earlobe reconstruction journey

Fair warning to squeamish friends – there are photos of stitches in this post. Nothing gory or bloody, just some stitches.

 

Notice anything different about me?

Perhaps you never noticed my ears before because when I went through some old photos I realized just how little you could even see them in photos. For over half of my life I’ve had my earlobes stretched. I started in middle school. ‘Oh my gosh, I would never go bigger than double zero!’ – A quote from fifteen-year-old Kaylah. I absorbed all the information I could on the subject, and stretched very slowly to ensure my lobes would be beautiful and healthy.

At the age of eighteen, I took up a trip to Syracuse to meet up with someone I had found on a body modification website to scalpel my lobes. I was happy with the size I was currently at but I was unhappy with the way one of them sat. I was determined for them to look a very particular way and this individual helped me achieve that.

For the past nine years, my ears have been stretched to 38mm. I’ve put tons of money into jewelry, and lots of time and love into these things but I recently decided I wanted them sewn up. I hesitated to write this post just because it’s hard to explain. If there’s one thing I want to make abundantly clear it’s that I don’t regret stretching my ears. If I could go back in time, I’d still stretch them. I thought they looked beautiful. But it just felt like it was time to move on. I can’t think of any other thing to compare it to but it’s a feeling I’ve felt before with other piercings I’ve taken out. Maybe you’ve experienced it, maybe you don’t understand at all…

Before. 38mm.

It was a spur of the moment decision to contact the same person who scalpeled my lobes back in 2008. I very, very briefly looked into a plastic surgeon but was ultimately uncomfortable with the shame their websites seemed to imply. “Oh, you followed some trend and you regret it? We can help your sorry butt!” Also, while I’m not denying that plastic surgeons are skilled, I don’t think they’re the best candidates for something like this. Going to someone who was extremely familiar with this sort of body modification was important to me. I felt like he’d understand my reasoning, not judge my choices, and of course, give me the best final results.

Anyway, after contacting John and receiving confirmation that he’d do it, the date couldn’t come soon enough. I remember exactly where I was and the feeling the washed over me when I got the email. It was real. A month prior I had only thought about myself without huge lobes in passing. I didn’t think it was a decision I’d be making any time in the next ten years, let alone this year. I told no one outside of Jeff. I take that back, I told a barista. She complimented my ears and my response was “Thanks, I’m getting them cut off in a week!” Haha!

Day 2. Bruised and fairly tender.

September 17th, Jeff and I took a mini road trip up to New York. I was beyond stressed. I felt like puking all day long. I was excited but also incredibly nervous. I knew it’s what I wanted but at the same time I was worried I’d regret it. That I’d come home and just sob. The same way you do after getting your hair cut off, except this was a piece of me that wouldn’t grow back.

I had watched a few vlogs about earlobe reconstruction before going and got the impression it’d be pretty rough. From the information I had I was assuming it’d knock me on my butt for a few days. Surprisingly enough, the process was a breeze. He prepared the area with a local anesthetic to minimize the pain during the procedure. When he first started I said “are you even touching me?” There was a bit of discomfort from time to time, as you would expect. Toward the end I could feel a few of the stitches being put in but compared to what I had braced myself for this was nothing.

Three and half hours later, I walked out with new earlobes. I WAS GLOWING. Seriously, I couldn’t stop smiling. I had just been this bundle of stress leading up to this moment but it was suddenly gone completely. I was bit bloodied, and a lot tired (mostly just from the stress but also because I just had surgery) but I felt like a whole new person. I’ve basically been on cloud nine ever since. I was (still am) obsessed with looking at myself in the mirror. Something Jeff mentioned, that I had also noticed right away, was that you could see my face a lot better. Obviously, my ears in no way obstructed the view of my face but I guess they were distracting? It doesn’t really make sense but when he said it I was like “I thought the same thing!!”

earlobe reconstruction, the dainty squid, earlobes sewn up

Day 5. Significantly less bruising and perhaps the best they looked during the healing process! Over the next few days they’d get really crusty.

To be honest, I thought I’d take so many more photos and write so much more about this whole journey but it’s been so anti-climatic. I mean, obviously it’s a big deal that I have brand spankin’ new earlobes but the procedure and healing process was/have been a breeze.

