Earlobe reduction and earlobe repair surgery may not be subjects that many people talk about very often—but I actually perform a number of both of these procedures here at the San Francisco Plastic Surgery & Laser Center each month. There are a number of reasons that people seek out these procedures: Their earlobes have begun to sag and stretch with age. They overstretched their earlobes by wearing heavy, dangly earrings for too long. They stretched their earlobes on purpose with gauges, but now they’ve removed the gauges and want to return their earlobes back to their former size. Or perhaps their earlobes are naturally larger than average, and they want to make them more proportional to the rest of their ears.
Whatever your reasons might be, I have good news for you: earlobe reduction and reconstruction is actually pretty simple, and is definitely much less complicated than other forms of ear reshaping. The earlobe is essentially just skin and fat, and for a surgeon with otoplasty experience that makes it quite easy to deal with—unlike the rest of the ear, where cartilage makes the restructuring process far more delicate. The procedure does become slightly more complicated in cases where tissue has been lost, (in instances of severe tears or other ear injuries, for instance), because more reconstruction is involved, but in general earlobe surgery is rather straightforward.
Earlobe reconstruction can take different forms, but it’s always necessary to create raw edges by removing some skin, because it allows the tissue to bond together again. Sometimes I use what’s called “layered closure” for earlobe repair; in this approach, I removed a bit of tissue from the damaged or stretched edges and then bring them together using a combination of dissolvable sutures (in the deeper layers) and regular skin sutures (to be removed at a later date). Another option is the “z-plasty flap”; here, I cut the tissue of the earlobe in a special “z” pattern, which allows me to redistribute the tissue and sculpt the shape of the ear. This technique decreases the chance of scar notching. With both layered closure and the z-plasty flap method, you have the option of re-piercing your ears in the future—after they’ve finished healing, of course!
If you have stretched, damaged, or oversized earlobes, consider making an appointment to come see me at my offices for a consultation. I’d love for you to be the next patient I help with this easy fix!
Until next time, Dr. Usha Rajagopal