Earlobe Repair Surgery: Fixing Stretched or Ripped Earlobes

Written by Minas Constantinides, MD, FACS, Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon on February 7, 2020 12 Comments

earlobe repair example

Most patients who come to us with complaints about their earlobes have experienced one of three general issues: either the lobes have been stretched, torn, or are sagging due to aging. Fortunately, earlobe repair surgery is a simple, safe, and effective way to restore the ear to a more a natural appearance.

If you are considering an earlobe fixing surgery, here are the basic things to know:

Common Cosmetic Earlobe Issues

Stretched Earlobes

The earlobes are solely composed of skin and fat; there is no underlying bone or cartilage to help maintain its structure. This makes earlobes extremely susceptible to becoming stretched. Earlobe stretching can occur by accident, through either the constant wearing of heavy earrings or a positioning of piercings close to the edge of the lobe. Severe stretching can permanently alter the appearance of the ear.

Stretching can also be caused intentionally through ear gauging, which is the process of gradually expanding the hole created through traditional ear piercing by wearing gauges that increase in size. The practice, which results in a large hole in the lobe, has been practice by tribal cultures for many years but has become popular in Western cultures over the last decade. While the holes created by normal piercing can close (heal) naturally, stretch holes created through gauging can only be closed through surgical repair.

Torn Earlobes

Occasionally we treat patients with some form of earlobe tears, often the result of some form of trauma (either their earring got caught and tugged or it was pulled by a small child). Tearing of the earlobe can sometimes be severe, where the tear occurs from the pierce hole to the bottom of the lobe, literally splitting the lobe in half.

Earlobe Sagging

With normal aging, the earlobes (like the skin itself) begins to lose collagen and elasticity. This causes the lobes to sag, loose volume (appear thin), and become elongated. Aging can actually prevent the lobes from being able to support the weight of even small stud earrings.

What Is Earlobe Repair Surgery?

Earlobe repair surgery (also called earlobe restoration) is a simple in-office surgical procedure that can be performed to fix earlobe tearing, stretching, or sagging. The procedure begins with the ears being marked for surgical incision. Next, a local anesthetic is injected into the earlobe that makes the lobe numb for around two hours. Many patients state the only pain they feel is during this quick injection. The physician will then make incisions to remove (trim) stretched tissue and/or cut the skin around a tear. Finally, the earlobe is repaired with stiches.

How Long Does the Procedure Take?

While procedure time can differ based on patient need, most earlobe repair procedures take between 15 minutes and 1 hour to perform from start to finish.

Is Earlobe Repair Painful?

Patients usually state the only part of the procedure that is painful is the initial injection of a local anesthesia. Post procedure, most patients will only require ice and acetaminophen (Tylenol) to manage discomfort.

What is recovery like?

Downtime is minimal for earlobe repair surgery. The ears will be wrapped and bandaged for the first day post-procedure. Over the first week, the earlobes should be cleaned daily and antibiotic ointment applied to prevent infection. The patient should also avoid sleeping on or applying pressure to the lobe until the stitches are removed. Stitches can get wet in the shower after three days. Within a week, most patients will see their surgeon and have their stitches removed. Patients may notice a bright red scar where the incisions where made, which will fade away with continued healing. The repaired lobes should be protected from the sun with sunscreen and a hat for 3 months.

Can I pierce my ears after surgery?

It is possible to pierce the ears after earlobe repair surgery, as long as the new piercing does is not placed in the scar (to minimize the chance of future stretching or tearing). Patients will have to wait 3 months before re-piercing to allow for adequate healing.

Learn more about earlobe repair and other cosmetic ear surgery procedures on our Otoplasty page.

Minas Constantinides, MD, FACS

Dr. Minas Constantinides is a board-certified Facial Plastic Surgeon at Westlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in Austin, Texas. He is on the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) and is a Senior Advisor of the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ABFPRS).

12 Responses to “Earlobe Repair Surgery: Fixing Stretched or Ripped Earlobes”

  1. Avatar Charlynn says:

    how much is an earlobe repair if split

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Charlynn,

      Exact pricing can differ on need but most earlobe split repair is around $500 per ear. However, you may want to see a provider for an in-person assessment to get the final cost for your specific needs. If you are in Texas please give us a call at 512-328-3376 for a consultation!

      WD Staff

  2. Avatar Colleen says:

    I would like an earlobe reduction. Can someone give me a call?

  3. Avatar Danielle says:

    I was wondering how much it would cost to get stretched earlobes closed.

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Danielle,

      Sorry for the delay in replying to you. Cost can defiantly vary depending on the extent of the procedure. Gauge repair can range from $750 to $1,500. Torn earlobes are around $750 per ear.

      We hope that helps!

      WD Staff

  4. Avatar Emma says:

    My boyfriend’s stretched lobe split in half. Is it possible to suture the ends back together without completely closing his ear? He wants to keep it stretched and his ears were almost two inches.

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Emma,

      Thanks for the great question. I passed it by Dr. Constantinides and here is his response:

      Although the split earlobe can be repaired only partially along the bottom, it may not be strong enough to support a gauge & may split apart again.

      However, you may want to come in for an in person consultation which is the only way to determine how strong the repaired lobe will be.

      We hope that helps!

      WD Staff

  5. Avatar Tracey says:

    I would like to get both of my earlobe repaired the right is split and the left is not split just stretch from heavy earrings. Could someone please contact me for a estimate and hopefully a appointment?

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