On our little mini trip I brought along only black shirts, and a bunch of them at that, because I was so convinced that I’d just be bleeding profusely. The first night, in particular, was something I was worried about. I didn’t want to leave this bloody crime scene on the hotel pillow. Despite being a side sleeper, I somehow managed to stay on my back all night. It probably wouldn’t have mattered too much anyway. Blood was extremely minimal throughout the healing process.

Day 10. Lost a few stitches.

Aside from the procedure itself I think the worst day might have been the night we took out my stitches. Jeff taking them out wasn’t painful (except that time he pulled one through that still had some crusties on it. Ouch!) but they were so tender and puffy the following twenty-four hours. This was the only point where I felt even the tiniest bit upset about my new lobes. John had even mentioned multiple times not to worry about any redness after taking the stitches out, that it’s normal for them to look a bit weird. When he was telling me this I was thinking “well, duh!” but something about when it actually happened made me all emotional.

All bad feelings faded away by morning, I woke up excited yet again.

I have spent so much time in the mirror this last month admiring my new looks. I feel like I look SO much different. Its been a bit weird to break out of old habits. Before leaving the house I usually try and bump my plugs with my shoulder, which was my way of making sure I was wearing some. Sitting at my computer, I’d often stroke my lobes mindlessly the same way someone might play with their hair. Now I reach up and find something completely different. Some mornings I hop in the shower and feel a bit of panic because I don’t remember taking out my plugs and I certainly wouldn’t want to get them wet. Basically, I have fourteen-year-old habits that need broken.

Still, I haven’t had a moment of regret. I am completely and utterly in love with my ears. They are so damn cute.

Day 15. Stitches out for two days.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing what they’ll look like in another month. It’s amazing to me how quickly they’re healing. It was recommended to me to use Bio-Oil to help with the scarring so I’m curious to see how much that helps. In the photo above my scars look so obvious but to be honest, I don’t even notice them in the mirror. Not to mention in the few days since those photos were taken they already look so much better. They’re not sore but the scars are a bit sensitive which seems pretty normal. All in all, I’m shocked how quickly and easily this all seems to be going. I really, really thought the healing process would be a lot worse but it’s been a dream!

I’ll be sure to keep taking photos of so I can update y’all in another few months about my beautiful new earlobes. Reading over this post I almost feel like I didn’t share enough, so by all means, if you have any questions let me know and I’ll possibly write up a FAQ with my next photo update!
xoxo

ears sewn up, the dainty squid, kaylah doolan, ears, earlobe scarring

Just want to make it 100% clear upfront that any “I liked them better before” or “Glad you got that done” comments will be deleted immediately. Getting my earlobes reconstructed in no way means that I regret stretching them or that I didn’t think they looked good. This isn’t about one being better than the other.

Update 10/17 – One month post earlobe reconstruction surgery photo added below!

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Author: Kaylah

Just a green haired gal from Cleveland, Ohio.

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  • Thanks for posting about this! My husband has wanted to have his lobes stitched and I’ve been curious about the healing process.

  • I’m impressed! It didn’t even occur to me that this could be done, and it looks so natural. I have one silly question: would the scarring prevent you from getting your lobes pierced if that’s something you wanted?

  • They look so good and I kinda like the scars? I’m a scar-fanatic… I don’t know why :S
    I totally understand what you mean about not regretting something but just… being ready to not have it in your life anymore? I loved how they looked when you had them but these new little lobes look kinda cool too! Would you ever be able to have them pierced again?

    • Thanks, Sam! You know, I actually like the scar too! Scars tell stories, so I don’t really mind them too much.

      And yes, I’ll be able to get them re-pierced sometime in the future if I decide to do so. πŸ™‚

  • i’m happy you are happy! it pleases me greatly when people do things for them and no one else. and i am especially thrilled with how you are firm in your BE NICE, DAMMIT request. you are good people, ms. kaylah!
    p.s. you are so pretty and fun, your ears are perfect both ways!

  • I know someone who really wants to get his ears stretched but he is a teenager and the adults responsible for him don’t want him to do it because they think it’s a permanent modification and they’re worried he’ll ‘grow out of it’ one day. I want to show them your post now. It probably won’t change their minds, but it’s good to know that it can be done. I’m glad that you’re happy with your new look. I was really surprised but I love your whole attitude towards the change! You’re awesome!

