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Lobe Scalpelling to Correct Placement

A little over a month ago, my ears were scalpelled from the 9mm range to 11mm by John Kid of The Piercing Lounge in Madison, WI.

I had been stretching my ears for almost four years at that point, largely without the help of professional piercers (hey kids at home, remember that nine times out of ten, it's better to stretch your own ears!). I had been at my original goal size of 00g (wearing mostly 9-9.5mm plugs) for about two years, but eventually I decided to bite the bullet and move up to 1/2" for two reasons:

  1. My earlobes are huge. Seriously. Huge.
  2. The jewelry selection at 1/2" is much improved from that at 00g, and the same plugs look better and the designs clearer at 1/2" than at 00g.

A couple of times during 00g's reign in my ears, I had tried and failed to go up to 1/2", but chickened out each time, not wanting to let go of my 00g jewelry collection and having some misgivings about how the larger size might alter the shape of my ears. However, this time, determined to follow through, I sold my whole 00g collection (sob), which I figured might be an excellent motivator. Around this time, I also realized that I wanted to slightly correct the placement of the holes, since the original piercing was done when I was six years old at the fine and reputable (note sarcasm) establishment known as the Piercing Pagoda. The holes were too close to my head, and also slightly low, especially in my right ear.

So I went to talk to John, the resident piercer at Madison's The Piercing Lounge (the sister shop of Blue Lotus Tattoo). He said he couldn't see a huge problem with the placement, but agreed it could be improved slightly. He also agreed with Lish D.'s famous rationale for not cutting to goal size, so we decided on 7/16" (11mm). Since SF 7/16" plugs were already basically fitting in my ears (having been at 00g for so long), he asked me to downsize just a bit before we scalpelled so that he had something to cut. I took my 00g plugs out right then and there, and left them out for two weeks. It wasn't fun to go naked for that long, but in the end my ears did downsize pretty significantly, and at the end of the two weeks I was unable to put double-flared 9mm plugs in my ears.

When I arrived at the studio on the day I was to be scalpelled, I was slightly nervous but not freaking out or anything. John is an extremely experienced piercer with an excellent bedside manner, and I knew I was in good hands. He explained to me that he would put an 7/16" taper in my ears, and how far it would go in without resistance would determine the method of scalpelling that he would use. He was able to get it more than halfway in without meeting any resistance, so he explained to me that in order to scalpel, he would reinsert the taper until it wouldn't go any more, and then would cut a line on the back of my lobe where the skin had been stretched by the taper. He would cut enough so that the taper fit comfortably through and then followed it with a Pyrex eyelet. And this is exactly what he did on both ears. Interestingly, it didn't bleed at all. Not one bit in either ear. I was pretty surprised by that.

As for the pain, honestly it wasn't awful. The taper going through was more painful than the scalpel, which I could barely feel but was still a really odd sensation. I could hear the nose the scalpel made, too: kind of like a "zip! zip! zip!" But I'd rather do that over again any day of the week than have my back tattooed for six hours again, or have my (now-retired) anti-tragus pierced again (yeeowch). And as for the original goal of scalpelling, the correction of the placement wasn't extreme -- nor did I expect it to be -- but it was certainly noticeable to me, and at that point I felt quite a bit better about moving up to my ultimate-ultimate 1/2" goal size.

Healing the scalpelled lobes was much easier than I'd anticipated. Friends of mine with scalpelled lobes told me that theirs had taken months to heal, but, perhaps owing to the relatively insignificant nature of the cut, mine seemed to take only weeks. They never actually bled at all -- they were just a little crusty during the healing process. I healed them with the 7/16" Pyrex eyelets in, but quickly found that the front flares were slipping backwards through my ears (this was within 10 days of the scalpelling). I replaced them with Pyrex colorfronts, which slipped out after a matter of three or four days! This wasn't surprising to me, though, as I've heard many people speak of how quickly their ears self-stretched after the scalpel experience (read more about this in the aforementioned discussion of scalpelling). Within three weeks of the procedure, I was wearing single-flared 1/2" Gorilla Glass bulletholes. And within six weeks, I would say my ears were complete ly healed.

All in all, I would call this an extremely positive experience. John was knowledgeable and professional throughout. The healing process was smooth and relatively painless. To others looking to scalpel their ears, assuming you're doing it for the right reasons, my only advice is to seek out a practitioner who is experienced and knowledgeable in these matters -- this makes all the difference in the world!

And now for a picture: my left ear, just seconds post-scalpel. Check out how swollen it is, but note the lack of blood!


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 14 Dec. 2009
in Ear Piercing

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Artist: John+Kid
Studio: The+Piercing+Lounge
Location: Madison%2C+WI

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