Earlobe stretching has been a method of human adornment for thousands of years, documented in historical finds from King Tutankhamun to the Gautama Buddha. More recently, the practice has made its way to contemporary aesthetic practices in the United States, and alongside it the procedures that reverse and repair earlobes when a stretched piercing is no longer desired.
Even if earlobe stretching sounds like the furthest thing from your personal beauty pursuits, wearing heavy earrings can also cause a piercing to stretch over time. Trauma to the ear can cause tears or stretched skin that requires repairing. At Deschutes Dermatology, Dr. Carter is skilled and experienced with surgical and cosmetic procedures such as earlobe reconstruction.
To prepare for a stretched earlobe repair, removing plugs or jewelry can be helpful in order to permit the natural elasticity of the skin to start working on shrinking the tissue towards its original state. On the day of treatment, local anesthesia is injected in the area, allowing the procedure to be essentially pain-free. Once the skin is numb, in straightforward cases, the lobes can be repaired by creating incisions on either side of the piercing or tear in order to fuse the two sides, then utilizing a few sutures to ensure proper healing. Typically, this repair takes less than 30 minutes per side. In more difficult cases with very elongated lobes, the repair procedure is more complex, taking up to an hour on each side. Afterward, we recommend using petroleum jelly on the wound to keep it moist and protected from the open air, promoting healthy healing. Sutures are removed after a week or so and further instructions are given to minimize scarring.
Repaired earlobes are re-pierceable after they are fully healed—usually in six months or more. The piercer should avoid placing a new piercing directly over your scar, as scarring significantly weakens the skin. Heavy or dangling earrings that may get caught on clothing should also be avoided so that the healing process can be as quick and pain-free as possible.
Contact us at Deschutes Dermatology to schedule a consultation!