.
We have seen creative patients using transparent tape to temporarily repair their torn lobe. Although a resourceful idea, skin reaction may develop making this habit obsolete in the long run.
Most torn earlobes can be effectively and safely corrected using delicate surgical repair techniques. The procedure is routinely performed in the office under local anesthesia with an optional sedative. After planning and marking, a small amount of lidocaine numbing solution is deposited. The procedure itself is performed without any discomfort.
In order to rebuild the earlobe, the healed and scarred aspects of the tear require removal. Repair is then performed in a straight line or in a zigzag. The most appropriate technique will be discussed with the patient and depend on the specific location of injury and anatomy of the earlobe. Fine suture threads are used, support the repair and minimize scarring.
Small amounts of antibiotic ointment are applied at home for a few days ensuring cleanliness. The healed earlobe has usually a barely visible pencil-fine scar line without aesthetic limitations.
Yes, but Dr. Fechner asks his patients to wait for a minimum of 8 weeks before a stud can be placed. Now it is important to prevent recurrent earlobe damage. Therefore, be careful with larger ear jewelry and loops around children. Small studs are relatively safe, heavy earrings should be avoided.
Earlobes may be large from birth but commonly get bigger with age. A large earlobe may require substantial ear jewelry for appropriate balance; small studs may appear “lost” within the space of a fleshy earlobe. Large earlobes can be sagging and hang down too far which may benefit from a decrease of the hanging curvature. In other instances, the earlobe is rather fleshy and elongated requiring a decrease of the overall length.
An earlobe reduction is performed in the office under local anesthesia with the option of a sedative. Sometimes, earlobe reduction is performed in conjunction with a face and neck lift procedure.
An incomplete tear in the earlobe usually starts at the original piercing site and continues downward for some degree. The result is an earlobe hole too large to hold ear studs. Closure of the enlarged slit-like hole can be performed in the office. A new piercing usually has to be performed but has to wait for approximately 8 weeks.
A variety of problems may require reconstructive surgery of the earlobes. Earlobe abnormalities may result from hereditary abnormalities, traumatic events, surgical procedures (i.e., for skin cancer treatment) or earlobe changes due to body art. The reconstructive approaches to most of these problems differ and depend on the specific needs of the patient. Often, a creative and artistic eye is helpful in planning these delicate earlobe procedures.
FRANK P. FECHNER MD. All Rights Reserved.
428 Shrewsbury Street, Worcester, MA 01604