Stretching or gauging of earlobe piercings is a practice that has existed in many cultures—ancient Egyptians, Mayans, and many Asian and African tribes—over centuries, and has found popularity in the US in the last few decades. While stretching the earlobe tissue to accommodate a variety of jewelry and plugs is considered by many to be a unique form of self-expression and symbolic or cultural meaning, some individuals may want repair of earlobe gauging. Whether a person has grown tired of his or her gauges, or faces practices prohibitive against gauging in hiring or gaining admittance to certain armed forces organizations, repair of gauged earlobes may be a great treatment option.
While every person has individually unique anatomy, in general a 0g (8mm) piercing is considered a so-called “point of no return,” meaning the stretched piercing is unlikely to shrink back to a “normal” piercing size on its own. Stretched or even torn earlobe tissue, if bothersome to the patient, can be repaired via a small surgical procedure usually performed in the office, with the help of injectable local anesthesia. While earlobe repair is a commonly performed procedure across all age groups and genders, Earlobe repair for gauged lobes is becoming increasingly popular as people’s aesthetic views change, and as younger patients with gauges seek employment where gauging is seen in a negative light.
How does earlobe repair for gauged earlobes work?
“This is usually a minor surgical office-based procedure, with the patient awake and comfortable with numbing medicine,” says Dr. Fishman in describing repair of gauged earlobes. She starts treatment with injection of lidocaine, or a local anesthetic, to numb of “freeze” the earlobes, after designing the proposed repair. Once the anesthetic takes effect, Dr. Fishman trims, repositions, and resews the tissues of the earlobe to create a natural-appearing and pleasing result. “Some tissue may be too long or too stretched to keep,” says Dr. Fishman, “and I will often remove sections of it entirely.” Other parts of the earlobe Dr. Fishman moves and reorients to create the contour and appearance of an unstretched lobe. A few sutures, both on the inside and the outside of the earlobe incisions, complete the repair, Dr. Fishman says. Depending on the patient, the earlobe can be re-pierced immediately after the repair procedure; if not, Dr. Fishman advises the patient heal for 2-3 months before getting re-pierced.
What are the benefits to gauged earlobe repair?
“Just like the many women and men with stretched or torn earlobes from non-gauged piercing, our patients with gauges sometimes simply don’t like how their earlobes look or support earrings,” says Dr. Fishman, “and repair of gauged earlobes is a straightforward, effective way to help this.” Whether a patient feels insecure about their appearance or is interviewing for a job that does not allow gauges, repair of gauged lobes effectively takes away the signs of gauging. The procedure is minor in invasiveness and low in risk; in general, repair of a gauged earlobe takes less than an hour in Dr. Fishman’s practice. The recovery from earlobe gauging repair is usually pretty unremarkable, says Dr. Fishman; “I normally put a discrete, tan, paper tape dressing onto the earlobe and ask patients to take it easy from a physical activity perspective for a few days,” she relates.
Good candidates for repair of gauged earlobes are those with realistic expectations of the treatment, are in good health, and have concerns about gauged or ripped ears.
Finally, earlobe repair is a surgery; even though it is minor, it still comes with risks. The more common risks with earlobe repair are bleeding, bruising, infection, asymmetry, or the need for additional surgery or treatment. The scars from earlobe repair, while present forever, should become inconspicuous over time.
Are you bothered by your gauged earlobes? Contact us to discuss treatment with our expert team.