For the majority of my teen years (starting my freshman year of high school) I had stretched earlobes, or, as they are more commonly known, gauges.
SIDE NOTE : referring to stretched earlobes or other body parts as having gauges is actually improper. A gauge is a unit of measurement used to describe the size of body jewelry. So the size of a piece of jewelry is a certain gauge, but the jewelry itself (or your ear) is not called that. Referring to your stretched piercings as gauges drives me bonkers.
By the time I was 18 I had stretched my earlobes to the size they would remain at, which was 5/8's of an inch in diameter. For a rough estimate of reference, I would say that is about the width of your thumbnail, give or take. So they weren't huge like many people's, but they were pretty big. My mom HATED them. And everyone in my family told me I would regret them one day, but hey, you can't reason with a teenager, you just can't.
Around the time that I turned 23, I began to be severely bored of my ears. I didn't hate them, and I didn't regret them like my mother had warned me that I would, but they had lost their pizzaz. I was no longer interested in my jewelry, and most days I forgot to put jewelry in. So, I decided that the best way to spice it up was to shrink my ears down. I wasn't intending to get rid of them completely; I knew that for how big they were they wouldn't completely go away....I just wanted a smaller size so that I could wear all the cool, intricate, tribal looking earrings that never came in my gauge size.
Something happened that I did not anticipate. As I was shrinking my ears (which is simply done by leaving the jewelry out and letting my body attempt to heal the holes,) my earlobes started to become severely misshapen. The skin came to a kind of point at the bottom. At first, I didn't really notice, but as the holes got smaller, I became really self conscious about the way they looked. And even though I purchased those cool earrings I previously mentioned, I still always forgot to wear them. So I started thinking about getting them stitched. I figured it would be really easy, I have 3 different friends that I know of who have had the procedure. But surprisingly it was really hard to find a doctor who had experience with this procedure. I had two opposing opinions, the first was that any good plastic surgeon could do what I needed, and the second was that I had to find a surgeon who had tons of experience in earlobe repair, because while a doc could be the best at boob jobs he may suck at liposuction. Plastic surgery varies per procedure. So I battled with this for quite some time, and eventually decided that I needed to see someone who had done this before. I found a doctor in San Diego who was one of like 5 plastic surgeons who had "earlobe repair" listed on their website. I must have looked up every doctor before I picked one. He was the first I went to visit and when I got there his assistant pulled out a stack of printed photographs with this exact procedure, from specifically stretched ears (earlobe repair surgery is often done on older women who's heavy earrings and age stretched their lobes, and is a completely different stitch.) So I fell in love with this guy right away, and made an appointment for the procedure. Fun fact was that he ended up being in the same building as my OBGYN, so I was already quite familiar with the area.
I first visited him at the beginning of December, and his assistant told me he was booked through February. I was disappointed because I hoped to have this done before Roman was born. I mean, I didn't want to deal with the recovery while I had a newborn, and I was told that I didn't need pain killers or anything during recovery (we'll come back to that concept later.) I made an appointment for March, because I figured later would be easier. Then as I was walking out the surgeon's assistant shouted for me...saying that a cancelation had just come through on their online calendar. It was for a week from that day. I didn't have time to think about it, so I booked it. One week later I was back at the office.
Now, for those of you who are visually creative and cringe easily, stop reading.
When I arrived at the doctor's I was nervous but not freaked. I was casually posting instagram and snapchat stories, and more than anything I was really excited. Mind you, I was 8 months pregnant, so I was unable to take the mild sedative that my doctor said he often provides for patients. I was brought into a locker-room and given a hospital gown and hair net to change into. I got to keep my jeans on but had to remove my shoes and shirt, so again, still wasn't feeling anything uncomfortable. Then the nurse walked me back down the hall, where I saw that this office was exceptionally larger than I had first realized, It seemed to take up a good portion of the floor. I turned the corner and was brought into an operating room. Like a flood, I became overwhelmed with anxiety. I don't know what I was thinking, that he would stitch me up real quick in his office, but the fact that I was in a full blown operating room like you see on TV (I have only had one previous surgery and I don't remember this part so that's what I had as a reference) scared the living hell out of me. Everything became so real. I was scared. Like really scared. But obviously I had to play it cool. They helped me get comfortable while laying on the table, and one of the nurses made a "this is gonna be nothing compared to birth" joke.
The doctor came in and they took some photos, and prepped my ears by giving me a series of injections of local anesthesia to my earlobe. The first one stung like a b. I don't know how many on each side I received, because that shit works almost instantaneously. I barely felt the needle go in the second time. Then the doctor gave me a warning, he was about to start and, much to my horror, the first thing I was going to hear was the click of scissors coming together. I'm going to say it right now, I have yet to experience anything so unsettling. It was like the sound of getting your hair cut, but you are aware that your hair is in fact your numbed flesh. The remaining 20 or so minutes was all scraping sounds and little cuts. I felt a lot of pressure and tugging, and at one point I almost asked him to stop because I thought I would throw up. Now, he had told me a not-so-detailed version of the process, but I was not ready for this. He first split my lobes and cut the bottom half off (hence the scissors snipping at the beginning.) Then, from what I understand, he razored the inside of the hole because it was covered in scar tissue, and it needed to be able to reattach to itself by way of a fresh wound. Then it was cosmetic nip tuck stitch. It took about 20-30 minutes on each side, and it wasn't until halfway through my second ear that I finally collected myself.
Once he was done, he handed me a mirror, and I burst into tears. I had MY EARS back. They were perfect, delicate and mine again. He warned me that I may not have detached earlobes anymore like I did naturally, but they were still more detached than I expected them to come out, so they really did look like my pre-teenage angst ears.
One of the nurses took immediate pre and post surgery photos of my ears in the operating room.