Ear Lobe Repair

Ear lobe stretching is really nothing new, although it seems to be quite fashionable now.   The tribes near the Ubangi   River like the Suyas have been practicing lip stretching for centuries.   They find the changes in anatomy to be physically attractive, while culturally consistent.   The ability to stretch the skin is one of the remarkable aspects of the human body.   The skin not only stretches, but also grows to accommodate stretching force.  Similarly results of pregnancy, as it stretches a woman’s abdominal skin is the most familiar.   Obesity essentially does the same thing, by gradually stretching skin due to significant weight gain.  In many cases, when weight is then lost, stretched skin fails to regain its elasticity and often sags.   These permanent changes in anatomy are the reasons why tummy tucks, thigh lifts and arm lifts are done.

Tissue expansion is the purposeful stretching of skin  using a “medical  saline filled balloon.”      When extra skin is needed, plastic surgeons use this device to “grow” extra skin.   Breast reconstruction done following cancer surgery is the most common use of this particular technique.

Earlobe stretching, like facial tattoos can become unwanted in western culture due to its cultural inconsistency or changes in current fashion fads.  Notions of what is beautiful or desirable are constantly changing perceptions.  As a person’s life and life situations change, requests to repair the purposeful ear stretching or remove the tattoo often arrive on my doorstep.   Recently a patient with stretched earlobes requested a repair.   They were to become employed in a rather conservative company.     The stretched earlobe appearance made them feel uncomfortable in their new cultural setting.   Repair was simple and easily accomplished,  since the largest diameter inserted was no greater than an inch.   Unfortunately, stretched areas larger than one inch can pose real reconstruction issues and more complicated surgery is needed to correct large holes made by stretching the skin.

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