Damage to ear lobes caused by heavy earrings can be fixed
Dear Dr. Man. I’m a 63-year-old woman from Boca Raton. I’ve worn heavy earrings my entire life and now I’m paying for it. One of my earlobes is completely torn through and the other one is just about torn. Now I can’t wear earrings at all. Worse yet, everyone always asks me what is wrong with my ears. Can this be fixed? Can I wear earrings again one day?
Answer: The condition that you are experiencing is not uncommon; and there is surgery to help repair the damage to your ear lobes. Ear reconstruction can involve the entire ear or only a part – the lobe.
Otoplasty is a general term for ear reshaping. Ear lobe reconstruction is much less involved than other forms of ear reshaping.
While earrings can add to a woman’s beauty, they can also add significant weight or trauma, causing the tissue in your earlobe to pull with enough pressure over time. A tear in the lobe or margin can leave a notch in an otherwise smooth, continuous edge. Large or heavy items will gradually elongate the hole and eventually tear through the lobe. This defect in one’s ear is usually very visible and difficult to cover up.
Most ear holes gradually enlarge over time. This is relatively normal for someone with pierced ears. The final tear is usually just through a tiny piece of tissue at the bottom of the lobe. If only the bottom is actually torn, immediate repair will not take care of the skin-covered slot. However, if the tear starts from a tiny pierced hole, immediate repair is an option. Otherwise, reconstruction should be delayed until after the wound has healed and tissues are not inflamed.
Depending on the deformity, reconstruction can take different forms. In all methods, the skin lining the slot is removed, creating a raw edge to rebuild. Depending on the type of tear or the amount of damage in your ear, your plastic surgeon can use different techniques for surgery. When you meet with your board certified plastic surgeon, be sure to discuss the technique he or she plans to use for your surgery.
During most of these surgeries, local anesthetic is used to numb the earlobe. After surgery, most patients do not need anything stronger than an over-the-counter pain medication.
It is important to care for your earlobes after surgery. You should wash your wound with soap and water three times a day. Your doctor will prescribe you an antibiotic ointment that should be applied as well. You may experience some drainage from the wound after surgery. Sutures are usually removed by your surgeon within about seven days.
You should hold off wearing earrings for at least six weeks after surgery in order to give your earlobes time to heal properly. When you do resume wearing earrings, you should wear small, light earrings for at least two months after surgery. If your holes have been closed and you would like new holes pierced, I generally recommend waiting about six months after surgery.
Dr. Daniel Man is a board-certified plastic surgeon who has dedicated his life’s work to helping people look younger and improve their appearance through cosmetic surgery. He is a noted author, artist, inventor and educator. Dr. Man has been featured on major television networks, as well as national and local magazines and newspapers for his work as both a plastic surgeon and an artist. He has a private practice in Boca Raton. For more information, visit www.drman.com. Email your questions or comments to email@example.com.