Earlobes, like the rest of the face, undergoes changes with aging. The natural aging process involves a relaxation of the collagen fibers that make up its skin and atrophy of tissue volume, allowing the earlobe to get longer and thinner. When combined with the use of earrings, their weight will accentuate the sagginess of the earlobe that often develops. Given that the earlobe has no cartilage like the rest of the ear, it has no support to resist these aging forces.
Measurements of earlobes over time will show that it does elongate, even in men, of at least several millemeters or more. As the earlobe elongates and makes up a more significant part of total ear length (the majority of the ear that has a cartilage framework does not change in size), it can be another facial feature that contributes to an aging appearance.
The concept of earlobe rejuvenation, sometimes called an ear lobe lift, can combat this aging ear feature. There are two fundamental approaches to achieve this effect, a ‘nip and tuck’ of the earlobe or the use of injectable fillers to plump it up.
The earlobe lift involves shortening the elongated earlobe. Through an incision at the junction of the face and earlobe, a wedge of tissue is removed. The wedge can be taken either horizontally or vertically depending upon which creates the better effect. When done vertically, the final scar is at the junction of face and ear, just where a facelift incision would go thus making it virtually undetectable. When taken horizontally through the earlobe, a fine line scar will exist through the center of the earlobe. In either case, small sutures are placed which are removed a week later. No dressings are needed and one can get it wet immediately without a concern. The earlobe lift makes it appear smaller, rounded, and more full. This is a simple procedure which can easily be done in the office under local anesthesia in less than an hour. There is very little swelling afterwards so it is not easily seen.
For earlobes that are not that long but have gotten thin, injectable fillers are a better solution. By addingvolume, the earlobe becomes plumper and the skin smoothes, helping decrease or eliminate any wrinkles or folds. A plump earlobe equals a younger looking one. As the earlobe gets fuller with an injection, any earlobe holes will get smaller and tighter. There are nearly a dozen injectable filler types and any of them will work. In my Indianapolis plastic surgery practice, I prefer either Juvaderm, Evolence, or Radiesse. All of these will last around 9 to 12 months. But when placed in the earlobe, they may last even longer. In just a few minutes, both earlobes can be injected. There is usually a little bit of swelling but this goes away in a few days.
Improvement of the aging earlobe is one of the easiest and quickest facial rejuvenation procedures. Whether by a lift or a fill, a younger looking earlobe is but a few minutes away.
Barry L. Eppley, M.D., D.M.D.