Bermant Otoplasty Plastic Surgery of the Ears

Torn Ear Lobe Reconstruction and Injury Prevention

Learn about torn earlobes and their reconstruction by Dr. Bermant.

Michael Bermant, MD
Board Certified by the
American Board of Plastic Surgery

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Torn Ear Lobe Reconstruction

Ear reconstruction can involve the entire ear or only a part - the lobe. Otoplasty is a general term for ear reshaping. Ear lobe reconstruction is much less involved than other forms of ear reshaping.

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Earlobe Tears can make the ear look ugly.

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Women and men wear ear jewelry to enhance their appearance. Rings, posts, and other objects have adorned ears since ancient times. Various parts are pierced to better hold these items in place. Unfortunately significant weight or trauma can pull through tissue. A tear in the lobe or margin leaves a notch in the otherwise smooth continuous edge. This defect is usually very visible and hard to cover with hair or clothing.

What is actually torn?
The soft ear lobe has skin and fat. Other parts of the ear have cartilage adding structural strength. Since the tissue over the cartilage is thin, contour irregularities of the cartilage are easily seen. Reestablishing the delicate shape of the underlying cartilage adds complexity to a reconstruction.
torn ear lobe plastic surgery cosmetic surgery

Prevention
Unpierced ears are less likely to tear. The tiny wires that hold jewelry can tear through the tissue when sharply yanked or with enough pressure slowly over time. Around young children take the earrings out before the damage occurs. Young children grab jewelry and pull. Larger loops and bigger items are more easily snagged by their little hands. Small posts are less likely targets but can still cause damage.

Large or heavy items will gradually elongate the hole and eventually will tear through the lobe. Larger masses have more momentum and damage more easily happens during activity. If you cannot live without your heavy jewelry, be careful about quick movements. Lighter smaller adornments are safer.

Methods of reconstruction
Most ear holes gradually enlarge over time. The final tear is usually just through a tiny piece of tissue at the bottom of the lobe. If only the bottom is actually torn, immediate repair will not take care of the skin covered slot. However if the tear starts from a tiny pierced hole, immediate repair is an option. Otherwise reconstruction is delayed after the wound has healed and tissues are not inflamed.

Depending on the deformity, reconstruction can take different forms. In all methods, the skin lining the slot is removed creating a raw edge to rebuild. Lost tissue complicates matters and reconstruction centers around reestablishing normal proportions in a somewhat smaller ear.

split ear lobe simple repair plastic surgery

Technique 1 (layered closure):
The raw edges are brought directly together using a combination of dissolvable sutures in the deeper layers and skin sutures that are removed at a later date. No provision for the jewelry hole is made at this time. After several months of healing, the ear can be pierced again if desired. A straight closure like this has increased risk of scar contraction causing a notch at the bottom of the lobe after healing.

Technique 2 ("Z-plasty" flap):
Tissue cut in a special pattern and moved with its blood supply is called a flap. Flaps are used to redistribute tissue and sculpt the shape of the ear. Flaps lessen the chance of scar notching. If your want, the ear could be pierced at a later date.

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Technique 3 ("Jelly roll" Pardu Flap):
A series of flaps are designed and moved to rebuild both the skin hole for the jewelry and close the ear in one stage.

Anesthesia
Injection of local anesthetic numbs the earlobe. Anesthesia wears off after several hours. After surgery most patients do not need pain medication. If any pain medication is needed, plain Tylenol or Advil seems to work well.

split ear lobe reconstruction with flap 2 plastic surgery

Postoperative Care
You will need to wash your wound with soap and water three (3) times a day. A thin layer of antibiotic ointment is the only dressing in most cases. You may wash your hair but will have to be careful with blow dryers until sensation returns. (You could burn yourself without knowing it if you were still numb.) Expect a little drainage from the wound. Be careful of your good bed linens with the drainage and ointment. I remove sutures in about seven (7) days

When can I wear earrings after surgery?
If Dr. Bermant has rebuilt the ear with a hole for jewelry, you will have a temporary "ring" at the end of surgery. This stitch comes out in about two weeks. The new hole is still quite weak and you should hold off trying small posts for at least six weeks after surgery. Heavier jewelry is not recommended, but if you must, wait at least two months after surgery. Clip on earrings may be worn six weeks after surgery. All the above time periods may need to be delayed if you still have sensitivity at the surgical site.

If I chose the layered closure or "Z-plasty" flap can I get my ears pierced?
If your ear has been closed and you want a new hole pierced, wait six months after surgery. The scar should be soft before you try this.

Scar care
The wound starts out firm. Dr. Bermant has his patients massage their scar with cocoa butter 15 minutes a day starting two weeks after sutures have been removed. The massaging seems to soften the scar over time.

Not all surgeons offer the same types of earlobe sculpture. There is much to learn about this surgery. This website is but an introduction to what we have to offer at Bermant Plastic Surgery. We take the education of our patients very seriously.

Please use this introduction to become comfortable with Dr. Bermant, his caring service, otoplasty surgical sculpting skills, and what we have to offer.

earlobe and ear lobe cosmetic surgery

Dr. Bermant sees patients from around the world who prefer his techniques. We try to make this process easier with a preliminary remote package. That way our patients can feel comfortable with us before traveling to Richmond. You will need to fill out forms, provide us information about your concerns and pictures. There is a fee for this preliminary evaluation.

Patients have easy access from Washington,Fairfax,Alexandria,Fredericksburg,Williamsburg,Newport News,Hampton,Virginia Beach,Lynchburg,Roanoke,Charlottesville,Rockville,Richmond,Charlotte, and Raleigh.

Otoplasty Ear Surgery

Torn Earlobe Repair

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This page last updated on: January 10, 2013

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