How to Repair Ear Gauges

If your stretched earlobe has torn, your piercing may shrink. Repairing a tear in your earlobe is relatively straightforward if you still want to wear large-gauge earrings. Simply follow the same aftercare instructions as you would for a new piercing, and while you may lose a gauge size or two, you can stretch back fairly quickly. Holes under a 2 gauge may shrink back to a 14 gauge or smaller, but those over a 2 gauge require plastic surgery to close completely.

A woman with a large gauge ear piercing leans in the door of her car. (Image: Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Getty Images)

Step 1

Wash your hands and earlobes with antimicrobial soap and dry with a clean paper towel.

Step 2

Remove the jewelry from your piercing. If you want to keep the hole open, insert smaller jewelry that your ear can accommodate comfortably. New jewelry should be autoclaved if coming into contact with an open tear.

Step 3

Soak your earlobes for 15 minutes twice daily in a sea salt water solution to support the body's natural healing process. Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon noniodized sea salt in 1 cup warm water. Pour into a small disposable cup, and hold it up to your earlobe.

Step 4

Change your pillowcases. Bed linens can harbor bacteria from a torn piercing, so continue to change pillowcases daily until the tear has healed.

Step 5

Consult a plastic surgeon for severe tears or earlobes stretched past a 2 gauge that you want to close completely. Reconstructive surgery involves cutting away part of the stretched earlobe and stitching it back together.

Things You'll Need

  • Antimicrobial soap

  • Noniodized sea salt

  • Disposable cups


Most piercers are happy to autoclave jewelry free of charge if you purchase it in their shops. They may autoclave jewelry purchased somewhere else for a small fee.

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