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Earlobe repair, or earlobe reduction surgery, is a collective term to refer to a group of ear plastic surgery procedures designed to reshape, resize and repair the earlobe.
This can include earlobe reduction, earlobe repair, stretched earlobe surgery, ear fold surgery and keloid ear surgery.
There are a number of reasons why a person may need earlobe repair surgery. The procedure may be required to correct genetic earlobe size and shape abnormalities, or those caused by external factors, such as wearing heavy ear jewellery, or the aging process.
Just like the skin elsewhere on the body, earlobes are not immune to the effects of aging.
As a person ages, their skin loses elasticity, causing sagging and wrinkling. The aging process causes earlobes to droop and lengthen.
Wearing heavy earrings over a prolonged period of time can also cause earlobes to droop further and faster than they would do naturally. Heavy earrings can stretch the pierced hole, meaning that earrings can no longer be worn without falling out. In the worst case scenario, weighty earrings can cause the lobe to split completely. Earlobe repair surgery is also frequently used to reverse the damage caused by tribal jewellery - jewellery specifically designed to stretch the earlobes.
Earlobe repair surgery is a quick and straightforward procedure to improve the appearance of the earlobe, restoring the patient’s self-confidence.
Our expert surgeons use different surgical techniques depending on the nature of the problem or damage to the earlobe.
Stretched, split or torn earlobes require the reconstruction of the soft tissue. Sometimes it may be necessary to cut away damaged excess skin before suturing the earlobe back together to create a pleasing, natural shape.
Occasionally, non-surgical dermal fillers are used to plump out saggy skin and transferred fat is used to improve skin quality.
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Here at the Cadogan Clinic, we handpick the very best surgeons in their field to carry out your ear lobe repair surgery. These experts are highly qualified and experienced, having carried out this type of surgery many, many times. You can be assured you are in the very best hands.
Mr. Hazim Sadideen
Aesthetic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon / GMC: 6143207
Mr. Hazim Sadideen is a Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon. He graduated from Guy's, King's and St. Thomas...See Full Profile
Mr. Edmund Fitzgerald O'Connor
Specialist Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon
Mr Edmund Fitzgerald O’Connor is a fully qualified Specialist Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon. He focuses on providing the highest quality of care to all his patients. Putting patient safety, patient experience and patient outcomes first in all that he does...See Full Profile
Mr. Naveen Cavale
Plastic, Reconstructive & Cosmetic Surgeon / GMC: 4190952
Mr. Naveen Cavale is a fully qualified and fully accredited UK Plastic Surgeon who graduated from University College London and the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh...See Full Profile
A torn or split earlobe is a common injury where ear piercing holes split downwards, sometimes leaving the bottom of the earlobe split in two. This is a visible cosmetic deformity that is not often easily hidden, particularly if the person in question has short hair. It can cause considerable distress and have an adverse impact on a person’s mental health and self-confidence. Wearing heavy earrings over a long period of time is the most common cause of a split earlobe.
Torn earlobes can also be caused by a sudden, forceful pulling of the earring. A child or pet grabbing an earring can cause this tearing. Sometimes larger earrings can get caught on clothing and the result can be an earlobe tear.
Earlobe expansion is when the pierced hole has been slowly dilated using progressively larger earrings. Once the hole reaches a certain size, it will not contract back to its original size. As a rule of thumb, a skin tunnel measuring 10mm or more in diametre will not go back to its original size. From this point, only surgery will help to correct the problem.
This type of expansion is a long-established tribal practice but this form of body modification has enjoyed an increase in popularity in the West over the past decade. It is common for people who may have used earlobe expanders ten years ago to have changed their minds and seek surgery to return their earlobes back to a more natural size and shape. It is very difficult to hide stretched earlobes, particularly if you do not have long hair which can easily conceal the problem.
As well as being an aesthetic issue, stretched ear lobes can also cause physical pain and what is known as an ‘ear blow out’. This occurs when the skin inside the earlobe is forced out through the rear of the piercing.
It is also worth noting that you don’t have to have pierced ears to suffer a torn or split earlobe. Clip-on earrings which are too tight have been known to restrict blood flow to the earlobe, leading to necrosis (tissue death), causing a split earlobe. Congenital deformities can also be responsible for split earlobes. This includes rare cases of congenital cleft earlobes or cleft ear (pinna).
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To enquire about a consultation with a Earlobe Repair / Reduction specialist, please complete the form:
Why Do People Have It?
For many men and women, the size and shape of their earlobes can cause unhappiness and insecurity.
