Otoplasty repair, or earlobe repair, will close elongated earring holes, gauge openings, or torn earlobes. After years of wearing heavy earrings, the holes can stretch and look deformed. Sometimes babies who are fascinated by dangling earrings latch onto them and rip them from the earlobe, leaving the wearer with a jagged tear. Then there are those who started gauging their ears and are now need the ears to look normal.
Am I a good candidate?
A good otoplasty repair candidate, like any good candidate for any plastic surgery, must be in good health, have no active diseases or serious, pre-existing medical conditions, and must have realistic expectations of the outcome of the surgery. Again, as with any plastic surgery, a good candidate for earlobe repair is preferably a non-smoker.
Earlobe repair varies from simply stitching an elongated earring hole or a torn earlobe to total earlobe reconstruction as in the case of large gauge closure. For simple repairs of stretched earring holes or tears from earrings, it is a short procedure that takes 30 minutes per side. After numbing the area, the plastic surgeon will make careful, small incisions, creating a clean edge. These edges will then be sutured together. Typically six weeks after the procedure, the ear may be pierced again. Gauge repair, depending on the size of the gauge used to stretch the earlobe, can be more involved. The word coloboma means an absence or defect of tissue; ergo the plastic surgeon must use his skill to compensate for the missing tissue. Gauge repair is approached with different techniques. Essentially, the plastic surgeon must reconstruct the entire earlobe. Adding to the complexity of some cases is if the patient wore only one gauge, or wore two different size gauges. The goal is to make the earlobes look natural and symmetric.
Torn Earlobe Repair
Earlobe repair is a process to close torn earlobes. These types of injuries can occur in any number of ways, but one of the most common is when an earring gets snagged or is grabbed and pulled by a young child. This will effectively tear the earlobe, causing immense pain, quite a bit of bleeding, and a nasty-looking tear in the lobe. This can be repaired with an in-office procedure under local anesthetic.
Upon completing the torn earlobe repair, most patients will be fully healed and ready to wear new earrings within six to eight weeks. This timeframe does come with a few caveats, however, including the inability to wear dangle earrings for two to three months after the procedure.
This type of earlobe repair will generally cost around $400, though prices will vary depending on location and doctor.
Split Earlobe Repair
When you have a split earlobe, the only option to repair the damaged area is to undergo minor surgery, which requires a local anesthetic and can be done while awake in a doctor’s office. The surgery is especially important for those seeking to wear earrings afterward.
A split earlobe is one of the single most common injuries to occur in or around the ear. Such an injury generally comes from heavy earrings causing distress on the earlobe, an improperly positioned earring, or significant trauma to the area, such as an earring getting snagged and pulled from the lobe.
Regardless of how the injury happened, it is entirely possible to fix the earlobe. A small scar may form where the damage was done, which can easily be hidden with an earring.
Recovery is quite simple for earlobe repair. Patients will have sutures, which will be removed the following week. Tylenol can be taken to alleviate any discomfort following the procedure.
Terms to Know
Coloboma – an absence or defect of tissue
Bilateral – pertaining to, involving, or affecting two or both sides
What type of anesthesia is used for earlobe surgery?
Earlobe repair is generally a minor procedure that can be performed with a local anesthetic. Upon injecting the anesthetic into the patient’s earlobe with a fine gauge needle (this will sting slightly when it is first administered), the earlobe will become numb, allowing the doctor to work effectively. Of course, being an in-office procedure, you will remain awake for the entire process and can even drive right after. The freezing in your earlobe will wear off after a few hours, and you will feel a slight discomfort in the immediate area for a short time. Thankfully, this discomfort is easily managed with over-the-counter pain medication.
Experiences may vary greatly depending on the type of injury around the earlobe. If your doctor is unavailable at the time, then the hospital is the only other choice, which may cost quite a bit more.
Is it true that before gauge repair that people have to leave their gauges out 12 weeks first?
Sometimes a waiting period is recommended so that the hole left behind by the gauge can shrink on its own before being surgically repaired. By doing so, the proposed surgery may be somewhat less involved. The typical waiting time is 2 weeks.
Why is it preferable that plastic surgery patients are non-smokers?
Smokers have impaired capacity for wound repair and propensity for skin necrosis because oxygen is the basis for wound healing and it all begins at the cellular level; smoking deprives the body of the much-needed oxygen required to repair and build cells. Oxygen also kicks off energy production and to put it simply, helps to prevent infection in open wounds and is the foundation for the rebuilding of the skin tissues.
How soon after earlobe repair can I have my ears pierced again?
Optimally, patients should wait at least six weeks before having their ears re-pierced.