Expert Doctor

Reconstructive Earlobe Surgery

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Diana Ghosh, MD

San Diego, CA

Reconstructive Earlobe Surgery

Reconstructive earlobe surgery is a procedure that rebuilds the tissue on the earlobe and restores it back to a normal appearance. This type of procedure is also known as earlobe repair. It is generally sought after by patients who have gauged their lobes/stretched them, in order to insert gauges or plugs, but now want to reverse the effects. Reconstructive earlobe surgery is also typically performed on a female patient who has had some type of trauma, or stretching of a pierced earlobe, which caused the hole to become elongated or torn through.

Am I a Good Candidate for Reconstructive Earlobe Surgery?

GOOD CANDIDATES for reconstructive earlobe surgery include:

  • Any patient who wants to restore the normal ear contour after the earlobes have been enlarged or stretched
  • Male or female patients with split or damaged earlobes as a result of an injury or trauma
  • Any patient whose earlobes have become saggy or elongated with age and/or wearing heavy earrings

The following patients are NOT GOOD CANDIDATES for reconstructive earlobe surgery:

  • Patients who smoke
  • Patients with a history of keloid scarring or severe scarring
  • Any patient who does not have realistic expectations regarding the procedure, recovery and results

How is Reconstructive Earlobe Surgery Performed?

Reconstructive earlobe surgery is generally performed in a doctor’s office, under local anesthesia, in as little as 30 minutes. However, it can take as long as an hour depending on the work that needs to be done.

The first step is removing the current plug in the earlobe. Then, the earlobe will begin to naturally shrink a bit.  The surgeon then slices the lobe in two in order to remove scar tissue and any areas that healed abnormally. This process creates a renewed, smoother border.  The fresh edges are sewed back together using very fine sutures to help give the earlobe its previous appearance. If a patient wishes to wear earrings after earlobe repair, the surgeon may be able to re-pierce the ears and place a stud in the ear the same day as the surgery. Alternatively, a spacer stitch can be used as a placeholder for future earrings.

Combined with Other Procedures

Earlobe repair can be performed in conjunction with injectable dermal fillers. Fillers, such as Restylane can add volume to a lacking earlobe after it has healed from surgery. Dermal fillers are considered a non-invasive earlobe rejuvenation treatment for mildly droopy lobes which are caused by aging or heavy jewelry. The surgeon will inject a small amount of filler into the earlobe in order to expand the lobe outward and create a smaller hole.

What is the Cost of Reconstructive Earlobe Surgery?  

The cost of earlobe reconstruction can range from $200 to $1000, per earlobe, depending on how extensive the procedure needs to be. This cost can increase depending on the surgeon’s skills, geographic location of the surgical facility and if fillers are also used.

Recovery and Downtime

RECOVERY after reconstructive earlobe surgery is minimal. The earlobe will be slightly sore after surgery but over-the-counter pain medications help control the pain. The earlobe may be slightly red and swollen but this will subside after a few days to a week. An antibiotic ointment will need to be applied to the surgical site 3 times a day to help prevent an infection. When the procedure involves significant reconstruction, a small bandage or tape may be placed over the earlobes for the first 12 to 24 hours to catch any oozing that may occur after surgery.

There is no DOWNTIME involved with this procedure and patients can immediately return to normal activities and work the same day as the surgery. Patients can shower, wash their face and shave the following day. Any stitches will be removed one week after the surgery. If the patient chooses to pierce the ears immediately after surgery, the earrings must remain in the ears for two months before exchanging them for another type of earring. Contrary to this, patients can have their ears pierced by the surgeon when it has completely healed. The new piercing should be located slightly away from the scar site.


After reconstructive earlobe surgery, the patient can see immediate results. The stretched or torn earlobe will appear smaller or more youthful looking. Swelling can cause the full results to be obscured as it heals. Healing can take 6 to 8 weeks. However, the final results may take a full year because it takes time for the scar to settle down and fade to a lighter shade. The scar is usually a fine, linear marking down the center of the lobe. The results are long-lasting but the repaired site is weaker and can tear easily. Therefore, patients should avoid wearing heavy or bulky earrings and large hoops that can get snagged easily. The best choice involves earrings that are lightweight or stud earrings.

Limitations of Reconstructive Earlobe Surgery

Limitations of what can be accomplished by reconstructive earlobe surgery include:

  • The amount of natural earlobe tissue that is left to use during the reconstruction process
  • The procedure does not add any volume to the earlobe so fillers are needed to add volume
  • There is a limit to the type of earrings patients can wear after the surgery without damaging the results
  • Earlobe tears that don’t reach the bottom of the lobe can be repaired immediately but a split earlobe is limited to being repaired until after the wound has fully healed

Risks of Reconstructive Earlobe Surgery

The risks involved with reconstructive earlobe surgery include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Earlobe asymmetry
  • A rupture along the incision
  • Prominent scarring
  • A notch on the outer rim of the earlobe
  • Distorted earlobe due to scar tissue

Go with an Experienced Surgeon

Reconstructive earlobe surgery can repair a damaged, torn or stretched earlobe to its previous state. Patients who are considering earlobe repair surgery should consult with a board-certified doctor who has experience with earlobe reconstruction. Furthermore, the surgeon should also be knowledgeable and skilled with dermal fillers for earlobe rejuvenation. An experienced and trained doctor can give patients the earlobe shape and appearance they desire.


Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team- MA

Based on exclusive interview provided by Dr. Diana Ghosh of Plastic Surgery for San Diego in San Diego, CA.