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Archive for the ‘earlobe reconstruction’ Category

Mini-Mommy Makeover Procedures

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

The concept of a Mommy Makeover plastic surgery procedure is about combining abdominal and breast reshaping in one operation. The breast and abdominal components are not new and include many well known procedures such as tummy tucks, breast implants, liposuction and breast lifts in whatever combination each individual women needs. While the effects of a Mommy Makeover can be dramatic, breast and abdominal procedures are major surgery with significant recovery as well.

But there are numerous other procedures of lesser magnitude that could also be lumped into the Mommy Makeover category and consist of a variety of ‘nips, tucks and sticks’ that create effects that mothers would also like. Here are some of the most noteworthy.

BOTOX  For reduction of those facial expression lines that come from the stress of balancing mother and wife roles, Botox injections are probably the most common injectable Mommy procedure.

Vi/PERFECT PEELS With only a few days of redness and flaking, these medium-depth facial peels are essentially painless to go through and provide a real boost to one’s complexion. A few of these a year will keep a mother’s skin radiant and glowing.

C-SECTION SCAR REVISION For those women that don’t need a tummy tuck and have a noticeable c-section scar with just a little pooch above it, widely cutting out the scar can produce a flatter upper pubic area. This scar revision can be combined with some lower abdominal liposuction for an additional and wider flattening effect.

UPPER LIP PLUMPING Some well placed Restylane or Juvederm injections into the upper lip has an instant youthful volumizing effect. This is particularly evident if the cupid’s bow and philtral columns are accentuated.

NIPPLE REDUCTION Breast feeding can elongate the nipple which can be a source of embarrassment and out of proportion to the size of the areola. Under local anesthesia, the nipple length can be reduced by half or more.

EARLOBE REPAIR Fixing stretched out ear ring holes or complete tears through the lobe can allow old or new ear rings to be comfortably worn again.

BELLY BUTTON REPAIR (Umbilicoplasty) Pregnancies can change an innie belly button to an outie due to a small hernia through the umbilical stalk attachment. Tucking the peritoneal fat back through the hole and reattaching the stalk of the belly button back down to the abdominal wall will recreate that an old inne look again.

EXILIS For those stubborn fat areas that just won’t go away despite some diet and exercise, this non-surgical fat treatment can easily fit into a busy mom’s schedule. It takes a series of treatments to see the effects but there is no downtime with 30 minute in-office treatment sessions.

These mini-Mommy Makeovers provide changes that do not require major surgery or recovery and can fit into anyone’s hectic schedule.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Postoperative Instructions for Earlobe Repair and Reconstruction

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

 

Repair of the earlobe is done for a range of conditions from a tear caused by an ear ring, stretching of the earlobe from gauging to traumatic injuries. The small size of the earlobe allows even complex repairs to be done under local anesthesia as an office procedure in most cases.

The after care instructions for earlobe repairs and reconstructions are as follows:

1. Earlobe repairs, whether a simple split repair or a more complete reconstruction, are associated with a minimal amount of pain in the first few days after surgery.  Usually narcotic pain medications are not needed and Tylenol or Ibuprofen are sufficient.

2.  There may be a small dressing (tape or bandaid) placed over the earlobes for the first 12 to 24 hours if the earlobe has significant reconstruction. Its purpose is to catch any oozing that may occur right after surgery. (usually there isn’t but as a precaution) It may be removed the next day. In smaller earlobe repairs there is no dressing used over the sutures.

3.  A light layer of antibiotic ointment needs to be applied to the sutures on the earlobes three times per day to keep them moisturized. This is done whether removeable or dissolveable sutures are used.

4. If permanent sutures are used, they will be removed by Dr. Eppley in 10 to 14 days after surgery.

5. You may shower, wash your face and shave (men) the next day. There is no harm is getting them wet with soap and water.

6. Do not pull on your earlobes or wear clip-on ear rings for up to one month after the procedure. Re-piercing your ears should wait at least 6 to 8 weeks after the earlobe repair.

