Indian women love flaunting heavy danglers, but this often comes at a cost to their ears, especially those who are middle-aged or are models. No wonder surgery to treat torn earlobes is becoming common in the country.
"You will be surprised to know that it is a very common problem among women who are fond of heavy earrings. Their lower earlobe splits due to the constant heavy weight of earrings," Anup Dhir, senior cosmetic surgeon, Apollo Hospital, told IANS.
"Also, another reason why women get this is they wear these earrings to bed and it constantly rub with the pillow and the ears gets pulled, causing the holes to enlarge," he added.
Common causes of lobe tear include continuously wearing heavy and pendulous earrings, hairbrush or telephone cords pulls, assault or domestic abuse or babies pulling earrings.
"We have to wear a lot of heavy jewellery during bridal or jewellery shows and mostly it is the earlobe that gets affected. So a model has to make sure she balances it out well," model Amanpreet Wahi told IANS.
"Like if she is wearing heavy earrings for a show, she should avoid them at parties or gettogethers; otherwise there are chances of an earlobe split."
This is where earlobe surgery - or lobuplasty - comes in.
On an average, cosmetic surgeons get 7-10 queries related to earlobe surgery in a month. Dhir says in most cases a person has a split or a tear only in one ear because of unconsciously fiddling with it.
Priyanka Varma, 22, a media professional, has completely stopped wearing earrings thanks to the passion for heavy earrings.
"When I joined college, I started wearing heavy earrings every day. I used to love it, but within a year, I saw my left earlobe getting bigger and elongated compared to the right one. So I stopped wearing earrings now for fear of tearing it completely," she said.
The earlobe fixing procedure mainly costs Rs.10,000 to Rs.15,000 and can be done under local anesthesia. But Mumbai-based cosmetic surgeon Meenakshi Agarwal says complex reconstruction can take a few hours and some may require a few stages as well.
"Sometimes the shape might not come out well. One should go to an experienced plastic surgeon for any surgery as you know you are in safe hands," said Agarwal.
The simple precaution one has to take after the procedure is to avoid heavy earrings or wear one with chains that can support the earring.
"Re-piercing can be done only three months after the surgery," explained Dhir.
Though this is a simple surgery, Amit Gupta, cosmetic surgeon in Divine Cosmetic surgery, says there can be problems if a person has excessive scarring. In such cases, the problem can be treated through silicone gels and steroid injections.
Also, sometimes there are unpredictable factors such as keloid (a type of scar) formation or skin contracture (abnormal shortening of muscle tissue) that can disappoint patients and the surgeon.
According to Sanjay Parashar, senior cosmetic surgeon and director of Cocoona India, the ageing process is also one of the factors responsible for lobe tear due to an increase in the bulk, folds or skin creases on the lobes.