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Not So Hip Anymore: Repairing Gauged Ear Lobes

Not So Hip Anymore: Repairing Gauged Ear Lobes

It’s a popular trend that involves stretching an ear piercing to suit a large plug, sometimes a half inch or wider. Young hipsters who have tried gauging are now finding the once cool trend is having an impact on their employment opportunities. Big ear holes and the workplace don’t often mix, and plastic surgeons are being left to find the fix in what is a delicate repair.

By: Dawn Tongish
The Plastic

Jeff Jurar finds his nifty ear plugs pretty cool. “I like them. They are kind of a conversation starter.” The 20-something works some technical jobs and his gauged ears, so far, haven’t interfered with his work. However, he says many of his friends have been forced to pull their showy plugs because they can’t find work. “Ya, they have had to take them out. That is just the way it is.”


Experts say it seems like an interesting, somewhat rebellious decision in youth to stretch the ears with gauges. The trend to take them out and have them repaired is leading young professionals in droves to plastic surgeons.

What Are The Repair Gauging Options?

Fixing gauged earlobes is a relatively new plastic surgery procedure, so there are no reports in surgical journals on how to repair the problems. Cosmetic surgeons have to use their best judgement because leaving the holes in place isn’t a good option, according to Dr. Dustin Reid who practices in Austin. “This person would have to keep wearing the gauge, which is not appropriate, or take it out and show the collapsed skin, which isn’t attractive.”

wp1Recently, Dr. Reid has seen a sharp spike in the number of young professionals seeking to repair their ear lobes. He says it is a challenging reconstruction done in the office, requiring about an hour. It leaves behind a tiny scar and a few stitches, which stay in about a week. For most patients, Dr. Reid says the procedure will be life-changing.

“This person wants to do something more serious in their life and they don’t want to be judged in the professional world. This will help them accomplish that.”

Authorities say many gauging patients are also smokers, which can make the wound healing worse and predispose them to a scar. The holes may shrink back if they are under a half inch in diameter, but experts say any larger than that will need a surgical repair.

Women: Fixing Ripped Ear Lobes Without Surgery

It isn’t just teens, women too are repairing ripped ear lobes that have become longer and thinner with age. It can happen to a busy working woman who overloads an ear with a heavy earring or a stay-at-home mom who runs the risk of a child grabbing at a hoop earring. Experts say women may be surprised to learn the repair can be quick and easy.

Cosmetic surgeons are using a non-surgical fix to repair torn ear lobes:  fillers used to erase fine lines on the face. The technique is producing good results, according to New Jersey plastic surgeon Dr. Caroline Glicksman. “We can use Juvederm to plump up the ear lobe, and it really does work well. This is an off-label use so the patient needs to understand the safety measures, but this can work to correct the issue.”

Dr. Glicksman says once the repair is made, she insists on repiercing the lobe herself. “I don’t want them going somewhere and putting the hole right back where it was or they come back and say it ripped again.”

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