7. You may wear eyeglasses or sunglasses after the procedure.

8. There are no activity restrictions after the surgery. You may exercise at any level at which you feel comfortable.

9.   You may drive right after the procedure. Since most earlobe repairs are performed under local anesthesia, many patients drive themselves to and from the facility.

10.  If any redness, tenderness, or drainage develops from the earlobe after the first week of surgery, call Dr. Eppley and have your pharmacy number ready.

Consent for Plastic Surgery: Earlobe Repair and Reconstruction

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

 

Every plastic surgery procedure has numerous issues that every patient who is undergoing a procedure should know. These explanations are always on a consent form that you should read in detail before surgery. This consent form, while many perceive as strictly a legal protection for the doctor, is actually more intended to improve the understanding of the earlobe repair or reconstruction procedure. The following is what Dr. Eppley discusses with his patients for this procedure. This list includes many, but not all, of the different outcomes from surgery. It should generate both a better understanding of the procedure and should answer any remaining questions that one would have.

ALTERNATIVES

There are no alternatives to surgical repair of a split or gauged (expanded) earlobe.

GOALS

The goal of earlobe repair/reconstruction is to restore the size and form of the bottom portion of the ear.

LIMITATIONS

The limitations to earlobe repair is how much natural earlobe tissue remains, whether it has any scar associated with it (e.g., keloid) and what the adjoining cartilaginous ear looks like.

EXPECTED OUTCOME

Expected outcomes include the following: temporary swelling and bruising of the ear, a temporary firmness of the reconstructed earlobe, some mild discomfort of the earlobe, and temporary redness of the incision line/scar. It may take weeks to months before the final shape and optimal appearance of the earlobe is achieved.

RISKS

Complications may include bleeding, infection, dehiscence of the incisional closure (part or complete separation), a prominent or noticeable scar, earlobe asymmetry from the other side, and a notch along the outer rim of the earlobe.

ADDITIONAL SURGERY

How the earlobe heals and the occurrence of complications can influence the final shape and appearance of the earlobe after it heals. Should complications or the desire to enhance the result further by additional surgery be needed, this will generate additional costs.

The Energing Trend Of Stretched Earlobe Repair

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

The adornment of ears has been around since the dawn of civilization. Women and men have been putting all sorts of jewelry on ears from the top of the helix down to the earlobe. In what some may consider out of the ordinary or more extreme, the non-cartilaginous portion of the ear (earlobe) has even been split, severed or expanded in the interest of aesthetic enhancement.

When one thinks of changing the size of the earlobe, thoughts are given to people from some remote island or tribes from more distant lands. But the trend of earlobe expansion that has been seen in the past ten years, that of gauging or inserts into the earlobes, is now commonplace right here in the U.S. While everyone is entitled to their own sense of beauty and body modification, expanded earlobes with large central holes with or without inserts is usually not going to be a lifelong expression for most people.

As a plastic surgeon I am seeing more young men present for surgical correction of the stretched earlobes. The most common reasons are either for employment or job promotion, entering the military service or they simply are tired of them. The first two are forced upon the person by having to mold into the conformity of the organization. The last reason is one in which one wants to undo a generational fashion statement that now makes one self-conscious with a lot of saggy earlobes. Such an appearance, as unfair as it might be, creates an impression amongst some that they know who and what you are.

Whatever the motivation for change, plastic surgery correction of stretched earlobes is an easy problem to fix. Stretching the earlobes creates too much earlobe tissue, even if the outer rim of it can be quite thin. It is always better to have too much tissue in which to do a reconstruction than too little.This is a basic axiom in plastic surgery. While the large amount of floppy earlobe tissue and its central oblong hole may look like an impossibility from which to create a unified smaller earlobe, it is actually straightforward to do. It can be done in the office under local anesthesia in less than an hour for both earlobes. So what may have taken a year or so to create by steadily increasing the gauge of the disc inserts can be undone in one hour of precision reconstruction to make the earlobe look normal again.