Whilst genetics plays the biggest role when it comes to earlobe shape and size, it is also true that external factors such as heavy jewellery and age can impact the size and shape of the earlobe, often in an asymmetrical fashion.
Ear plastic surgery procedures such as earlobe repair and earlobe reduction are extremely effective, straightforward and quick surgical procedures to correct these conditions.
Ear plastic surgery procedures typically take less than an hour, and can be performed under local anaesthetic.
Who Is Suitable?
Cadogan Clinic considers individuals fit for the procedure, if all of the following are true of them:
Full or partial splitting of the earlobes is very common, particularly among women. Fortunately, a split, torn or stretched earlobe is easily fixed.
Before the procedure starts, a local anesthetic will be administered to numb the area. One or both earlobes can be treated during the procedure.
During the surgery, the surgeon will need to make incisions to open the earlobe ready for reshaping. Excess skin is cut away before the lobe is stitched back together using a special technique called ‘W-plasty’, which utilises zig zag stitching in order to prevent notching during the healing process. Depending on which type of sutures are used, these will either dissolve or will be removed at a future appointment. The sutures used in earlobe repair are very fine, meaning they are subtle and are not easily noticed following surgery.
When it comes to stretched earlobes, these are harder to repair. With smaller holes and splits, it is easy to repair a lobe and restore a natural appearance. With larger holes, it is usually more difficult to repair and achieve a natural appearance. In order to repair a larger skin tunnel, the excess redundant skin will need to be cut away and skin flaps may be required to restore the earlobe and give a more natural result.
Keloid ear surgery targets keloids by surgically removing them, allowing healing and then re-piercing six weeks later. Without treatment earlobe keloids can grow from the site of the piercing, on both the front and the back of the ear and eventually can replace the whole earlobe.
Keloids are stimulated by an allergic response to the metal of the stud or sleeper of an earring. The typical sleeper is made of steel covered with a thin plating of gold – when this plating dissolves it exposes the underlying steel which contains impurities such as nickel that can stimulate the ear keloid.
Before your earlobe surgery, your consultant will discuss with you the likely surgical success rate, the individual risk of keloid and hypertrophic scarring and the potential risks of further trauma with re-piercing of the ear lobe.
Our earlobe repair surgeons are experts in their field and have performed this procedure many, many times. Our highly qualified and capable experts will ensure that you are left with the most natural result possible following your earlobe repair surgery.
There is no need to wear a special surgical garment after earlobe repair surgery.
Because earlobe surgery is often purely a cosmetic concern, it is not routinely funded by the NHS. If this is the case, private treatment is the only option available to you.
You may be eligible for NHS-funded treatment if you require earlobe surgery due to a birth deformity or because of a traumatic injury to the earlobe.
However with NHS waiting times adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, private treatment at the award-winning Cadogan Clinic will enable you to get seen more quickly.
A massive thank you to the Cadogan Clinic. I am very pleased with the results from my surgery. My patient advisor was extremely organised and made me feel reassured throughout the whole experience. My surgeon was excellent and so was the Clinic team - I could not have asked for a better service
I had a procedure at the Cadogan Clinic. From my first consultation, my surgeon was honest, straight forward, and precise. All the details and expectations of the surgery were fully explained, along with the after care. I am still in recovery, but the results already look fantastic; they delivered on all the promises that he made to me.
I would like to thank the Cadogan Clinic and my surgeon for the outstanding job he did on my complicated and difficult surgery. Mine was an unusual case, but I could not have had a better outcome. Throughout the whole process from my first contact with the clinic I had wonderful support. Someone was always on the end of the phone, and I really appreciated the support
A huge thank you to the Cadogan Clinic who looked after me whilst having surgery. They treated me with so much care and it was truly appreciated. The care from the nurses was wonderful, and I genuinely felt that they really cared. First class service from the start. I also had follow-up calls the day after, couldn’t ask for more. A huge thank you to all involved
The Cadogan Clinic and their surgical and nursing staff were excellent throughout my experience with them. The 24/7 nursing support in particular was a huge comfort to me, and I found them extremely responsive
I wanted to say a big thank you to the Cadogan Clinic, I am so happy with the results from my surgery. I can’t thank my patient advisor enough for being my support throughout my journey. I felt so reassured from my initial consultation with her and she followed me up closely at each stage. Would recommend highly.
I was nervous before my procedure, but I was put at ease by all the staff I encountered from my patient advisor, surgeon and the nursing staff. It was a huge reassurance to have access to the 24/7 on call nurse service immediately after my procedure also.
