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Lend Me Your Ears

By Catherine Winters
Posted On Aug 07, 2019
Lend Me Your Ears

Quick and painless procedures can undo the damage caused by earrings and age.

Dangly earrings make a fashion statement, but you wear them at your peril. Whether you fall prey to an energetic toddler yanking on your hoops or suffer an earring-vs.-clothing snag, you can end up with a torn earlobe. What’s more, weighty earrings can stretch lobes. So can getting older. “Tissues lose collagen and elasticity, and gravity takes its effect on the earlobes, as it does on any part of the body,” says plastic surgeon Jennifer Walden, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. “A long earlobe is not a good look.”

Fortunately, whether your problem is a tear or a too-long lobe, restoration surgery can improve your self-esteem and appearance. Surgery is usually quick with very little risk or down time. Here’s how surgeons tackle two common earlobe issues.

Tear and Wear

An earlobe tear can be partial (incomplete) or full (complete)—meaning the tear has breached the bottom of the lobe, creating two flaps. “People are upset when that happens,” says Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Brent Moelleken, M.D. To repair a tear, he uses a scalpel to remove scar tissue from each edge of the tear, creating a fresh wound. He then aligns the edges of a partial tear and stitches them together. If the tear is complete, he rejoins the inside of lobe flaps with dissolvable sutures and then stitches the front and back of the earlobe together. The half-hour surgery is done under local anesthesia with injections of lidocaine to ease discomfort, and epinephrine to minimize bleeding. External stitches are removed within seven to 10 days. Cost varies depending upon where you live, but Dr. Moelleken charges about $1,500 to $2,000 per ear. Scarring is minimal and while you can re-pierce your ears, you have to wait six to eight weeks and avoid piercing too near the surgical site.

“Even though the incision appears healed and strong, it will always be weak,” says Dr. Moelleken. “If the piercing is put there, the earlobe will tear again.”

Stretched Out 

or earlobes that have elongated over time, Dr. Moelleken shortens them under local anesthesia by removing excess skin through a small incision. To restore firmness and fullness, he will then place filler in the lobe. Because fillers such as Juvéderm give temporary results, Dr. Moelleken also uses tissue harvested from the patient’s abdominal area. The procedure takes about an hour. Stitches are removed, or dissolve, within seven to 10 days but people can return to work almost immediately. Cost per ear is about $2,500.