earlobe reconstruction journey

by Kaylah Stroup
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!

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 – check out my four-month update here!

A one year update can be found here!



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