Recovery from such earlobe reconstruction is very minimal if at all. I use dissolveable sutures on both sides the earlobe which require no removal. No dressings are used and one only applies antibiotic ointment for the first week after the procedure. Showering, washing one’s hair and all normal activities can be done without interruption. Patients report no pain, bruising and minimal swelling. The earlobe looks normal immediately. Patients interestingly do report the feeling of ‘phantom lobes’, much like that of phantom limb syndrome after amputations. But there seems to be no problem adjusting back to what looks very similar to their original earlobes, albeit with a tiny vertical scar in the earlobe close to its attachment to the face.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Case Study: Repair of the Torn Gauged Earlobe

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Background:  The earlobe has long been an anatomic location for personal adornment. From piercings to endless styles of ear rings, just about every conceivable variation of jewelry has been adapted to be applied to the earlobe. One of the more recent practices of earlobe fashion has been that or stretching or gauging the earlobe with the placement of various inserts.

By the gradual use of increasing size metal inserts, an earlobe hole is stretched out to some incredible sizes. This process of stretching is well known in plastic surgery as tissue expansion. The gauged earlobe is just a miniature version of it applied for cosmetic purposes to the diminuitive earlobe.

Like the lessons learned in tissue expansion surgery, the skin can be satisfactorily stretched provided that it is not done too fast or the skin stretched too far. In the case of the earlobe, the stretched earlobe rim of skin survives by the blood flow coming in from both ends. But when it gets stretched too thin, the blood supply is cut off and a central ischemic zone develops in which the skin dies. This causes the earlobe hole to be transformed into two hanging skin flaps as it falls apart.

Case Study: This 21 year-old man presented with a large split right earlobe. He had gauged both earlobes and, even though they were done with the same size inserts and at the same rate, the right earlobe fell apart while the left one remained intact. The earlobe had a large hanging posteriorly-based skin tube and a small anterior nubbin of skin (remaining earlobe) attached to the side of the face.

He underwent a right earlobe repair under local anesthesia. The posteriorly-based skin flap (tube) was shortened and the anterior nubbin’s skin edges were reopened. The two were re-attached to make a normal-sized earlobe and elimination of any remaining hole. It is an earlobe procedure that is not much more complex than a split earlobe repair and can be completed in about 30 minutes.

No dressing were applied and only antibiotic was used twice daily. He could shower and wash his hair the very next day. There is no problem getting reconstructed earlobes wet. While dissolveable sutures are placed on the back of the earlobe, those sutures on the front of the earlobe are removed one week later. The earlobes can be re-pierced in six weeks but never again can be stretched or gauged.

Case Highlights:

1)      Gauging of the earlobe makes an enlarged hole at the expense of the earlobe skin and blood supply. If stretched too quickly or too far, it can tear the remaining earlobe skin.

 

2)      The torn stretched earlobe presents two skin flaps (tubes) which can be shortened and put back together, restoring the original size and shape of the earlobe.

 

3)      A repaired gauged earlobe can sustain a secondary piercing but can never again be stretched or expanded.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Case Study: Ear Keloid Removal With Skin Grafting

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Background:  Keloid scars are one of the most difficult scar problems. They are hard to stop growing and removing them is no guarantee that they will not return. Their high recurrence rate is well chronicled. One of the reasons keloids can recur is that they are incompletely excised. Leaving but just a miniscule amount of keloid behind is all that it takes for it to regrow.

The ears are a frequent site of keloid development, particularly in the higher risk African-American patient. The high frequency of ear piercings, particularly multiple piercings, is the cause. While it will likely develop from an infected or complicated piercing, it can develop years later for no apparent cause also. The small size of the earlobe makes complete removal problematic if the keloid is of any size and one wants to maintain a normal earlobe shape.

