Fashion and your earlobes don’t necessarily make good partners. Large, heavy earrings can stretch and tear piercings. Big hoops catch on clothing and other things. Large gauges permanently stretch out earlobes, leaving a hole when removed.

Dr. Frank can perform straightforward earlobe surgery in all of these situations, repairing torn or stretched earlobes.

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What causes earlobe damage?

Fashions and trends come and go, but the skin on our earlobes isn’t a fan. There are generally two causes where Dr. Frank is called upon to repair earlobe damage: trauma or stretching.

Trauma is often the result of wearing large hoop earrings that can catch on things. You may have been taking off a sweater or just brushing your hair. You may have picked up a small child and he or she was enamored with your earrings and before you know it was grabbing and pulling one. If the earring catches or is pulled, it can tear right through the bottom of the lobe.

Today’s earrings have also become heavier and wider. This isn’t good for your earlobe skin. The weight can pull down and enlarge the original earring piercing to the degree it is visible to others. Earrings are also growing in diameter, the ultimate example being gauged. Gauges are discs placed in the earlobe. If left in place long enough, when these gauges have removed the hole they created cannot close up and will need surgery to do so.

How is earlobe surgery performed?

These are outpatient procedures performed in our beautiful Calgary office with the patient under only local anesthesia. Reshaping or resizing your earlobes is called labioplasty, a type of otoplasty.

Once the patient is locally anesthetized, Dr. Frank works with the skin, removing excess skin in cases of sagging or stretching, or bringing ripped skin back together in a repair. A small amount of skin is removed to create a better incision to stitch back together and heal with a minimal scar. These are simple procedures that are very satisfying as Dr. Frank’s surgical expertise enables him to make the incision scar very thin. This scar fades very quickly in the months after these procedures.

Can earlobe surgery repair a fully torn earlobe?

When the earlobe tears, it usually tears all the way through. A complete tear actually makes the surgery a bit more straightforward, as Dr. Frank has a line to work with. As mentioned above, he may take a bit of the surrounding skin off to create a cleaner incision that will heal quite well and leave only the faintest scar.

Who is a good candidate for earlobe repair?

Unlike ear pinning, which is a common procedure performed on children to correct protruding ears, Dr. Frank performs earlobe repair to fix earlobes that have been torn by earrings or trauma or have been stretched by the prolonged wearing of large gauges, circular plugs placed into the earlobe.

If you no longer want to wear your gauges, odds are when you remove them your earlobe is stretched and loose. This is because the skin has been stretched to a degree for a period of time that it cannot tighten back down to its former degree of tightness.

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With a torn earlobe, either by having a large hoop earring catch on something or tearing the earlobe through some trauma, the skin will not heal back together in a cosmetically appealing way. Sometimes patients who have waited to see if their ear would heal on its own wonder if they have missed their chance to repair it surgically. This is not the case. Dr. Frank simply takes a bit of the adjacent skin that has healed off to create a clean incision that heals nicely.

“Dr Frank and his staff were amazing from consultation to procedure. I had my procedure two days ago and zero discomfort, no pain and no bruising. I highly recommend him and his team!”

Can I have my ears pierced again after the recovery?

After this surgery with Dr. Frank, you’ll have to let your ear or ears fully heal. This will take at least 6 months. At that point, you can have your ears pierced again. The only thing to be cautious about is the placement of the new piercing, which cannot be on the incision scar or just above it. The scar is weaker than the surrounding tissue so it will tear more easily. Piercings on either side of your vertical incision are fine.

What is recovery like after earlobe repair surgery?

This is a relatively short recovery. The patient can usually return home or go back to work immediately. The earlobe doesn’t have many nerves, so the pain is not extreme and can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medication. You’ll need to apply prescription antibiotic ointment to the incision regularly. Your sutures will usually come out in 7-10 days when any swelling resolves.

What will my scarring be like after earlobe repair?