    • Well, it is a permanent modification. This definitely wasn’t cheap, and not not a big deal. I don’t necessarily know where I stand on the issue, honestly. Like some teenagers are able and mature enough to make those decisions and others really probably should wait – ya know?

      But thank you! πŸ™‚

  • I honestly forgot you had plugs! You look cute either way and I am sure it is going to be weird for a long time whenever you tuck your hair behind your ear. I am curious also how quickly they heal up. Are you going to wear regular earrings once they are all cleared up?

  • I’m so happy for you! I know the exact feeling you talked about where your just kind of over it? Done? With a piercing? It’s so weird but it’s like a moment of growth you can feel where you’re not the same person you were before. Not in ANY way is that meant negatively but just like time has passed and you’re renewed and it’s purely magical. You are positively beaming in the pics you posted the healing looks like it was a breeze πŸ’•πŸ’•

  • Oh my gosh, they look so good! I had always wondered how the repair process would work and how it’d look after. I’m curious, would one still be able to wear regular earrings/pierce your ears after this procedure, or would there be issues with piercing them once they’re completely healed?

  • You liked one thing and now you looked a different thing. Just like changing your hair color doesn’t mean you didn’t like your old one. You just wanted a new one! I’m glad the procedure went okay. Very brave!

  • Kayla, thanks for sharing this! It was really interesting. A few years ago I took out my nose piercings. I had both nostrils pierced one I had for about 10 years and the other was more recent. I decided I wanted to look more “professional” for my job. It was both freeing and really sad to take them out because of had them for so long like you said. Sometimes I still miss them but then I think about the boogers lol! And I’m with you, I would totally get my nose pierced again if I could redo my younger years. I hope that you share another healing update down the road!

  • After following you for so many years this is definitely one thing I never thought I’d see you do, but it looks cute!

    There are certain crazes I never got into, and I think it’s because I was a home body and was never subjected to it all that often but lobe stretching and shaving half your head were a couple I was never brave enough to do. Like you said, I told myself I’d never go past a double zero and I never did!! But I just wasn’t brave enough. Some people can pull it off and some people like me are just big chickens πŸ™‚

    They look lovely. Are you thinking about getting them pierced once they are all healed?

    • Thanks! I’m not sure yet. I was all excited to get them pierced again before I actually got them sewn up but now I’m just enjoying my new naked lobes. We’ll see how I feel in another year… πŸ˜›

  • How cool! I wish I could get my lip piercing hole sealed up, obviously its only tiny but I wish it wasn’t there. I didn’t even know if they can do that but I don’t have the funds anyway :/

    • You can do that! I didn’t even realize it was a thing but I’ve been seeing it a lot of it on social media lately.

  • I think you’ll come up with something super crafty to do with the plugs so you can display them somehow! Also, will you be able to pierce your ears in the future if you decide to?

    • Yeah, I’ve read to wait somewhere between 6 months and a year but totally forgot to ask John, who did my ears, what he recommended. I’m in no rush though. I’m very happy with my new naked lobes for the time being. πŸ˜€

  • I am in the same boat with the same exact feelings! Thank you for posting this info and sharing your experience!! Would you mind sharing where you went to get this done? I would definitely like to do the same with my ears but don’t know where to start. Are you thinking of ever having them pierced again?

    • Thanks, Lauren!

      I’m not really sure that he advertises that he does this so I’m not comfortable sharing his details with someone I don’t know. I hope you understand!

      I’ll most likely get them re-pierced someday but I’m in no real rush. πŸ™‚

  • Loved reading this! I had my ears stretched for years and one night I was lying in bed and just popped them out. never went back. Thankfully they healed up pretty well on their own and shrunk down to a decent size. I did however, keep my plug collection for YEARS lol. Congrats on your new ear journey!

  • I had no idea this was even a thing that you could do! Reading through this was really interesting, thank you so much for sharing. You look beautiful either way Kaylah and I am glad that you are happy with the process and your decision!

  • Thank you for sharing your experience, w/ such a detailed description + pictures! It can be a no-win situation on the Internet – people get angry if you get body mods, people get upset if you take them away. If you’re happy, that’s all that matters.

