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Medically Reviewed By Dr. Moraitis

You see them on the streets and can’t help but notice: Ear piercings enlarged with ear gauges or plugs, sometimes leaving a gaping hole in the earlobe up to an inch in diameter.

Ear gaging grew in popularity in the United States towards the end of the 20th century. Now, a couple decades later, we are seeing an increase in cosmetic surgery to repair these indiscreet body modifications of youth. Many who have ear gages are now realizing that they are not becoming in terms of job hunting or work, and unlike tattoos, can’t be hidden with clothing.

Once ears are stretched past half-inch in diameter, they will not be able to shrink back to their original, or normal, size. So, actually removing the excess skin from the ear is mandatory. With the help of internal and external stitches, the earlobe is reshaped to a smaller size with minimal scarring. Dr. Moraitis will numb the ear for the approximately 40-minute procedure, but the patient stays awake.

Earlobe reconstruction surgery is more well-known in the United Kingdom rather  than in the United States, says Dr. Michael Edwards, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. And there is a price to pay for repair: Surgery can range from $1,000 to $3,000.