Model at Dimitri by Dimitrios Panagiotopoulos fashion show during Berlin Fashion Week on July 7, 2010. Photo: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images
I love gold hoop earrings, but my obsession with wearing big baubles have often placed me in painful and embarrassing situations such as getting caught in scarves and being pulled into my MacBook's magnet screen. Yet, I've never considered my ears when detecting signs of early aging.
According to Dr. Edward Miranda, board certified San Francisco-based plastic surgeon, there are three major risks tied to wearing heavy earrings:
1. Generally occurring shortly after initial piercing, infection may be mild and self-limited.
2. Earrings worn at the earlobe add weight across a thin strip of skin. Over time, just as in any area of the body, wear and tear from gravity will stretch the earlobe piercing from a round hole to an oval. The earlobe elongates and thins from the weight and ultimately can rupture, splitting the earlobe.
3. Large, hoop and dangling earrings can get caught on objects or tugged by children and pets, and can cause the earring to be ripped off the ear producing a laceration and earlobe rupture.
Saggy earlobes are gaining attention among surgeons focused on anti-aging as women flock to their offices for a "lobe lift." The procedure includes two styles: one is for an earlobe where the piercing has become elongated, and the second is for earlobes that have simply become thinner and longer with age.
"If the piercing is part of the problem, the surgeon can reduce or eliminate the piercing and use the available skin to lift and plump up the earlobe with minimal scarring," said Dr. Miranda. "Stitches are generally in place for five to seven days and stud earrings can be worn after healing. However, if the piercing is not part of the problem, and elongation of the lobe itself is the issue, a small incision can be made behind the ear and the earlobe can be lifted. Earrings can be worn after healing is completed. Costs for both procedures are in the $1500 to $3000 range."
Dermal fillers such as Juvederm or Restylane are alternatives to plump the earlobes for an effective and somewhat temporary (about nine months to one year) fix. However, Dr. Miranda warns that these treatments do not make the earlobe stronger.
He adds, "The earlobe is an unusual body structure as it has skin on two sides. This makes it prone to water loss and sun exposure. Consequently daily moisturizers and sunblock with SPF 15 or higher will likely delay the aging process."
Are you a fan of large earrings? Would you consider giving your lobes a lift?