Ears

Split or stretched earlobe repair

What is it?

Split earlobe repair and stretched earlobe repair are forms of reconstructive plastic surgery designed to correct split, ripped, torn, drooping or stretched earlobes. They are one of the most common forms of plastic surgery.

Sometimes people are born with overly large or deformed earlobes. However, more often, their earlobes may have become damaged as a result of:

  • wearing very large or heavy earrings
  • trauma or injury to the earlobe (for example during sport or as a result of an earring getting pulled or caught)
  • gauging, which is the process of inserting progressively larger and larger piercings in order to create a large hole in the earlobe. This requires stretched earlobe repair surgery.

What to expect

Stretched earlobe repair surgery may take slightly longer than split earlobe repairs because there is larger hole to repair. An incision is made in the earlobes and then they are stitched together with sutures to repair the hole. It is a relatively quick and simple procedure conducted under local anaesthetic. Typically it takes 20-30 minutes per earlobe. With split earlobe repairs, sometimes you can have your ear repierced on the same day.

What results can be achieved?

After earlobe repair surgery, you will be left with small scars on the ears, which will fade to a pale silvery colour and become virtually invisible. After approximately six months your earlobes should look almost completely normal with no obvious signs of the previous piercing. Stretched earlobes can normally be re-pierced six months after surgery.

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Common risks

All surgery carries risks and cosmetic surgery is no exception. After earlobe repair surgery you are likely to experience:

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  • Minimal discomfort – this can be treated with over the counter painkillers.
  • Minor swelling and bruising – your surgeon will advise you how long this will last based upon your individual procedure.
  • Scarring – initially the scars will be red but they will fade over time to be virtually invisible. If you choose to repierce your ears, the scars will be hidden beneath your earrings.
  • Dissolving skin stitches not holding properly – if this occurs the stitches may need to be removed under local anaesthetic.
  • Stitch granuloma – sometimes a tender lump or abscess can occur at the stitch site. This is generally more common where the skin is thinner, such as in front of or behind the ear. The stitch may need to be removed or it may be treated with antibiotics.
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Your surgeon will give you aftercare advice to help you to mitigate any symptoms and promote more rapid recovery.

More serious risks
The symptoms listed above are normally temporary or without serious consequences. There are some more serious risks associated with cosmetic surgery, which will be discussed with your surgeon as part of the initial consultation.

Prominent ear correction

What is it?

Ear correction surgery is designed to alter the shape or size of your ears or to pin them back if they stick out. Pinning back the ears – also known as otoplasty – is usually carried out on children (above the age of 5), although adults can also have the procedure.

What to expect

Ear correction surgery is normally carried out under general anaesthetic in children and local anaesthetic in adults. It entails making a small incision behind the ear to expose the ear cartilage. If necessary some cartilage will be removed before the ears are stitched into the required shape and position.

Your ears will be sore or numb for a few days after surgery. They may continue to tingle for a few weeks. You may need to wear a bandage or head band initially to prevent infection and help the new ear shape mould better. Bruising can last for several weeks and there may be pain or discomfort, which can be treated with over the counter painkillers.

It is recommended that children who undergo the procedure should be off school for one to two weeks. Contact sports like judo or rugby should be avoided for 12 weeks and swimming for eight weeks.

In some cases, it may be possible to use splints to correct prominent ears. This is particularly effective in babies as their ears are soft and malleable.

What results can be achieved?

Prominent or misshapen ears can cause self-consciousness and may attract unwanted comments and even bullying at school. Parents often choose to address the problem by undertaking corrective plastic surgery. There is a good success rate and both children and adults often say that it is a relief to be able to shift attention – their own and other people’s – away from an area of their body that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Possible Risks

All surgery carries risks and cosmetic surgery is no exception. Fortunately, there are rarely any significant complications associated with brow-lift surgery, which is a commonly performed procedure.

Common risks

All surgery carries risks and cosmetic surgery is no exception. After surgery you are likely to experience:

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  • Scarring – following ear correction surgery, you will have a small scar behind each ear.
  • Pain, bruising, soreness, numbness or tingling. Any pain or discomfort can be treated with over the counter painkillers and is likely to go away by itself in time.

You may also experience:

  • Inflammation of the ear cartilage or a blood clot in the ear skin
  • Stiff ears – it can take several months for this to correct itself
  • Asymmetrical ears
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Your surgeon will give you aftercare advice to help you to mitigate any symptoms and promote more rapid recovery.

In some cases, unfortunately, surgery may be unsuccessful and your ears could start to protrude again. In this case you might need revision surgery.

More serious risks
The symptoms listed above are normally temporary or without serious consequences. There are some more serious risks associated with cosmetic surgery, which will be discussed with your surgeon as part of the initial consultation.

Plastic surgery alone cannot change your life but it can give you the confidence to make those changes for yourself.

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