Piercing Reconstructed Lobes
We’ve talked in the past about surgeries and scars in regards to piercing. Today, I want to talk about a very specific instance that piercers around the world deal with often- reconstructed lobes. It’s becoming more and more common to encounter clients who for a bevy of reasons need reconstructive work done on their ears. And many are eager to repierce them afterwards, and enjoy fun earrings again. But lobe reconstruction is a unique process and approaching working with reconstructed lobes is a different beast entirely from piercing standard lobes.
What is Lobe Reconstruction?
It’s a surgical process by which the earlobe is reconstructed. This is often done for a range of reasons, the most common few being:
-Reconstructing a torn or split lobe- many folks, from a life time of wearing large earrings, poor initial placement, or an accident, have lobe piercings which have greatly torn, or even entirely split. In these instances reconstruction is a great choice to put the lobe back together in a way that looks as natural as possible.
-Closing stretched lobes- Clients who choose to no longer have stretched ears will often need to go the route of reconstruction to close them, as often stretching is a permanent modification, and for many the lobes don’t shrink, or don’t shrink enough to make a difference. That said the processes of closing stretched lobes has come a long way, and often clients are able to pierce their ears again, and sometimes even stretch again.
-Correcting poor placement- unfortunately many clients have lobe piercings that were done too low, too high, or crooked, usually as a result of piercing guns. These placements can prevent future piercing goals, or if too low or angled risk tearing and splitting. In order to prevent that from happening, folks will get a reconstruction before they have a full split or major tear! This is smart because the less initial trauma the easier and more successful the reconstruction often can be. If you know a piercing is very low or could easily tear, repairing it before that happens is always smart.
What goes into each reconstruction is as unique as the client getting it done, but it does typically include cutting and suturing the ear back together, particularly for split and torn lobes. Initial healing can be a few weeks to a few months. However, when it comes to getting them repierced, that is a different story.
One Year Minimum, no exceptions
When it comes to piercing reconstructed lobes you need to wait at least a year. And for some clients it may be longer. Much as I mentioned in my article about plastic surgery and piercing (which you can read here) doctors sometimes give sooner timeframes, usually from a lack of understanding of what’s happening when it comes to piercing. But we really do need things to be incredibly well healed before repiercing. With lobes, we are often piercing fairly close to scarring from the reconstruction, and we need that tissue to be as healthy and stable as possible. And it is well medically documented that scar maturation can take a year, sometimes a few years, to finish happening.
The worse case of repiercing a reconstruction too soon, or improperly with the scarring, is simply splitting the lobe back open along the scar- leaving you in the exact place you were before reconstruction, sometimes worse! And, yes, I have had the misfortune of having this happen to a client- she saw a different piercer only 3 months after her reconstruction, and she needed to have a second reconstruction done. Her doctor no longer tells clients they can be pierced any sooner then a year.
Find a Piercer with experience
Reconstructed lobes are not remotely the same as piercing healthy lobes. Working around the scar tissue, and understanding how to place things to prevent it from tearing again, are key. It’s important to find a piercer with experience working on reconstructed lobes, and ideally with a good portfolio of reconstructed or altered lobe work to show. I have seen folks have beautiful reconstructions ruined because someone didn’t understand how to work with the tissue. Absolutely do your research and find a piercer you feel safe and confident can give you the piercings of your dreams! Expect a prolonged healing process, and starting off with smaller, simpler jewelry. Particularly in the case of tears and splits- heavy jewelry often got you there to begin with, so we won’t be rushing back to very large or heavy pieces.
Can I stretch after a reconstruction?
This is on a case by case basis- and if you are interested in stretching I encourage you to find an experienced piercer for an in person consultation. It’s sometimes possible to, but an experienced piercer will need to both see and feel your lobes, discuss the risks, and make a game plan! Stretching will likely go much slower than if it were on non altered lobes, and you should have realistic goals for your ears as well.
More and more clients are turning to reconstruction to fix their lobes- and I love that! For years folks thought they were stuck with torn lobes or unable to wear jewelry of their dreams and I’m glad more folks are realizing their are options out there for them! That being said it’s more work than many expect to be repierced after a reconstruction, and takes much longer than many realize. For all the effort you put into getting a reconstruction done and fixing your lobes, don’t waste it by rushing to be repierced right away, or seeing someone who won’t do a safe job.