    I actually just started stretching my lobes again after being at the same size for 10+years, so I currently have no plans to do a reconstruction myself, but I sure do like hearing about it, just in case πŸ™‚

      • I went from 16mm to 26mm. I’m mostly happy so far – aesthetically, I’m liking the look of a larger plug on me, and I like having more ‘real estate’ on my jewelry to show off a design.

        The downside is, I have a pretty awesome collection of 16mm jewelry that I built over the years, and a lot of my pieces are from companies that no longer exist, or styles that have since been discontinued, so repurchasing in a larger size isn’t an option. So I haven’t quite figured out how I want to deal with that yet πŸ™‚

  • They look awesome! Your surgeon did an amazing job! I’m also glad you could find someone who wouldn’t judge you about it πŸ™‚ and seriously, I love your style. I wish I had the energy and time to put in to keeping my hair so many amazing colours! The most drastic I’ve done is accidentally dying it a highlighter purple in high school (it was supposed to be a dark plum).

  • Duuuddddeee, they look so gooooood! I’ve thought about getting mine reconstructed a few times before, similarly to you, I dont regret them, just kinda fancy a change; and to wear nice earrings maybe!! But I am SUCH a wimp with anything needly so I’ve never gone through with it.

    So happy you’re super happy with them.

  • Oh exciting! They look great!!! I had no idea you could do that although I can’t imagine why you COULDN’T. The stitches look kind of badass. So could you/will you get a regular ear piercing now? Like, eventually? I’m sure they’re still super delicate now.
    Sometimes I think about taking out my nosering but I’m so nervous I’ll regret and I wouldn’t get it redone if I did.

    • I can, and I proooobably will. I haven’t made up my mind yet though. I do like the idea of collecting earrings and having lots and lots to choose from though. πŸ˜›

  • I loved reading this, I didn’t stretch my ears beyond a 00 so they healed up by themselves so it’s really interesting to read the process! It’s SO normal to change your mind on something, I hate how people try and shame others for altering body mods. People don’t get all accusatory if someone changes any other part of their appearance, it’s no different.

    • I don’t know what on earth I could of said here that you deemed negative as I can’t think of any other reason you’d leave my comment in moderation yet approve and respond to everyone else. I’ve read your blog for years and was only trying to show my support, honestly I’m a little hurt.

      • Uh, not really sure what to say here other than I think you misjudged what was going on. There are a HUGE number of comments still in moderation. I’ve just been skipping around, responding to shorter ones and ones at the top or bottom of the page as it refreshes. No rhyme or reason, just trying to tackle this incredibly daunting task throughout the day a few at a time. It hurts me that you wouldn’t be just a little bit more patient and understanding.

  • Thank You For Posting This: It was very interesting to me I have one earlobe that split in half due to heaving earrings πŸ™ the other ear hole is not stretched all the way through it is very thin I have a lot of earrings as well and now I only wear them on my left side πŸ™ its cute but I was wondering what your advice would be?
    Also I Love Your Style Very Cute πŸ˜€

    • If it’s something that bothers you, I’d definitely look into getting it fixed. Something like that should be no big deal at all!
      Best of luck to ya! πŸ™‚

    • If it’s something that bothers you, I’d definitely look into getting it fixed. Something like that should be no big deal at all!
      Best of luck to ya! πŸ™‚

  • Well I love both! πŸ™‚ Never really wanted to have stretches myself, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t adore the look on others.
    I’m looking forward seeing the progress. πŸ™‚

  • I’m really glad you shared your experience. I don’t plan to get mine sewn up anytime soon, but it’s something I’ve considered for the future if I ever feel like going in that direction. I don’t know too many people that have got their’s sewn up who don’t act negative about one side or the other, so I’m glad to hear how your journey has gone so far!

  • Thank you for sharing.
    My daughter has had her lobe pierced twice. The second time was because the original hole closed. Now she has a hole that is too large to hold an earring. She came to me the other night crying worried that her ear was ruined for all of time. I have never looked into plastic surgery because I figure it’ll be a huge expense because it’s elective.

    • Definitely not my area of knowledge, but I’m actually pretty sure that’s a lot easier of a fix than you might think!

