Q: Hello, I went to see a plastic surgeon about repairing my one stretched ear ring hole. I pretty much made it clear why I was in the office. The office workers did not pay attention to my needs and instead pointed out all my other flaws and pushed selling other procedures on me. I wish I could afford to correct all flaws, however at this time, I just want my little ear repaired. After they had me under the bright light and made me feel awful about myself, they finally told me the cost of the ear repair… $800. Just because the way they treated me, I would rather stitch it myself then give that office the money. Can you please tell me how much the procedure would be? Thank you.
A: Earlobe deformities from the use of ear rings creates two basic correctable problems, an enlarged or elongated hole and a complete split or tear. Both can be easily and quickly treated in the office under local anesthesia in less than 30 minutes. There is no pain afterwards or significant swelling or bruising. Tiny dissolveable sutures are used so there is no suture removal afterwards either. One can shower and get it wet the very next day. Once it is healed, re-piercing can be done six weeks later.
From an office standpoint, every plastic surgery practice has differences in philosophy. Some promote and sell harder than others which often, understandably, turns some patients off. That doesn’t make them a bad practice, just one who may not be a good fit for you. From a pricing perspective, fees will vary around the country for any elective cosmetic surgery procedure based on geographic location and the size of the practice. There are no standard fees for cosmetic surgery nationally. It is a simple matter of what value the practice puts on their time and expense to do the procedure and what a patient is willing to pay. Here in Indianapolis, the prices for earlobe repairs is more typically in the range of $300 to $450 per earlobe.
Dr. Barry Eppley
Q: Dr. Eppley, one of my earlobes is split. This is a result of earrings. Discoloration has taken place at the opening of the split earlobe. Is there any hope for my situation?
A: A torn or split earlobe is a very common ear problem. In fact, it may be the single most common reason for plastic surgery performed on the ear. The earlobe frequently separates from the long-term use of heavy ear rings or the inadvertent pulling on a dangling ear ring from a child. The earlobe is easily torn because there is no cartilage in it, unlike the rest of the ear. The two layers of skin and the intervening fat poses little resistance to the rounded edge of a metal object.
The split or enlarged ear ring hole can be easily repaired. It is a simple office procedure done under local anesthesia. The edges of the healed split earlobe are made fresh and put back together as a vertical line. Any discolored skin is removed at the same time. This does heal with a very fine line scar but it is often very hard to see. It will usually be obscured by future ear ring wear or the insertion of a new ear post. Re-piercing of the repaired split earlobe can be done six weeks after the procedure. Usually the new hole is made at the top of the healed scar line which is usually at the center of the earlobe.
Dr. Barry Eppley
Q: My 12 year old daughter has had both ears repierced due to holes closing, but now the newer holes have closed due to infections and she now has unattractive scar tissue. Is there a surgery that she can have done to remove the scar tissue so she can wear earrings again? She has been very upset about this for a couple of years now. Thank you!
A: Despite the large number of earlobes (and ears) that get pierced, the number of infection and scar complications is remarkably low. This is a testament to the good blood supply to the ear and its relative resistance to typical skin bacteria. But minor complications to piercings do occasionally occur and, while they all resolve, they often end up with excessive scar tissue formation over and around the original ear hole.
Removal of earlobe scar tissue can easily be done with minimal to no visible deformity of the earlobe later. It is a simple ear plastic surgery procedure. Under local anesthesia, the scar tissue can be cut out and the earlobe defect closed. Because the earlobe has no cartilage framework, it is very elastic and flexible. This makes for closing most earlobe defects relatively easy without causing a visible deformity such as a notched earlobe or making it significantly smaller than the opposite earlobe.
There is one difficult type of earlobe scar, that of a keloid. While many earlobe scar patients think they have a keloid, they really have a hypertrophic or typical scar. A keloid is an abnormal form of scar tissue formation that will not stop growing, often causing a cauliflower-like appearance to the scar and distorting the entire earlobe. These have high rates of recurrence after being removed.
Dr. Barry Eppley