Case Study: This is a 57 year-old female who had a slowly enlarging keloid on the back of her ear. It started two years previously from an uncomplicated piercing. The same earlobe had two other piercings which were normal. She has been through multiple steroid injections which, while helping with the itching and discomfort, did not shrink it in size. It appears The size of the keloid covered at least half of the surface area of the back of her earlobe and had begun to distort the more visible outer helical rim

Surgical resection was done by removing the entire keloid from the back of the ear as well as the involved earlobe hole. This left a large open wound on the back of the ear. Trying to close it would have left a small and distorted-looking earlobe. A full-thickness skin graft was taken from a more superior portion of the junction between the back of the ear and the mastoid skin. The donor site was closed primarily. The skin graft was sewn into the defect with small resorbable sutures.

The entire procedure took 45 minutes. A xeroform compression dressing (bolster) was applied with through and through sutures of 4-0 plain gut suture. No other dressing was used. The bolster was removed 10 days later with 100% graft take. At one year after surgery, no keloid recurrence has developed.

The use of a full-thickness skin graft on the back of the ear prevents a constrictive earlobe distortion after large keloid removal. Primary closure on the back of the ear when most of its skin has been removed will result in the earlobe being made smaller and looking pinched.   

Case Highlights:

1)      Ear keloids are very common and are caused by piercings. They usually start on the back of the ear. Once they develop, they often continue to grow and may be refractory to steroid injections.

 

2)      The typical size of many keloids and the small surface area of the earlobe makes earlobe distortion likely with excision and primary closure.

 

3)       Earlobe distortion can be prevented with keloid removal and ear reconstruction by full-thickness skin grafting of the defect. This approach gives one more leeway to remove the full extent of the keloid as severe earlobe deformity afterward is less likely.

 

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Case Study: Reconstruction of the Gauged Earlobe

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Background: The adornment of the earlobe goes to back to nearly the beginning of mankind. Besides being a very visible piece of anatomy right next to the face, it is also easy to manipulate because it is composed of just skin and fat without more firm cartilage like the rest of the ear. Besides jewelry, the earlobe has been cosmetically altered by changing its shape. Making holes of various sizes in the earlobe allows for either an enlarged shape, the placement of an internal insert or both. This is done through the plastic surgery principle of tissue expansion. Known by the term of ‘gauging’, this allows the earlobe to be sequentially enlarged by gradually increasing the size of the internal insert.

Once done, the earlobe is forever altered and will always have an internal hole. Removing the inserts will allow the earlobe tissues to shrink down somewhat and the hole will always end up smaller than it was at its maximal diameter of expansion. If the hole enlargement was only fairly small (10mms or less), the hole will likely shrink to be fairly small. But larger diameters of expansion will not shrink completely back down to such a small hole. This is due to the skin being stretched beyond its elastic limits. If one is interested in reducing and reshaping their earlobe back to a more normal size and shape, surgical reconstruction will be needed.

Case: This is a 25 year-old male who had a history of both earlobes being enlarged four years previously. Now that he was engaged, at the request of is fiancée and his employer, he decided to rid himself of his enlarged earlobes. He removed his inserts and allowed the earlobes to shrink as much as possible over a period of six months. At their maximum size, they were about an inch in diameter. They did get smaller by about 50% and obtained a droopy deflated appearance.

Under local anesthesia, the holes and the excess tissue that hung down was excised. It is necessary to remove all skin that lines the enlarged hole edges. V-shaped skin flaps are designed and put together along the helical rim to prevent notching as it heals. Because he lived out of town and could not return for suture removal, it was closed with dissolveable sutures and topical glue for a dressing.

He went on heal without any problems and the earlobe scar was fairly indiscernbible. His case illustrates that reconstruction of the ‘gauged’ earlobe is simple and very effective. A normal earlobe size and shape can be obtained. The need for such earlobe reconstruction is increasing as some people decide to move on from this fashion trend or its correction is required by their potential employers or on entering military service.

Case Highlights:

1) Large amounts of gauging or internal expansion of the earlobe will not shrink completely back down. Ideally, one should allow six months to see how the hole will ‘close’ and have the earlobe tissues return to a more normal consistency.

2) One favorable benefit of the enlarged earlobe is that there is a surplus of earlobe tissue to work with during the reconstruction. This makes for a very favorable reconstruction situation.