      (Actually reading back over your comment, I’m not sure if you mean she stretched it or that it stretched over time since earlobes tend to do that – either way, if it’s super important to her it’s definitely worth saving up for! Might not be as costly as you’re imagining)

      πŸ™‚

  • Maybe as a final goodbye to ear plugs you should write a post about your collection. The memories that were made with some special ones or your favorite ones and least favorite ones. i would love to read about it!!

  • They look so good! I’ve known several people who were/still are a part of the ~body modz scene~ and got their lobes reconstructed and they all share the same feeling of it being time to move on. After 12 years of having mine stretched I’m thinking about it also. Do you ever feel the same way about your older tattoos?

    • Thanks, Hannah!

      Not really. I have a few smaller things I wouldn’t mind covering up but I don’t really even think about, like it’s not a huge deal.

  • GIRL THEY LOOK SO GOOD! It’s definitely different seeing you without them but I think Jeff was right when he said you can see your face better! I totally get that! Also I have a question: if you wanted to pierce your ears again and just start wearing regular earrings would you be able to?

  • Your ears look really nice with or without the plugs. The best part of this story is how happy you are with your decision. I know the feeling of just waking up and being done with your piercing. I had an eyebrow piercing for 17 years and I felt so ugly whenever I had to remove it. Then one day I looked in the mirror and thought I’d feel more beautiful without it. No regrets..just ready to move on. It’s been a few months now and I still get that phantom piercing feeling that you’re experiencing with your ears..I wonder if it ever goes away!

  • So interesting! I’ve never really thought about how this process works. Thank you for sharing! I’ve had my lobes stretched since 2004, but I never went past 00. I feel like they’re a part of me at this point… I just kinda forget they’re there. Are you considering re piercing your ears once they’re healed, so you can wear earrings? Is that even a possibility, or is there too much scar tissue?

    • I feel ya! My lobes were definitely a HUGE part of me. I was worried I wouldn’t look like me without them.

      Yes, definitely! I’ve read that you should wait 6 months to a year but honestly, I was so excited after everything was over that I forgot to ask.

  • I’ve had my ears stretched for about the same amount of time, though not as large, and decided this year to take my plugs out. In the past 5 years for some reason my left ear would randomly get pissed off… and I thought man I’d like to wear some small diamonds in my ears. They’re still a lot bigger than a regular piercing and I won’t lie I have a pair of tiger ebony spirals I still hold from time to time and miss, but overall I like my decision. You have to do what’s right for you. I made a suggestion to this little kid once and he said “I am the decider.” Whoa. Mantra from a 4 year old.

    • Hahaha. “I am the decider” that’s the best! That kid is going places!

      But yeeeeah, I’m kind of really excited about eventually treating myself to some fancy earrings.

  • They look fantastic!!! I have 00g which I’m hoping would just close up naturally, but who knows. They’re pretty inconspicuous right now so I’m okay with them. I recently took out my lip ring, which I’d had for 16 years, I didn’t regret it but I just wanted a change and wanted to make it easier to wear lipstick. I can totally relate! One thing though, you may want to look at pure rosehip oil rather than bio oil, it’s less likely to cause a reaction & is great for scars!

  • My favourite thing about the new look may just be how clearly you are owning your decisions, and making it known that this is your body, your choice, and that sometimes it is just time to move on ❀ You rock, girl.

  • I’m glad the whole process went smoothly and with minimal pain! Once they’re completely healed you can get that Mederma scar cream which should help smooth out and whiten the scars too. I think you are super brave to have done this! And I agree with you, they looked great before and they look great now!

  • I love it both ways πŸ™‚ I had my ears stretched and recently decided to down size them, in the process of it. I too don’t regret the choice to stretch them and to now move on and downsize πŸ™‚

  • Did you eat yours or keep them? I know tons of people that have had theirs sewn up. The ones by Piercer’s always look so much better than surgeons. ❀️

  • You were gorgeous with them and you are gorgeous without them – glad you’re happy! I’ve never read anything about people getting earlobe reconstruction so this was super interesting!

  • I understand the feeling but… with a tattoo. Bad news: it is not easy erase a tattoo. πŸ™
    My tattoo us forever and I have to find a new way to feel comfortable again. And it is the same: I don’t regret, I like it, but there’s something missed.
    What do you think?