Three weeks ago I had advanced fat transfer surgery and I am over the moon with the results. My whole wellbeing has been uplifted and I am so much more confident and happy with myself. Thank you to the Clinic and my surgeon for their fantastic work and expertise
Your journey with the Cadogan Clinic will start with up to two consultations with one of our leading specialist plastic surgeons at our award-winning premises in Chelsea. These consultations will take between 30 and 60 minutes.
During your consultation, your surgeon will ask about your expectations for earlobe repair surgery and talk about what will happen during the procedure. They will also explain how the procedure will affect you.
It is important that you are open and honest about what you hope to achieve during surgery to help ensure the best possible result. Your surgeon will be happy to answer any questions you may have at this point. It may be a good idea to write your questions down before attending the consultation. Having established what you want from the surgery, and what is possible given your anatomy, several key measurements will be made and standard clinical photography will be taken. Your medical history will be discussed and a physical examination will be carried out.
If your surgeon feels you are a good candidate for surgery, you are then invited to consider whether you would like to proceed with your earlobe repair or not following a two week 'cooling off' period.
If you decide to go ahead with surgery following the cooling off period, then it is important that you prepare for your earlobe repair.
Although there is no special preparation needed for earlobe repair surgery, there are several things that you should do before any surgery.
Stop smoking. Smoking decreases blood flow in the skin and can slow the healing process. If you smoke, your doctor will recommend that you stop smoking six weeks before surgery and during the recovery period. You should avoid smoking for at least 48 hours before your surgery.
Avoid taking certain medications. You should avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements in the week ahead of your earlobe repair. Taking these can increase bleeding.
Avoid alcohol. You should not drink any alcohol for 48 hours ahead of your ear lobe repair surgery. This is because alcohol can hamper the healing process.
In the six hours prior to surgery you must not consume food or any drink, other than small sips of clear fluid which will be allowed up to two hours before you are admitted to the clinic. Clear fluids include still water, black coffee and black tea.
On the day of your procedure we ask that you arrive for your admission an hour before the agreed start time of surgery. At this point a nurse will come and record blood pressure and other relevant tests, you will meet with your anesthetist and your surgeon who will make the final mark-ups. Earlobe repair surgery is carried out under a local anesthetic. This means you will be awake during surgery, but will not be able to feel the procedure. Earlobe repair typically takes between 30 minutes and one hour, depending on the extent of the repair and whether one or both ears are being operated on.
The incisions are typically made in a zig zag pattern, in order to lower the risk of leaving notches once the lobe has healed. The marked-up area is then removed with a scalpel before the surgeon will administer sutures.
After your earlobe repair surgery, you will be free to leave the clinic.
There is very little downtime associated with earlobe repair surgery and you can return to work the same day as your procedure should you wish. You will also be able to return to driving the same day.
However there are certain instructions that you should follow in order to ensure the best results from your earlobe repair surgery.
You should avoid washing the earlobes and the immediate surrounding area for three days, in order to allow the surgical site to settle. You should also refrain from exercise for three days and sexual activity for one week. We strongly advise you to sleep on your back for a week following surgery, avoid pressing your phone close to your ear and avoid exposure to direct sunlight in order to aid the scarring process.
If you follow this aftercare advice, you can expect a full recovery in four weeks and final results in six weeks after surgery.
Our nursing team provides a dedicated 24/7 oncall service during your recovery.
You will meet in person with our nursing team one week after surgery to check the incision sites. We also recommend meeting one of our aestheticians to discuss ongoing treatment to support the healing process if required.
A final check-up will take place six weeks after your earlobe repair surgery.
Complications are unlikely. That said, as with all surgery, some complications are possible, your surgeon will discuss each of these risks comprehensively at your consultation.
Our Surgical Patient Advisor, Ellie, answers our patients most frequently asked questions.
When should I have my earlobe repaired?
For some men and women, the appearance of their earlobes can cause unhappiness and insecurity. Stretched, torn or split earlobes may cause a person to feel self-conscious and this may have a negative impact on their mental health.
The presence of stretched, torn or split earlobes may also lead to a person being unfairly judged on their appearance, in extreme cases impacting upon work and romantic prospects.
Stretched, torn or split earlobes can affect a person’s facial symmetry and have a negative impact on facial proportions.
Ear lobe repair surgery is also suitable for people who have excessively small or large earlobes due to genetics, those who have earlobes that have sagged or dropped due to age or have keloids or prominent scars visible on the lobe or lobes.
