Torn (Cleft) Earlobes and Their Treatment

A torn earlobe, also called cleft earlobe, is a very common problem that is associated with pierced earrings. It is a complete tear through the earlobe extending from the site of the piercing through the margin of the lobe (photos A and C). On occasion, it can occur as a result of wearing large gauges.

The cause of “tear” can be either of a chronic or acute nature. Elongation of the hole can occur over time, usually as the result of wearing heavy earrings. At some point in time, with little or no trauma at all, it tears through the margin. The cleft can also occur as the result of acute trauma such as catching on a blouse or sweater that one is putting on or taking off or as the result of an infant or child pulling on it causing a full tear.

Treatment of a torn earlobe is simple, straightforward and requires no downtime except for the avoidance of heavy lifting, straining and aerobics for a few days. You can return to work or school the same day. There is minimal if any discomfort afterwards and few patients take any analgesics.

A. torn (cleft) earlobe

B. Three months after repair

C. Torn earlobe – oblique view

D. After repair – oblique view

Surgery is performed in the office under local anesthesia. It involves the excision of the margins of the cleft with precise closure including of the earlobe margins. Re-piercing can be done at the same time. Sutures are generally removed at around a week to ten days. If a new piercing was placed, the earring can be replaced at 30 days with any kind of your choosing (photos A to D).

To schedule a consultation for closure of a torn earlobe or for any other plastic surgery procedure that I perform, please contact my office at 480-451-3000.

Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D. P.C.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona

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