Admittedly, some of the beauty or style decisions people make when they are young are things they come to regret when they are older. Who hasn’t looked back on a picture of themselves at their high school prom and grimaced at either hair or makeup decisions or questioned their teenage dress sense? While thankfully evidence of past questionable hair, makeup and fashion choices only exists in pictures, some style decisions haunt a person for years or decades to come. One example is the hastily inked tattoo that you end up covering up or lasering off years later. Gauged earlobes, or lobes that are stretched out until the original piercing becomes a big circle, are another example.
The Appeal of Gauges
If you have your ears pierced, you might remember what it felt like to get the piercing. Perhaps you went to the mall with your parent or friends and had the clerk at an accessories store shoot the earrings into your lobes. While many people stop there, or have a few other piercings up and down their earlobes, others decide to stretch out the original, tiny holes.
The process of gauging, or stretching, the earlobes can take years. Some people decide to stretch their earlobes a small amount, wearing a relatively small disc in the lobe for years. Others start with a smaller gauge, then work their way up, inserting bigger and bigger discs into the earlobes. While some gauges are just a 1/4 inch in diameter, others are a couple inches wide.
Getting gauged earlobes is a bit of a commitment. The wider the hole becomes, the less likely it is to shrink back to regular size on its own. While the style might have had a good run, being popular for about 20 years, many have had stretched their earlobes in the past are now at the point where they are either tired of the look or are on the job market and want to present a more professional appearance. If the ears have been stretched enough not to bounce back on their own, surgery might be your only option to reduce the size of the hole in your earlobe.
Surgery to repair a torn earlobe is typically performed to fix lobes that have been pulled by heavy earrings over a period of years or remove keloid scars that have formed after the ears are pierced. Earlobe repair surgery is generally pretty straightforward and simple. Unlike the process of stretching out the earlobes, the surgery is generally completed in an hour or less. The length of the surgery depends in part on the complexity of the earlobes and the size of the gauge.
The surgery is more than a matter of simply stitching up the hole in the earlobe. If the hole is very large, the surgeon may actually have to remove a piece of the earlobe, then reshape the remaining lobe to bring it back to its natural curve and shape.
Usually, the procedure is performed using a local, topical anesthetic. Although the patient won’t feel anything, he or she is generally awake and alert during the surgery. Unlike other surgeries, most patients are able to get themselves back home on their own immediately afterwards. You may find that you’re able to go back to your regular activities right away, too.
Although you can get back to a regular life immediately, you will need to give your earlobes some time to heal. It can take up to six months before your earlobes are fully healed and the results of the surgery are fully visible.
Talking to a Surgeon
If you’ve decided that stretched earlobes are no longer your style, or if you’re trying to get a professional job or join the military, it might be worth discussing your options with a plastic surgeon. At your consultation, your surgeon will most likely recommend you take out the discs or stretchers you wear, to give your ears a chance to shrink back.
It might take a few months for your earlobes to shrink, if they are going to. At that point, the surgeon will have a better idea of what he or she is working with and may recommend the surgery. If your holes were small enough, they might shrink back to a more appropriate size on their own, with no surgery needed.
At the Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute near Washington, DC, Dr. George Bitar and Dr. Robert Centeno see a number of patients who are looking for a fix for stretched out or otherwise damaged earlobes. Repairing the lobes can be quick and simple, so there’s no reason to go through life with ears that embarrass you. To learn more about your earlobe repair options, call the practice at (703) 206-0506 today.
George Bitar, MD, FACS is an award-winning, board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon, the Founder and Medical Director of Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Virginia. He specializes in the latest surgical and minimally invasive techniques to scar management and reduction. Dr. Bitar is involved in groundbreaking research and education in plastic surgery and has authored numerous articles, abstracts, and chapters.