Split earlobes are caused by wearing earrings or injury, and can be in the form of a complete tear or an elongated earlobe. Fortunately, we can repair split earlobes with a quick, minor procedure.
How split or elongated earlobes occur
Split or elongated ear lobes can result from either:
- The long-term use of heavy earrings.
- As a result of injury if the lobe is torn by a pulled earring.
There may either be a full length, complete tear of the lobe or there just may be an elongation of both the lobe and the earring hole. Certain modern ear piercings can also lead to an enlarged earring hole.
How we repair split earlobes
Split earlobe repair is performed under local anaesthetic, with each earlobe repair taking around 30 minutes to complete. You should be able to go home shortly after the procedure.
- The split or elongated area of the lobe is marked out to be removed as a wedge.
- Local anaesthetic is injected to numb the area and the earlobe will usually stay numb for around 3 to 4 hours following the injection.
- The split or elongated section of the lobe is carefully cut out.
- The wound is cauterised to stop any bleeding
- The two sides of the ear lobe are then brought together with stitches.
- A dressing is applied to the wound and will stay there until the sutures are removed.
- The skin stitches will need to be removed at around 7 to 10 days in the dressing clinic.
Risks of split earlobe repair
There will be a permanent scar over the earlobe after the repair. Most people who undergo split earlobe repair make a good recovery without any other significant complications. However, is important to be aware of the other potential risks of surgery:
- poor lumpy scarring (called hypertrophic or keloid scars)
- wound infection
- altered sensation
- poor healing or wound separation
- recurrence of the tear
- a notched earlobe next to the scar
After the repair, it should be possible for you to return to work the next day. The stitches used in the operation are usually removed at 7 to 10 days in the dressing clinic. Once the stitches are removed, the scar should be gently massaged daily with a simple aqueous moisturising cream or bio-oil.
Walking and other gentle exercises are fine straight after surgery, but swimming and heavy cardiovascular exercise (e.g. jogging or gym classes) should be avoided for 2 to 3 weeks because they can increase the risk of wound separation and wound infection.
Getting ears pierced and wearing earrings after earlobe repair
Following surgery, ear lobes should not be pierced and earrings should not be worn for at least 3 months. Before then, the scar is still weak and prone to tearing again especially if heavy earrings are worn once again.
The cost of a split or elongated earlobe repair
The cost of split earlobe repair itself can be from £700. But this varies according to
- The extent of the tear or elongation
- Whether one or both sides need to be repaired
Miss Sujatha Tadiparthi is an extensively trained and skilled plastic and reconstructive surgeon. Discover how she can help you by visiting her Top Doctors profile.