Can ears heal from stretched lobes?

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Earlobes can recover from stretching if the process is stopped or reversed. For minor stretching, the ears can recover on their own, while larger stretching may require earlobe reconstruction. Stretching too quickly can cause tearing or tissue necrosis, requiring surgical repair. After healing, scarring may be present, but a plastic surgeon can help minimize it.

It is possible for the ears to recover from lobe stretching if a person decides to stop the stretching or wishes to actively reverse the process. In earlobe stretching, progressively larger earrings and plugs are inserted into a pierced ear over time to stretch the tissue. This practice is very old in some communities and can be seen in practice all over the world. People can also accidentally end up with their ears pricked if they have a habit of wearing very heavy earrings on a regular basis. If stretched lobes are no longer desirable, there are a number of options to allow them to regain their previous shape and size.

In situations where the stretchers used are no larger than two gauges, the ears can often recover on their own. You will need to remove your earrings to rest your ears, and it may be helpful to massage your ears periodically to stimulate blood flow and help close the hole. Compounds like vitamin E oil can sometimes speed up the healing process. It may take several months for the holes to shrink to a manageable size and close completely. A doctor may be able to speed up the process with an injection of filler into the skin around the hole.

When ears are stretched to a larger diameter, healing is more complex. The hole is usually too large to close on its own, and the patient may need earlobe reconstruction. In a reconstruction, a plastic surgeon will manually close the hole. For very large ear stretching cases, the surgeon may need to perform two-part surgery to create cartilage and skin grafts to close the hole. Once fully healed, if the patient wants the ear pierced again, the hole can be re-drilled, although attempting another round of earlobe stretching is not a good idea.

Some patients may stretch their earlobe too quickly and this can endanger their lobes. Stretching normally takes place over the years, and each stretch gradually increases in caliber. This allows the ears to slowly flex and stretch over time to accommodate the larger size. When the stretching happens too quickly, you can tear your ears or develop tissue necrosis, where part of the skin dies because it doesn’t get enough blood. In this case, a surgical repair is needed to clear away the dead skin and rebuild the earlobe.

After the ears have healed completely from the lobe stretching, the lobes may look slightly different and there will be some scarring around the hole site. Patients concerned about the appearance of the lobes can discuss options with a plastic surgeon to see if it is possible to minimize scarring and give the lobes a smoother appearance.

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