Ear lobe repair surgery is suitable for patients aged 18 and over.
What results can I expect from earlobe repair?
The goal of ear lobe surgery is to restore the earlobes back to a natural appearance. All signs of tearing, splitting or stretching will have been eradicated. Scarring is minimal and once healed, there is no reason why you can’t get your ears pierced again.
As mentioned above, the larger the skin tunnel, the more difficult it is to repair. However our expert surgeons will strive to create the most natural-looking result possible given your anatomy.
You may want to consider combining your earlobe repair or earlobe reduction surgery with another cosmetic procedure to enhance the overall result. If you are experiencing age-related lengthening of the earlobes, an additional procedure like a facelift or anti-aging injectables may be a good choice. Our consultant will be able to go through the available treatments with you at your consultation.
Is earlobe repair painful?
Earlobe repair surgery is not painful as the procedure is carried out under a local anesthetic. This means you will be awake for the procedure, but will not be able to feel any pain.
There will be minimal pain, soreness or discomfort in the days after the surgery, but this can be controlled using over-the-counter painkillers. However the recovery process is usually largely painless.
There may be some bruising or swelling after the surgery, but this is only temporary and will disappear within a few weeks of the procedure.
If you have any concerns, you should discuss this with your surgeon at your consultation.
Will I be left with scars following earlobe repair?
You should expect small scars on the ears following ear lobe repair surgery. These will look red in the immediate period after surgery, but will eventually fade and become pale and barely noticeable. There should be no obvious signs of scarring or the previous piercing within four to six months after your surgery.
Repairing the damage caused by tribal ear jewellery requires a much more involved procedure than repairing a simple ear lobe tear caused by a split piercing hole. This type of procedure can leave a permanent scar which may be more noticeable.
You may wish to consider the Cadogan Clinic Scar Management Programme. All patients undergoing surgical procedures with us are eligible for this treatment. This may involve the use of silicone gels or sheets, ICON Fractional laser treatment or LED light to minimise the risk of visible scarring. All patients also receive post-operative wound care and advice under the supervision of our Tissue Viability Nurse, Sabina.
It is important that you avoid exposure to direct sunlight when recovering from ear lobe repair surgery. This is because extended exposure to sunlight can cause hyperpigmentation of the incision lines. You should follow all the aftercare instructions issued by your surgeon to minimise the risk of scarring.
Will I be able to wear earrings again after earlobe repair?
The good news is that in most cases it is possible to wear earrings again following earlobe repair surgery.
However we would advise waiting for six to eight weeks before having your ears re-pierced following ear lobe surgery to allow for the scar to heal. If you re-pierce too soon, the earring may rip through the incision, potentially resulting in a separated earlobe which may require further surgery.
Attempting to pierce the ears too soon, before they have had the chance to recover from ear lobe surgery, could damage the tissue, causing pain or irritation.
We would advise re-piercing the earlobe in a slightly different place to the original piercing hole. As this part of the lobe has already been damaged and repaired, this makes it weaker, increasing the risk of another earlobe split. We recommend that you inform the person who is piercing your ears about your previous earlobe repair surgery.
What are the risks for earlobe repair?
Earlobe repair surgery is considered to be low-risk procedure. This means that it is highly unlikely that there will be any complications.
However, just like any other surgical procedure, there is still the potential for complications arising from earlobe repair surgery.
Your surgeon will discuss the potential risks and complications with you at your initial consultation.
Earlobe repair surgery is carried out under local anesthetic. These are generally very safe and major side effects are rare. However you may experience the following:
A handful of people experience temporary side effects from a local anesthetic. These may include:
These problems usually pass, but you should inform your surgeon or our nursing team if you experience any of these effects.
If you have any concerns about the potential risks of ear lobe repair surgery, please feel free to raise these at your initial consultation.
How much does earlobe repair cost
The cost of earlobe repair surgery at the Cadogan Clinic varies depending on a number of factors. These include whether you require one or both earlobes repaired, whether you require an earlobe reduction and the complexity of the repair (for example, reversing large skin tunnels).
If your earlobe repair surgery is a revision treatment, this will also be reflected in the cost.
At your initial telephone discussion with your patient advisor, they will be able to provide further expectations on the cost of treatment after discussing your desired outcome and your preferred practitioner with you. This is only a guide and is not a substitution for a consultation with your practitioner.
Your practitioner will advise you of the price of your chosen treatment before you decide whether or not to proceed with treatment.
If you are unsure of the price of treatment or diagnostic tests, please confirm with your practitioner before treatment is carried out.
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