Repair of Torn Earlobes
Although it seems like a minor problem, thousands of people with pierced ears have torn earlobes and with the popularity of body piercing the number will surely grow dramatically. The torn earlobes can result from the continual wearing of heavy earrings, trauma, getting earrings snagged on phone cords, pull over sweaters, bath towls, hairbrushes or children pulling them. The actual tear may be a partial tear or a full thickness tear that completely splits the earlobe. Torn earlobes bother patients from a cosmetic standpoint as they are unattractive and also because the patient either cannot wear earrings or the earrings tip or move out of place due to the large hole.
The above image shows a partial earlobe tear.
The repair of torn earlobes is a very simple process that takes about 15 minutes. Local anesthetic is injected in the earlobe to make it numb and depending upon the severity of the tear, there are several means of fixing it. Partial tears are treated by cutting out the pulled apart area and resuturing the hole. Total tears require a bit more surgery and are treated by excising the borders of the completely torn earlobe and placing dissolvable sutures on the front and back of the ear.
Dr. Niamtu has publilshed several articles on this procedure in the maxillofacial and dermatologic literature and was the first to publish a method on simultaneous piercing. SInce most patients don’t want to go without wearing earrings, Dr. Niamtu can repair the tear and at the same time place a special sterile earring stud through the stitches so the patient can heal with the new earring in place.
Although the technique is simple it requires finess to properly line up the earlobe to have a natural curve and shape. Dr. Niamtu also performs laser or radiowave surgery on earlobes that heal wiht a notch which sometimes happens in the best of hands.
The recovery is also simple. Generally dissolvable stitches are used and the patient can resume normal activities that do not place tension on the ear. The stitches dissolve in about a week and a fine linear scar is visible for several weeks and generally fades to an acceptable result. For the suture scar that does not heal gracefully, Dr. Niamtu will resurface it with the CO2 laser which dramatically improves it. If the ear is not pierced at the time of the surgery, the patient generally waits about a month to repierce the ear.
Dr. Niamtu also performs earlobe reconstruction on “piercings gone bad” where people intentionally stretch the earlobes or susain disfiguring tears of the ears or lobes from body piercng. He also treats keloids of the earlobes. Finally, many patients are born with very large earlobes and Dr. Niamtu frequently performs earlobe reduction in these patients to reduce the size of their earlobes.
The above pictures show several cases of earlobe repairby Dr. Joe Niamtu in Richmond, Virginia.
For more information about earlobe repair, earlobe reduction or earlobe keloids or other cosmetic facial surgery procedures see www.lovethatface.com.
Joe Niamtu, III DMD
Cosmetic Facial Surgery