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Earlobes in females are almost always adorned with either ear rings or stud wear for much of their life. Since the earlobe is the part of the ear that has no cartilage, any weight on the earlobe must be borne by the skin and the little bit of fat that lies between the front and back skin edges. This relatively flimsy bit of earlobe tissue is not too resistant to the prolonged wearing of heavy earrings or an inadvertent tug on a tangling earring. As a result, completely split earlobes or an elongated earlobe hole are very common ear problems that present in my Indianapolis plastic surgery practice. Most of what are seen are longstanding earlobe deformities that have gotten progressively worse.

The split earlobe repair is a simple office procedure that is done under local anesthesia. It is a complete excision and vertical closure of either a partial or complete earlobe tear. There is no downtime and one can resume normal activities immediately. The conventional wisdom is that that once the earlobe is repaired, it can be re-pierced again six to eight weeks later. I have used this approach throughout my entire practice and have yet to have a patient who has come back with a failure of the repair. Some plastic surgeons feel, however, that the earlobe cannot tolerate earring wear again because it will be forever be weak and recommend more complicated types of earlobe procedures. I find these rarely necessary.

One concern that some earlobe repair patients have is the time period until they can wear their earrings again. The split earlobe repair can be done so that the wearing of a stud earring can be done immediately. As part of the upper portion of the vertical earlobe closure, a small skin flap is raised from the inside of the split and rolled upward and closed. This recreates the bottom portion of the earlobe hole with fully lined skin. The remainder of the earlobe split is closed vertically as normal. The ear stud is put in at the end of the procedure. It can be taken in and out after surgery as desired.


Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

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