3) Reconstruction of the gauged earlobe can be done under local anesthesia without any real recovery. It will result in a fine line scar down through the middle of the reshaped earlobe.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis Indiana

Reconstruction of the Double-Split Earlobe Deformity

Friday, August 6th, 2010

The earlobe is most commonly recognized for its ability to retain a variety of different ornaments. Whether it be a piercing or a clip-on ear ring, the relatively small earlobe usually holds up well to support the weight of jewelry. But the earlobe is a rather delicate structure and is the weakest component of one’s ear. Because it lacks any cartilage like the rest of the ear, heavy ear rings or inadvertent pulling on a dangling ear ring can cause a tear or split ear lobe deformity.

The vast majority of split or near-split earlobes are vertical in orientation and singular in number. This is because most people only place one ear ring in the lobe. While some have multiple piercings, they usually are placed higher up along the helical rim away from the ear lobe proper. This is likely because of a spacing issue for the piercings but is also wise biologically due to the thin tissue of the earlobe and blood supply concerns.

When double piercings are placed directly into the earlobe, the split that can develop will bedouble in nature. A double-split ear lobe creates what I call the M-split earlobe deformity. The central nubbin of tissue between the splits shortens and the ear lobe has the outline of the letter M.

This M-split earlobe poses some small challenges in reconstruction. Do you keep the central island of skin between the splits, creating a final Y-shape scar in the earlobe when it is put back together? Or do you remove the central skin segment creating the more typical single vertical line scar albeit it longer due to the need to remove the bunching above it.?While these are seemingly minor issues, one may not think so if it were their earlobe.

By keeping the central skin island and the Y-shaped scar, the size and shape of the earlobe will be kept normal. Discarding the middle tissue island of the M-split and closing as a single vertical line can make the earlobe smaller. As usual, either choice has its tradeoffs.

Using the basic plastic surgery principle of…it is better to leave too much than too little since it is easier to remove than replace…preserving the central island of skin seems best. This keeps the earlobe shape and size that once existed and the scar usually turns out very acceptably. In the advent that the scar healing is unacceptable, a secondary revision can be done to then remove the scar and central island of tissue, making a single vertical scar line.

The double-split earlobe deformity is caused by the unwise decision to place two piercings in the unsupported soft tissue of the earlobe. Double earlobe piercings increase the risk of vertical tissue splits. Its earlobe reconstruction is best initially approached by central island preservation which keeps a more normal earlobe appearance.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Case Study: Reconstruction of the Torn Stretched (Gauged) Earlobe

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Background:  Earlobe stretching (often incorrectly referred to as ear gauging) is the deliberate expansion of an initially healed piercing into a much larger through and through  hole. The purpose of earlobe stretching is for the ultimate purpose of wearing jewelry in the hole. Stretching is usually done in small amounts over time to avoid the potential for tearing the earlobe or causing other problems such as infection. When done too quickly or enlarged beyond the remaining blood supply of the stretched earlobe rim, the skin edges will die and separate.

The practice of earlobe stretching is based upon a well known and used plastic surgery technique…and a method seen since mankind has walked this earth. (pregnancy) Tissue expansion is the concept of using an internal device to slowly stretch out the overlying or enveloping skin. Introduced in plastic surgery for reconstruction in the early 1980s, it is now primarily used in breast reconstruction after mastectomy and in pediatric scalp reconstruction.

Ear stretching is simply applying the same concept to the earlobe. Potential complications are the same including infection, scarring, and thinning of the skin with subsequent breakdown. They are known to occur particularly when the skin stretching is done too fast and the blood supply to the skin is compromised. The earlobe is at a greater risk for this problem because the outer rim of skin is not that thick and it ends up as an expanded skin loop. Blood supply must come in only from the two sides of the loop.

