Most commonly, trauma from heavy or dangling earrings creates a slit in the ear lobe that begins at the point of piercing and continues to the base of the ear lobe.
During surgery, the split edges of the earlobe are refreshed. Next, the edges are aligned and the earlobe is sutured on the front and back surfaces to create a strong closure. Often, we will leave a post earring in position so the earlobe does not have to be re-pierced. Later, heavy earrings should not be worn for six months. Lighter weight earrings and posts may be worn safely after three months. Chronic use of heavy earrings can cause recurrence of a split earlobe. Sometimes scars can develop and require further management. Scars form more commonly in Asians and blacks.
It’s important to keep the sutures and steri-strips dry for five days following split ear lobe repair. During this time, one may shampoo as long as the ear lobe and steristrips remain dry. The morning of the suture removal appointment, we will ask you to shower and shampoo the hair prior to the appointment. When the sutures are removed, steri-strips frequently need to be reapplied, in which case one would again need to keep the area dry for another five days.
Most patients carry on with little interruption to their daily activities. We ask patients to switch ears when using the telephone. So as not to disrupt the sutures, we also ask patients to avoid turtlenecks or tight fitting garments that are removed over the head. As far as aerobic activities, these should be avoided for one week following surgery. It is important to avoid bending, lifting or straining during this postoperative period as these activities can increase swelling and delay healing.
After any surgery, some discomfort can be expected. All patients are provided with a prescription for pain medication. Patients sometimes use the prescription medication two to three days after surgery and then switch to Extra Strength Tylenol. It is uncommon for patients to report unmanageable pain after surgery.
Postoperative bruising and swelling begins to resolve at the end of the first week. For patients with a history of easy bruising, resolution of bruising or swelling may take two weeks. However, bruises can be camouflaged fairly easily with a concealer stick.
Aerobic activities should be avoided for one week following surgery. It is important to avoid bending, lifting or straining during this postoperative period as these activities can increase swelling and delay healing.