Why do I know how to pierce ears?

I do know how to pierce ears, and it’s not because I went on a piercing rampage as a teenager.  Nor did I ever work at Claire’s.  Many plastic surgeons occasionally pierce ears, and it’s because we repair torn or stretched earlobes.  After I spend time repairing a torn earlobe, I would much rather pierce that ear myself after it’s healed than send my patient off to the mall.  Plus, that ear piercing gun is pretty fun.

Courtesy of office.com

Courtesy of office.com

So why might a person need an earlobe repaired?  If you’ve ever caught an earring while putting on your sweater, you can easily imagine how that earring can pull right through your earlobe.  This happens during a fight occasionally as well.  Of course, many people intentionally stretch their earlobes out with increasingly larger earrings.  I repair these as well, and the good news is that it is much easier than removing a tattoo.  This can be done in the office, as well.

So how is it done?  For a torn earlobe, these can be repaired anytime after the injury.  The skin around the tear is carefully trimmed away, and the torn part is then sutured back together.  Stretched earlobes are a little more complicated, but essentially the skin around the center hole and part of the stretched earlobe are trimmed away, and the remaining skin is rearranged back to form a normal earlobe.  There is little downtime with either of these procedures, but you cannot pierce your ears again until the incision is fully healed (at least 6-8 weeks).

You can see what a stretched earlobe repair looks like here.  On a final note, these procedures are not covered by insurance, as insurance companies consider them to be cosmetic.  The only exception would be suturing up a traumatic ear injury, i.e. if your earring has just pulled through your ear, fixing the tear with stitches would be considered medically necessary.

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Disclaimer: This webpage is for general information only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical illness, or give any specific medical advice. Because medical knowlege is constantly evolving, I cannot guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of any information in this blog.

Questions? I'll do my best to answer any questions left in the comments!