  • So happy that you did what you wanted and they turned out so well! Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve never stretched my ears, but I understand what you mean, I felt very similar when i’ve taken out most of my retired piercings.

  • Thank you for sharing! Mine are much smaller at 5/8, but I’ve been considering surgery for awhile. Please keep us updated!

      • So… I did it! I had them sewn shut on Dec. 28 and I couldn’t be happier. THANK YOU again for sharing this on your blog; it was really the push I needed to move forward with mine as well. Like you I definitely don’t regret it, and I had 17 good years with my gauges, but it was just time for something new. Here’s to all the cute studs and dangly earrings we will buy in 2018!

  • I will say “glad you got that done,” not because I think they look better one way or the other but because if getting it done makes you happy, hey, I’m glad you got it done! I think they look great both ways, & I totally understand wanting to change your look, even one you spent so much time & intentionality cultivating; it’s a big change! It’s totally within your rights to do whatever the hell you want with your body, as long as it makes you happy & confident. Your “new ears” look great, & I love how much you love them!

  • This was such an interesting read! I’ve been following you for the longest time, and I would always admire the pretty wooden jewels you would wear, as I didn’t have the confidence nor patience to stretch my ears myself. It’s amazing to see the transformation, and fantastic to hear how happy you are with them! My Mum has just had a major op, and has invested in a ton of Bio-Oil – I can also completely vouch for you to give it ago once your ears aren’t feeling too tender! πŸ™‚

  • How about a good for you!! I had to tell you…to make this quick (which I never amπŸ˜‚) when I first “found ya” I read ur blog looked at ur pics “thought this chicks pretty cool”…. I NEVER noticed your ears. Then I did and I thought wow look at her ears!! (honestly don’t care) but all I could think was. .How in the world did I not see them??? Point to story..now their gone ..and I still didn’t notice…πŸ˜•πŸ˜‚ I thought it was funny..had 2 share.

    • Hahah! Yeah, it’s funny because they were such a huge part of my life but after getting them all stitched up, I realized they weren’t really wildly apparent on the blog. I mentioned them from time to time and every once in a while they’d stand out in photos but for the most part I think it’d be pretty easy to totally miss them!

  • I find this so fascinating because I, like a lot of others it seems, didn’t notice the plugs in the first few photos I ever saw on the blog and didn’t realize their absence now. The way that you rocked 38mm lobes in such a dainty fashion and also could pass them undetected is one of the major inspirations for me as I continue my own stretching journey to 32mm. But even as your own journey ends, I really applaud you for your transparency through this next step. Body modification is about transformations to reflect who you are, and the self should never stop evolving – so why should modifications? πŸ™‚

  • AHH I feel the same way about my ears. I’ve had them at 3/4 for almost 10 years and love them, but earlier this year I had the urge to see what they would look like smaller. So I took them out for a couple months, they’re at 00 now. I do miss my ears being bigger but as the same time I want to see them “normal” you know?
    Thank you for sharing and explaining why you chose not to go with a plastic surgeon. Up until not I though that was the only option for earlobe reconstruction.

    • I wouldn’t necessarily think that would be a good idea (or a money smart move…) That’d be something to talk to the professional who does it for you about.

  • So, I didn’t even know that earlobe reconstruction is a thing until I saw your most recent Instagram update and hopped over to read this post, which I clearly missed when you shared it! It never occurred to me that just like stretching your earlobes, you could have them reconstructed to be smaller and without a hole at all. Wild!

    I think you look great with stretched ears and without β€” I’m glad you’re happy with the results and I’m glad they seem to be healing super well! Surgeries always make me SO nervous, for myself and others, so success stories make me super happy!

  • I understand feeling ambivalent (i.e. I liked 38 mm and I like having reconstructed earlobes). I think sometimes there are things that work for us for a season of our lives and it’s okay to say “that was great but it’s not serving me anymore so I’m making a choice for MYSELF to do something different.” You don’t owe anyone an explanation but thank you for sharing your journey!

  • They look great! In the last year I’ve been thinking about getting done mine too, this post really helps. Would you ever get them repierced just to wear regular earrings?

  • I understand what you meant, I have felt that way when I have taken piercings out. They were a part of my life for so many years. But, your earlobes look great! Even if the scars stay I think they look pretty cool!