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