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Dr. Barry Eppley

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Surgeon Dr. Barry Eppley

Plastic Surgery Case Study – Helical Rim Earlobe Reduction


Background: The ear has the most complex shape of any facial feature with its many convolutions and ridges. But because it is on the side of the head, it is not scrutinized as easily that of the eyes, nose and lips. The size of the ear is often overlooked unless it has abnormally big or too small. Ear size is often recognized in children because of its differential growth rate. The size of the ear develops quickly being almost fully grown as young as age 6 and certainly completely grown by puberty.

Adult Ear Reshaping Dr Barry EppleyThe height or vertical length of the ear differs between men and women. Studies have shown that male ears on average are longer being about 65mms. Women’s ears are not quite as long and have average lengths closer to just under 60mms. A significant part of the length of the ear is made up by the earlobe. The earlobe is different than the rest of the ear lacking any cartilage and being composed of only skin and fat. They make up about 1/3 of ear length and average about 20mms vertically.

Because the earlobe has no internal rigid structure, it is prone to growing (stretching) with ear ring wear and age. This can make the ear look longer as one ages. There are also some people who just naturally have a very longer ear and desire a vertically shorter one.

Case Study: This 40 year-old male felt that is ears were too long and wanted them reduced in length. By measurements from the top of the helix to the bottom of the earlobe they were 72mm. Both the earlobe and the top of the ear (superior 1/3) look big but the practical approach to reduction was to focus on the earlobes.

Right Helical Rim Earlobe Reduction result Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisLeft Helical Rim Earlobe Reduction result Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisUnder local anesthesia earlobe reductions were performed using a helical rim reduction method. This earlobe reduction technique places the excision along the edge of the earlobe so the scar is not visible. A total excision of 7mms of the lower edge of the  earlobe was done on each side.

Helical Rim Earlobe Reduction scars Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisThe vertical length of the ear can be reduced significantly and in a scar free manner with the helical rim excision method. In this case the ear length was reduced by 10%. The scars, while still healing after three months, were not hypertrophic and would go on to heal as a very fine line.

Case Highlights:

1) An acceptable aesthetic ear length is around 65mm for men and 60mms or less for women.

2) The earlobe makes up a significant part of the ear and is often the cause of an ear that is seen as too large or long.

3) Vertical ear shortening is most easily done by earlobe reduction using a helical rim reduction method which leaves no visible scars.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

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Dr. Barry EppleyDr. Barry Eppley

Dr. Barry Eppley is an extensively trained plastic and cosmetic surgeon with more than 20 years of surgical experience. He is both a licensed physician and dentist as well as double board-certified in both Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. This training allows him to perform the most complex surgical procedures from cosmetic changes to the face and body to craniofacial surgery. Dr. Eppley has made extensive contributions to plastic surgery starting with the development of several advanced surgical techniques. He is a revered author, lecturer and educator in the field of plastic and cosmetic surgery.

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