Body piercing has been popular for decades and continues to attract both men and women. Normally when skin is punctured, the hole closes on its own and heals without a sign. When the earlobes are pierced, an earring is put in immediately to prevent the hole from closing. Over time, skin will grow into the hole and line the internal surface of the puncture. Once this happens, the hole may shrink, but is unable to completely close, even with the piercing removed.
Regular ear piercings can become cosmetically unappealing to some people. Worse still is the increasingly common practice called gauged earlobe stretching. This involves the use of expanders, known as gauges, to stretch the earlobe wide enough to insert increasingly larger decorative plugs. This can cause thinning and distortion of the earlobe tissues and lead to permanent damage.
Patients with ear piercings – especially those who wear gauged earrings – sometimes come to regret their decision afterward. Surgery to close earlobe holes is possible, but tricky; gauge earring defects require new tissue in order to close the hole. Suturing it shut would result in an earlobe with an abnormal contour, so tissue is recruited from other areas of the earlobe in what is known as a local flap reconstruction. The procedure is generally performed in an outpatient setting using local anesthesia.
Sutures to close the skin should remain in place for several days afterward before being removed. Some swelling is common and to be expected, but that should go away after a few days.
Call Arizona Desert Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists at (623) 209-7771 for more information or to schedule an appointment.