Split earlobes can cause both functional and aesthetic concerns. Failing to address your split earlobes in a timely manner could increase your chances of undergoing more trauma to the split. A larger split in the earlobe ultimately means it will be more difficult to correct, but waiting will also increase your level of discomfort.
Published: January 27, 2021
Last updated: February 18, 2022
Content Reviewed by AEDIT Medical Advisory Board
What are Split Earlobes?
The ears are one of the most highly susceptible, yet commonly overlooked, areas of the body that can experience trauma. Pierced ears have been a trend throughout history, but newer trends in piercing, combined with greater accessibility to piercing methods, have led to an increase in damaged earlobes. Recent studies are showing a definite link between piercings and split earlobes, and plastic surgeons are seeing an increase in the number of split earlobes they correct every year. Fortunately, you have options available, and the information in this article is intended to provide you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions and to alleviate any fears you may have concerning the correction of your split earlobes.
What are the Causes and Reasons for Split Earlobes?
Heavy Earrings Constant wear of large, heavy earrings can cause split earlobes. Not everyone realizes the negative impact wearing heavy earrings will have on the earlobes, both while wearing them, and over time. Wearing heavy earrings puts a lot of weight onto a delicate area – an area that was never intended to carry heavy things. The weight of the earrings pulls the lobes down and causes them to stretch out. Sometimes this stretching results in a full split.
A study published in the Plastic Reconstructive Surgery journal also mentioned a link between the type of metal used for your earrings and the occurrence of split earlobes. This indicates that for some people, it is not only the weight of the earrings they are wearing but also the allergic reaction to the metal in the earrings. Begin to notice if certain earrings irritate your ears. This could indicate an allergic reaction, and for the safety of your ears, it would be wise to discontinue wearing those earrings.
Gauges and Split Earlobes Gauging refers to a trend in which individuals place plugs, instead of earrings, into the piercings of their earlobes. As the hole stretches to accommodate the gauge, the smaller gauge is upgraded to a larger gauge. This process continues until the wearer achieves the desired hole size. While this trend has seen an increase in popularity in the United States in the last couple of decades, this is not a new phenomenon. People have found ways to gauge their ears from the time of early civilization. Unfortunately, gauging is not naturally reversible, and sometimes extreme forms of gauging can cause the earlobe to split altogether.
Trauma and Split Earlobes The trauma of the earlobe often refers to an earring-related incident which often causes earlobe tears. This can happen when a dangly earring gets caught and ripped out of the ear, for instance. A study recorded by the National Center for Biotechnology Information reported that repairing split earlobes “is one of the most common problems in plastic surgery” and indicated that this is most often due to earrings. Trauma leading to earlobe splitting can also stem from incidents such as car accidents, sports injuries, or other major occurrences, but these are much less common than jewelry-related traumas.
Fixing Split or Torn Earlobes
Earlobe Surgery Unfortunately, once your earlobe has been split, the only split earlobe repair is earlobe surgery. An earlobe surgical procedure is only minimally invasive, though, and is performed in an outpatient setting. It can be done to correct partial, full or multiple tears in the ear, and effectively improves the shape, size, and contour of the ears while correcting the split earlobe. A local anesthetic will be used, but the repair procedure itself only lasts approximately 10-15 minutes and recovery only lasts a short period of time. You will eventually be able to get a new piercing, however, it will need to be well after the earlobe has healed.
Takeaway: How to Prevent Split Earlobes and Recurrence
Despite what caused your split earlobe to initially occur, there are steps you can take to prevent further earlobe damage. Think of these preventions as your insurance policy for your ears. The position of the piercing plays a vital role in your risk for splits. You will want to make sure that the technician that pierces your ears refrains from putting the holes too low down on the earlobe. The closer the piercing hole is to the edge of the ear, the more likely you are to experience tearing. You should also avoid wearing heavy earrings and use caution when wearing dangly earrings, especially ones that dangle excessively. Stud earrings are less likely to cause problems or be ripped out of the ear. When wearing any other earrings, do so with caution and be aware of the situation. For example, wearing hoop earrings to play sports might be dangerous, while wearing the same earrings out to dinner would be perfectly appropriate.
Keep in mind that even though earlobe surgery effectively reconstructs your earlobe split, it may not completely remove the aftereffects of the earlobe damage. You may always see scar tissue down the length of your earlobe, and you might always notice a slight unevenness of the earlobes. Despite the chance that you might always have those lasting results of your earlobe split, correcting the split will be helpful, even just for aesthetic purposes.
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- M de Boutray Repair of gauge earlobe medium defect PubMed.gov; 2020-09-01
- Medline Plus Clinical Application of Earlobe Augmentation with Hyaluronic Acid Filler in the Chinese Population MedlinePlus.gov; 2016-12-28
- Hunter Benvenuti, MD Repair of Massive Earlobe Piercing and Plugs (Gauging) PubMed.gov; 2014-11-07
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