Patients typically end up with a faint vertical scar. This becomes less and less visible as time passes. During your initial recovery, it helps to not let the incision have sun exposure, so cover your ears with 30+ SPF sunscreen, once the incision is healed after 4 weeks.

What are the risks of earlobe repair?

These are very low-risk procedures with Dr. Frank. He only uses local anesthesia, and reactions to Lidocaine are quite rare. The earlobe doesn’t have any nerves, so you cannot have any loss of function or other nerve damage. The main risk is infection. If you keep the area clean, use an antibiotic ointment, and keep an eye on your healing, you should have no worries.

How long does earlobe repair take?

Split earlobe repairs usually take approximately 1 hour. Stitches will then be removed one week after your surgery.

Can I still have earlobe repair if I didn’t have it done immediately?

Sometimes Dr. Frank will have a potential patient ask about these surgeries assuming they aren’t candidates because the injury was not addressed immediately. That’s not the case; these injuries don’t have to be recent to be repaired. If the patient, for instance, split her earlobe and was hoping it would heal on its own, yet it hasn’t, she can come to our offices on 24 Ave in Calgary and it can still be repaired. The only difference is that Dr. Frank will have to remove the edge of the healed skin at the tear.

Will a torn earlobe heal on its own?

As with any injury or wound to the skin, torn earlobes will heal on their own. But they won’t heal as they were before. That means the skin won’t come back together and mesh. A torn earlobe usually will heal leaving an open triangle at the bottom of the ear. That’s because the skin pulls back a bit on each side of the tear. This will heal and close, but cosmetically it won’t look good.

What are the benefits of having earlobe repair surgery?

When your earlobe is stretched and there is a large hole in the middle of it, that can be a little distracting when another person is talking with you. The same is true of a former earlobe tear that has healed unevenly or maybe not fully healed at all.

These are not difficult procedures. Dr. Frank uses his board-certified surgical skills to repair the damaged earlobe with the goal of the incision scar being as fine as possible. These scars become basically invisible relatively quickly.

There’s really no reason to not have a damaged earlobe repaired.

What type of anesthesia is used for earlobe repair surgeries?

Dr. Frank performs these procedures with the patient under only local anesthesia.

Will I have permanent stitches or dissolvable stitches?

People often assume they will receive dissolvable sutures, but in areas where scarring can occur, such as the ears, it’s more likely Dr. Frank will use permanent/removable sutures. The reason for this? Dissolvable sutures do not dissolve for 60 days, whereas nonabsorbable sutures can be removed as soon as one week after surgery.

To understand this better, you need to know that dissolvable sutures don’t spontaneously dissolve. The body creates an inflammatory response to the foreign objects (the sutures) and gradually breaks them down over the course of weeks or even months. That’s why dissolvable sutures are used on the inside or underneath the skin. These sutures can be deeper, holding the healing incision together, and they do not need to be surgically removed later.

But you do not want an inflammatory process on exterior skin where scarring could be a problem. The inflammatory process can cause injury to the pigment producing skin cells around the suture, creating white marks or scars that run perpendicular to the scar. This doesn’t always happen, but it’s not worth the risk.

What kind of results can I expect after earlobe repair surgery?

Our ears usually go unnoticed…until they don’t. As with children who have protruding ears, a torn or stretched earlobe can be quite obvious and distracting to others talking with you or otherwise in close proximity. But surgical repair with Dr. Frank leaves nothing but a faint vertical scar, which becomes less and less visible with every passing week.

After about 10-12 weeks your earlobe will be fully healed, and you can have it pierced again. You do need to be sure to not have the new piercing placed in the scar or just above the scar. That’s because the scar tissue is weaker than your original skin, so it will re-tear more easily. Have the new piercing placed on either side of the scar.

If Dr. Frank repaired your earlobe due to stretching caused by large gauges, it would be a good idea to opt for a new fashion statement moving forward.

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