By Donna & Maven
Fleshie Repair Surgery can repair the damage of your ear lobes.
Ear loops, ear gauges and piercings are a lot like tattoos. You may get them early in life and then later wish you didn’t.
Fleshie & Stretchers: Earlobes Splits and what Can Be Done to Repair the Damage from Gauges & Earlobe Injuries
Earlobe loops and gauges – two types of earlobe stretchers – rose in popularity since the 1990’s during the body art movement.
They may have been fashionable for you for a while, but a few years or decades later – the promise of a higher-paying career offer may completely change your mind about keeping them.
Or perhaps your current partner despises them or you find they get in the way of simple activities, such as brushing your hair or wearing certain types of scarves in winter (or hats).
Body Art Preferences DO tend to change over your life time
Some industries and certain professions actually forbid hiring people who have ear lobes that don’t look like an ordinary earlobe. Some organisations and even military organisations have certain rules on WHO they can hire – and if your piercing diameter exceeds the limit, you might not qualify – you could end up losing a career or job opportunity you really wanted.
Is body art worth losing a career over?
Your tastes in body art (including ear lobe art) may change over time – but your earlobes don’t recovery as readily as your tastes change.
Torn Earlobe Repair: What Causes the Need for Earlobe Surgery?
There are many ways that earlobes can become damaged – some include elective ear piercing methods, or ear jewelry – others are simply accidental.
Damaged Earlobes: Ear lobes may SPLIT for a few different reasons.
Wearing heavy earrings is a common cause of earlobe injury.
- If the weight of the jewelry is too much, the tissues in the ear can’t handle the stress and a tear appears.
- If you wear very heavy earrings, your ear piercing hole may become extended (elongated) over time
Children pull your earrings or ear jewelry
- Young infants have a penchant for grabbing at people hair and jewelry
- In an instant, a young child can grab an earring and yank it with enough force to cause an earlobe tear
Your ear jewelry can get caught in your hair brush
- If your brush or comb catches your earlobe piercing or jewelry, it may also cause a tear or a split.
Stretching the ear lobes is another reason why earlobes tear or become damaged.
A “flesh tunnel” (‘fleshie) is the name of a type of earlobe accessory that is used to STRETCH the ear lobe – this can often split the earlobe.
Ear gauging means piercing the earlobe and then making the hole larger over time.
- There are different types of gauges (earlobe accessories) that are used for stretching, or gauging, earlobes.
- The hole is then often filled with an accessory or a substance that helps draw attention to it. These are commonly created from metal or wood plugs, which can be up to about 12-13 mm in diameter.
- Any hole over 1.5 cm (a half an inch) will usually mean that the earlobe hole won’t ever repair itself on its own.
That’s when you’ll need the artistic skills of a Plastic Surgeon.
Stretching the earlobe may be done over several weeks or months, If you’ve gotten this ‘earlobe look,’ chances are you worked diligently to get your lobes stretched.
When you stretch your ear lobe to a maximum distance (such as 20-30 mm in diameter), you MAY have won the title of a “Gauge Queen” or “Gauge King”.
But the problem is that any stretch over 10 mm will need earlobe reconstruction to repair it once the ‘art’ loses its appeal to the person.
Stretching your earlobe too fast or too much can lead to scarring or a split in the ear lobe.
So when you overstretch your ear lobes – or decide you want a different look – you’re going to need surgery.
The Cost of Fleshies, Gauges and Earlobe Loops is Visual as well as Psychological
The problem is that once the jewelry is removed from the ear, the earlobe often doesn’t look good.
When you don’t like the way your earlobes look, you may feel unable to go WITHOUT your earlobe accessories – and if you have an infection, you’re going to NEED to take them out for a period of time.
Most people seek surgery to repair their “fleshies” because it looks as if their earlobes have shriveled after being over-stretched.
For some people, the look of their earlobes after having worn ‘fleshies’ causes a lot of embarrassment.
Plus, accessories and body art – just as with other fashions – DOES change over time as well as over a life time.
Fleshie Repair: The Correction Procedure can be Relatively Quick but requires a highly skilled Plastic Surgeon
Most plastic surgery procedures require being in an accredited hospital, but for earlobe repair surgery (or some Otoplasty procedures), you are often able to have the surgery done ‘in rooms’ as an out patient.
There are several types of common earlobe issues that are addressed with earlobe surgery.
Common ear lobe injury or tear issues that Plastic Surgeons repair through Earlobe Surgery include:
- An earlobe tear
- Size changes – e.g., if the piercing hole is TOO large and needs to be reduced
- Reduction of the overall SIZE of the earlobes
- Reconstruction of the earlobe such as after a skin trauma or after removal of a skin cancer
- Repair of damage from earlobe body-art such as Fleshies (Stretchers or Gauges)
Earlobe surgery may also also be suitable for people who’s earlobes have been injured in a car or workplace accident.
Earlobe Repair Procedure
- Repairing these types of holes is done under local anesthesia and takes about 30 minutes to an hour.
- It’s important to know that the hole itself can’t be fixed.
- The scar tissue and stretched area of the earlobe are surgically removed
- The remaining parts of the earlobe are then stitched, internally
- Sutures (stitches) that disintegrate naturally might be used on the outside of the ear, but this depends on your Plastic Surgeon’s preferences as well as the condition of your remaining skin.
Recovery from Fleshie Repair Surgery
- The healing time is about a week.
- Over-the-counter painkillers are usually enough to subdue the pain during the first few days when the pain is at its highest level.
- However, if you smoke, it’s best to give up smoking for at least one month prior to your surgery – so you can heal well from the surgery.
- Smoking interferes with your healing process and can increase the scarring risks as it impedes healing functions.
- Smoking also interferes with circulation to your skin.
Wearing Ear Accessories & Earrings After Earlobe Repair
- After your earlobe repair surgery, it’s often best to wait for AT LEAST 2 months before placing a stud in the ear for your piercing.
- However, heavy earrings should NOT be worn again for best results.
- Your Surgeon will give you particular advice on how to care for your earlobes in the healing period after your Surgery – be sure to follow these instructions exactly.
Occasionally, extensive damage to your earlobes from an injury, infection or ‘fleshie’ MIGHT involve the need to take cartilage from your rib, during a more extensive, 4-hour surgical procedure.
However, most cases of earlobe reconstruction are the type described above.
Other Types of Plastic Surgery for the Ears
There are other types of surgery to the ear that our Plastic Surgeons specialize in.
For example, if ears are protruding or overly large, they may be repositioned or resized. Visit our Otoplasty page for more information.
Deformities of the ear may also be repaired.
- These procedures are focused on the EXTERNAL parts of the ear, not the internal parts
- Surgical procedures for these additional types of ear surgery may take only a few hours & healing time MAY be faster than other procedures involving other parts of your face or body