Case Study: This is a classic case of one of the known complications of ear stretching. When one part of the stretched earlobe loop exceeds its blood supply, it will separate. While this can occur anywhere along the loop, it most commonly occurs closer to where the earlobe attaches to the face. This is a 19 year-old male who, by his own admission, was gauging too fast without allowing the requisite time between gauge size increases. While his left ear at the same gauze size was fine, the right earlobe got sore, bleed, and separately a few days later. He was seen in my Indianapolis plastic surgery practice three weeks later.

Reconstruction of this earlobe defect uses a plastic surgery principle that has been created in the stretching…pedicled tube flaps. In days long gone by in plastic surgery, before the use of pedicled flaps and free tissue transfer, the tubed or walking skin flap was a primary reconstruction method. By cutting parallel incisions in skin and rolling the cut ends together, a skin tube or loop was created with the two ends remaining attached for the blood supply to get in. After allowing time for the intervening skin loop to get an enhanced blood supply, one end was released and ‘walked’ toward the defect site. Like a slinky, one end of the tubed flap was cut and reattached over time until one end of the skin loop found its way into the missing tissue area. The longer end of the separated earlobe loop is exactly a tubed flap.

By freshening up the length and end of the long earlobe loop, it can be reattached to the inner stump of the earlobe. Its length will need to be trimmed as the expanded loop is too long. This can be done as a simple procedure in the office under local anesthesia. A normally shaped and size earlobe can be restored. One should expect some shrinking of the size of the earlobe as expanded skin is well known to contract later. Sutures are removed in a week. Patients are not advised to return to any further efforts at stretching.

While ear stretching (gauging) is a destructive fashion trend for the ear, at least it is creating more tissue by expansion. This enables secondary earlobe reconstruction, if needed, to be successfully done. In reconstructive plastic surgery, it is always better to have too much tissue. This is particularly true in the ear where extra tissue is normally hard to come by.

Case Highlights:

1)      Ear stretching (gauging) is based on the plastic surgery principle of tissue expansion. When stretching too fast, necrosis of the earlobe loop can occur by compromising its blood supply.

2)      Reconstruction of the split stretched earlobe can be done using a tubed flap technique. There is almost always enough tissue to recreate a normal size and shape of the earlobe.

3)      Earlobe can be satisfactorily reconstructed in intact or split earlobe stretchings.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Earlobe Reconstruction of the Gauged (Stretched) Earlobe

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Earlobe repairs are often quite simple and use standard techniques for slits and tear deformities. The gauged ear, however, is a different matter.  Gauges, also known as tunnels, cogs, caps or plugs, create a considerable tissue expansion of the earlobe and require a more sophisticated approach to repair.

Younger men with gauged ears are increasingly requesting earlobe repair. This is usually so that they can enroll in the military. If not for this concern, many simply remove the earlobe device and let it shrink and contract with a resulting earlobe deformity.

Like a simple split earlobe repair, gauged ear reconstruction can be done under local anesthesia. In simplicity, the oval cleft of the earlobe is initially converted into a complete cleft by removing the remaining skin margins up to the diameter of the gauged device. The remaining inner earlobe margins (which were up against the device) are de-epithelized. The reapproximation process of the edges then begins at the apex of the cleft margins and runs outward towards the helical margin. By so doing, one can work out any excess vertical length so the repair does not look too long and pointy. A two-layer closure is done at the subcutaneous and skin layers. I prefer skin sutures that have to be removed in 7 to 10 days. No dressing is needed.

In significant ear gauges, a completely normal earlobe may not be possible to get. Usually the earlobe will be a little smaller. But I prefer a well-shaped earlobe that is smaller than one that is more normal in size but has an elongated appearance.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana


Dr. Barry EppleyDr. Barry Eppley

Dr. Barry Eppley is an extensively trained plastic and cosmetic surgeon with more than 20 years of surgical experience. He is both a licensed physician and dentist as well as double board-certified in both Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. This training allows him to perform the most complex surgical procedures from cosmetic changes to the face and body to craniofacial surgery. Dr. Eppley has made extensive contributions to plastic surgery starting with the development of several advanced surgical techniques. He is a revered author, lecturer and educator in the field of plastic and cosmetic surgery.

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