Not many people notice aging or aesthetic changes
of their earlobes, but subtle differences in shape can create a
dramatic effect on the overall beauty and composition of your entire
face. A dead giveaway of a bad facelift is pulling or stretching
of the earlobes. Other unwanted earlobe changes include sagging
of the earlobes from aging or earrings, stretching or tearing of
the ear piercing, thinning of the earlobes, and creases or folds
in the earlobes.
Earlobe contour and position play a vital role in
facial aesthetics. Did you know that the use of earrings dates back
as far as 3500 BCE? Ear jewelry and adornment has been present in
all cultures throughout the world for thousands of years. Many of
the ancient Egyptian mummies were found to be wearing earrings,
and numerous references to earrings are even found in the bible.
Today in many parts of the world, particularly Africa, the earlobes
are purposely stretched and elongated with jewelry for adornment.
To understand what makes an attractive earlobe in
our Western society, we should first take a look at the anatomy
of the earlobe. The earlobes are composed of 2 portions - an attached
upper part and an unattached lower part. There is significant variability
in the shape and contour of the earlobes. Ideally, the earlobe should
comprise about 20% of the length of the ear. The average length
of the lobe itself is about 18 mm. Most people are born with unattached
earlobes. About 30% of people have attached earlobes, which represents
a recessive gene.
As we age, the unattached portions of the earlobes
increase in size. The earlobes also "deflate" by losing
some of the fat under the skin. This results an increase in wrinkles
and creases. Just like elsewhere on the face, the earlobe skin is
susceptible to sun damage. Sun exposure also contributes to wrinkling
of the earlobe as well as discoloration.
When planning a facelift
it is important to take into account the earlobe length, width and
contour. The desired shape and ratio of the attached and unattached
portions of the lobe must be discussed by you and your surgeon.
Older techniques of face-lifting relied heavily on
pulling of the skin to achieve a lift. Right after surgery, you
might look fine, but because the skin has a tendency to stretch
to accommodate tension, over time the earlobe gets dragged down
towards the angle of the jaw. Because of the stretching, the unattached
portion of the earlobe then becomes attached to the face. This is
known as a pixie ear deformity or Devil's ear since it appears very
long and pointed. This earlobe configuration is obviously a dead
give away for a facelift since this ear configuration does not appear
naturally in any culture.
During facelift surgery
the goal is to avoid placing tension on the earlobe or the skin
surface. This is accomplished by placing sutures deep in the muscle
to support the earlobe and avoid pulling on the skin. A facelift
in which only skin is removed and underlying structures are not
addressed is a recipe for disaster.
If the lobe has been stretched or enlarged from aging
or earrings, the earlobes can be reduced at the same time as the
facelift surgery, leaving you with cute little earlobes that are
proportional to the new contour of your more youthful appearing
face. Nobody wants old looking earlobes and a young face!
It is best to avoid earlobe deformities in the first
place, but if you have already had a facelift and are among those
unfortunate who are experiencing distortion of the earlobe, don't
despair. The condition is definitely correctable (although much
easier to prevent in the first place). If the earlobe is pulled
down, correction of the pixie ear does become a challenge. The scarred
region around the earlobe must be released and elevated behind the
ear. Stitches are placed deep beneath the skin to prevent the cheek
from pulling down on the earlobe. The lengthy earlobe can then be
shortened. All of this can be done in the office operating room
with local anesthesia.
Even if you do not have a facelift (or if you have
already had one), enlongated or large earlobes can be shortened
to give them a more youthful appearance. Torn or stretched ear piercing
holes can also be repaired. These minor procedures are performed
in the office with local anesthesia. Once that is healed (usually
after about 6 weeks) the ears can be re-pierced. If your earlobes
are not enlarged, but are thin or have creases, they can also be
improved with injectable fillers like Juvederm
or Restylane, that will plump them
As you can see, earlobe shape does play an important
role in the overall aesthetics of the face. To create balance and
harmony, be sure to take into consideration those little earlobes.
The difference is definitely in the details!
Dr. Jonathan Hoenig provides the most advanced and innovative techniques
in facial plastic surgery and facial rejuvenation today. To learn
more about facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, visit us on
the web at http://www.la-plastic-surgery.com,
or phone toll free 866-HOENIG9.
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