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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.Get in touch
Time off work
A few days
After 1 day
After a few hours
After 2 weeks
2 - 4 weeks
Sleeping on back
2 - 4 weeks
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.
Cadogan Clinic considers individuals fit for the procedure, if all of the following are true of them:
Words from our clients:
"I was extremely satisfied with the care and treatment I received at the Cadogan Clinic. My surgeon was friendly and informative and explained the procedure fully. My procedure went very well and with the excellent care of the nursing staff, I made a speedy and full recovery. Would recommend to anyone."Eva Berry
"At the beginning before the operation the nurse taking care of me made me feel so comfortable. The surgeon and anesthetist helped me feel so calm. Fantastic before and after treatment"Scarlett Elliott
"The girls on the reception at the clinic were very pleasant and professional. The nurse who took out my stitches after my surgery was just lovely and took me through step by step what she was doing and she also recommended a great cream to use to help with healing."Georgina Nolan
“I was treated with care and provided with thorough knowledge about the procedure I was undertaking. My surgeon was very methodical (a perfectionist) and I felt I received A class treatment."Courtney O'Sullivan
"Outstanding experience from the first appointment to being discharged. Very professional, friendly and a fantastic outcome."Gemma Stevenson
"Reception staff very welcoming and efficient. Both nurses who I dealt with were fantastic, and the whole team (anaesthetist, surgeon etc) were friendly but professional, and really put my mind at ease. That I was able to stay later than I perhaps needed after my surgery to fit in with my husbands schedule was greatly appreciated."Emma Davies
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.
We have invited a selection of the country's very best consultants to join us at the Cadogan Clinic so that you can be sure that whatever the nature of your treatment, you will be seeing one of the top practitioners in the country.
Below you will find some key information to help you prepare for surgery and make necessary arrangements to ensure you have the support you need and that everything runs smoothly on the day.
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.
02.Leading up to procedure
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.
03.On the day
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.
The Patient Journey. A breakdown of what you can expect on your journey with us
We are deeply invested in ensuring that every step of your surgical journey with us is as informative and reassuring to you as it can be. This article outlines what you can expect at each stage of the journeyThe Patient Journey
What is a torn, split or expanded earlobe?
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).
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.
Founded in 2004 by world renowned plastic surgeon Mr Bryan Mayou, we now work with over 100 leading consultants and successfully treat over 20,000 patients each year. We have been winning industry awards since inception.About Us
Best in Class Facilities
All of our treatments take place at our beautiful boutique premises in Chelsea. We have six consulting rooms and five operating rooms, as well as a dedicated pre and post-operative suite, and a full team of specialist nursing staff.Our Clinic
A Strong Tradition of Innovation
We were founded in 2004 by world renown plastic surgeon Mr Bryan Mayou, best known for his pioneering work in the area of liposuction, lasers and microvascular surgery. We continue to collaborate with pioneers in our field.Our History
At Home in Sloane Street, London
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We offer surgical consultations in London, Birmingham, Chelmsford and Bristol, and attract international patients from all corners of the globe such as as the USA, the Middle East and Europe.Get in Touch
Complications are rare although, as with all surgery, possible. Your surgeon will discuss each of these risks comprehensively at your consultation. Read our FAQ section for more information.
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