Monday, August 6, 2012

What can be done about my torn, stretched or "gauged" earlobes?

I am always surprised when I encounter a patient in the office who was unaware that torn, stretched or gauged earlobes can be repaired with a straight-forward office procedure.

Patient 1 - Typical stretched
ear piercing.

Heavy earrings tend to stretch the earlobe and widen the piercing. After years of wearing these baubles, women will typically present with a stretched piercing and very droopy earlobes. The stretched piercing will typically not retain small earrings and they will either fall out or point toward the floor!

Patient 2 - Torn earlobe.

Many women will at one point catch an earring on their clothing or a pillow causing the earlobe to tear. The normal healing process will frequently leave a notch in that torn earlobe that will never heal without surgery. 

Likewise, "gauging" the earlobes can result in earlobes that elongate with a large healed hole in the middle of the earlobe. The lobe will never shrink and the hole will not close properly without surgery. Of note, the popularity of earlobe repair among males has surged since the military will not allow men with gauged earlobes to enlist. In cases like these, a thirty minute office procedure enables these young men to enlist and pursue a military career.

Patient 1 - After earlobe repair.
As I've already alluded to, the only option for repair of stretched, torn or gauged earlobes are surgical in nature. However, the procedure is a quick in office procedure that can be performed in the office on the lunch hour. There is no "downtime." The edges of the torn or stretched earlobe are freshened and the tear is then meticulously closed with dissolving sutures. The gauged earlobe presents a special case since the margin of the gauged piercing is typically very delicate. Thus, gauged earlobes are slightly more complex to repair but can still be fixed with a straight-forward office procedure. 

Patient 2 - After earlobe repair.

The incisions heal very nicely and rarely objectionable. Patients with darker skin can form keloid scars but if you did not keloid from the piercing the chances are very good that you will not keloid following the repair (see Patient 2 at right). Infection is very rare after this procedure. Your new earlobe can be pierced in the office three to four weeks after the procedure.

For more information or to schedule repair of your torn, stretched or gauged earlobe call us at (303) 788-6632 or email


  1. A sagging earlobe is one of the concerns women have as they age. My wife actually plans to have her earlobe reconstructed. Her concern now is if she can have her ears pierced again after the surgery. I told her that it’d be best to have it done by a doctor to decrease the likelihood of torn or split earlobes.

    Dennis Rode

    1. That's absolutely true. I typically re-pierce reconstructed earlobes six weeks after the initial repair. This allows adequate healing and ensures that the torn lobe or stretched lobe doesn't recur. Thank you for your comment.