What is Earlobe?
The ear lobe has a special importance among facial structures. It is particularly important due to the practice in many parts of the world of piercing it in order to wear ear rings.
The ear lobe consists of skin and fat. Unlike the rest of the ear, it does not have any thick cartilage. Hence, it is easy to perforate an ear lobe. Many cultures encourage the piercing of the ear lobe for adorning jewellery.
Piercing the ear lobe adds to the possibility of ear lobe rupture. While some ear lobe tears may heal with time, many require medical attention.
Most of the times, ear lobe repair is needed due to damage induced by wearing heavy ear rings or other such jewellery. In some cases, it may be because of someone (mostly a child) tugging on the earlobe / ear ring.
Ear lobe repair can be classified as:
Incomplete cleft – this is usually bilateral and frequently found in elderly women who have worn heavy earrings for many years
Full cleft – usually unilateral, caused by direct local trauma like sudden pulling of earrings
There is another way of classifying earlobe repair:
The cleft extension does not go beyond half the distance between the initial orifice and the lower border of the ear lobe
The cleft extension goes beyond half of the distance between the initial orifice and the lower ear lobe border
Progressive cleft extension until it becomes a complete defect.
Most earlobe tears are operated upon using local anesthesia and a vasoconstrictor. In some instances, a second procedure may be needed to correct the defect.
For simple splits, surgeons use sutures to repair the earlobe. This operation can last for about an hour or so.
For droopy earlobes, the skin lining the tear is excised. Earlobe tears that do not reach the bottom may be treated immediately.
Complications from earlobe repair include keloids, hypo/hyper pigmentation and suture dehiscence in some individuals.
Pain, if any is minimal for earlobe repairs. It can be taken care of by over the counter medication.
It is important to note that ear lobe repair is different from otopalsty, or ear correction surgery.
Lobuloplasty is the surgical procedure prescribed to repair a split or torn earlobe. The cosmetic surgeon extends the split downwards to complete the ear.
He then stitches together the split with minimum sutures to make the ear whole again. The sutures are kept in place for a week after which the doctor will remove them during a follow-up visit.
The split/torn earlobe is repaired under local anaesthesia. The procedure is performed as a day-care procedure.