Whether they were accented with fringe, beads, or gemstones, tassel and statement earrings took over in 2017. There’s no doubting their ability to make an outfit, but some by the mere fact of hardware developed the reputation of being a little heavy. That brought up the question—could they be stretching out your earlobes?
In a word, yes. That’s not to say earrings are the only blame or the only cause. Our earlobes have the potential to stretch out as we age—but consistent weight pulling them down could make it happen sooner.
Droopy earlobes is something board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Melissa Doft says she sees all the time in her office. "In many cases, the patients are older-50s+, but sometimes they are young patients who have been wearing heavy earrings since they were teenagers and the weight of the earrings have stretched their earlobes. I think there is an increase in patients raising this concern. The increase mirrors the change in fashion from smaller earrings to statement jewelry. Moreover, there is an increase because women are starting to become aware that they may be able to fix the problem with a simple solution."
Double board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive facial plastic surgeon Dr. Dara Liotta says that another cause, unrelated to accessories, is a loss of fat in the earlobes that occurs over time, causing the earlobe to thin. A sign of this is stud earrings tipping forward and down.
So what is this simple solution? When thinness is the issue, not size, Dr. Liotta says that filler can be used to "plump the earlobe and allow the earring to sit better."
Dr. Melissa Doft also offers this solution in her practice. "Hyaluronic acid can easily and fairly painlessly be injected into the earlobe," she adds. "This is a less sensitive location than the nasolabial lines and lips. Due to a lack of facial muscles, the fillers tend to last longer in this location so many patients will have re-injections every 1-2 years."
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However, when the drooping has caused the size of the earlobe to drastically change, Dr. Liotta says an earlobe reduction surgery might be required. "It involves taking off part of the earlobe, and creating a smaller, more plump lobe."
But what if your problem is a stretched earring hole? The fix is slightly more intensive than a dose of filler. "A stretched earring hole can happen accidentally after wearing heavy earrings for a long time, getting a traumatic tug on the earring at some point, or after wearing earrings that you’re allergic to for a long time," says Dr. Liotta. "The cycle of inflammation, infection, and crusting can stretch the hole. I also see this after intentional gauging of the earlobe. In this case, the entire earring hole usually needs to be surgically cut out, allowed to heal, and then the earlobe can be re-pierced after three months. Again, in this situation, the earlobe is normal size. It’s just the earring hole that has stretched too much."
Don't get it twisted—wearing heavy earrings every now and then isn't going to drastically change your earlobes, but if you're concerned, you can make subtle switches. Dr. Liotta suggests wearing plastic rather than metal because it's less dense, while Dr. Doft says to take them out before you go to bed.