Indian and South Asian women are known for their heavy dangling earrings, but wearing them comes at a risk to their ears. Torn earlobes are a common problem, especially in middle-aged women who have abused their ears for years.
Under the weight and pull of pendulous earrings, the lower earlobe can split cleanly in a person who is lucky or in a jagged fashion in a woman who is not.
Multiple slitting is not rare.
If an earring is tugged by mistake or gets caught on the hair, clothing, a hair brush, a telephone cord, or a baby's fingers, the sudden pull can cause irregular ripping that is difficult to repair. Usually, the cartilage is unaffected.
Even unconscious fiddling with earrings by the wearer can cause problems. While the ear lobe may not split, it can gradually grow bigger, longer, and become more susceptible to future tearing.
Especially with thicker ear piercings, the hole can grow larger and unsightly.
Cosmetic repair of a torn or deformed earlobe is known as lobuloplasty, a cosmetic surgery procedure that is common in India.
While most repairs are relatively straightforward and take less than twenty minutes, complex reconstructions can last several hours and require multiple operations.
Results can be disappointing in some cases due to heavy scarring, keloid formation, or contracture of the underlying tissue, all of which can cause permanently misshapen ear lobes.
Injectable fillers may be needed to even out remaining irregularities, and steroid injections may be required to combat chronic inflammation.
While ear lobe tearing can occur at any age, aging seems to make the ear more vulnerable to trauma due to the natural increase in skin folding and creasing that weakens its internal structure and strength.
Special chains hidden in the hair can support heavy earrings, but they are seldom used. Some women seem not to learn from past experience. Following surgical repair, many get their ears re-pierced after just a few months.
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