Is it because they’re aging? A return to sanity? Or just a practical move because they’re looking for employment?
Whatever the reason, it’s a welcome change.
John Petrick reports for NorthJersey.com, Dec. 19, 2016, that according to a 2012 Pew Research study and other research, an estimated 36% of Americans have at least one piercing somewhere other than an earlobe. For millennials — those between 17 and 25 — the figure is as high as 56%.
Plastic surgeons say they are noticing more and more millennials coming in for reconstructive surgery because their ears have become deformed from overpiercing. But it’s not just ear piercing. Many millennials are reversing tattoos, tongue piercing and the bone through the nose, to conform with the real world of job interviews and the board room.
Dr. Laurence Milgrim, a board-certified facial plastic surgeon in Teaneck, NJ, says:
“There has been an influx of people, millennials in particular, who have a lot of body piercings — mainly facial piercings — that they are looking to change. These are large earring holes, larger than the usual stud hole. When the earlobe and other parts of their bodies are expanded, they have trouble in the classic work force. Nose piercings, ear piercings … and tattoo removal, especially on the neck, where it’s noticeable, has become popular.”
Dr. Harris Sterman, chief of plastic surgery at Holy Name Medical Center, says that “Some people get really carried away” stretching their ears with multiple holes and hanging many large and heavy objects hung from all those holes so that the poor ear is literally stretched to its outermost limits. Years of wearing even one set of earrings can eventually lead to a tearing of the earlobes in any age group, but “When you have multiple earrings and they are close together, the holes can weaken the tissue faster and the holes merge together.”
The popularity of “gauge earrings” or earplugs among millennials are especially disfiguring in the long-run because, Sterman explains, “They make an opening, and they put in a disk. So when you take it out, your earlobes almost look like strings of spaghetti, all stretched out. If you take it out, you have this kind of loop.”
Sterman says, “I had a guy who wanted to join the military, and because he had this gauge deformity, he felt he had to get it fixed. You are allowed certain tattoos, but things are still very strict. He had this huge loop for an earlobe.”
In most cases, the ravaged earlobe, the mutilated upper-ear cartilage, the messed-up tongue piercing and even the most elaborate tattoo can be removed or fixed in one or more visits.
Dr. Daniel Maman, a board-certified plastic surgeon at 740 Park Plastic Surgery in Manhattan, says: “As plastic surgeons, we do fix them, and we can do a very nice job. I have had people with massively stretched-out ear lobes and now, you would not even be able to tell. It depends. But I have fixed some severe deformities under a local anesthesia and here in the office.”
Maman said the damage can be more serious when people pierce the upper ear, which can lead to chondritis, an infection in the cartilage:
“Once you go above the earlobe, you are penetrating the cartilage. You make a permanent hole. Cartilage does not grow back or regenerate. Have you ever seen the wrestler with the cauliflower ears? The result would be the same. There is plastic surgery for it, and we can fix it to the best of our ability. But the more severe the damage, the less you can fix it.”
Eugene Gentile, director of the Undergraduate Career Management Office at Rutgers Business School in New Brunswick who teaches classes and seminars on how to present yourself in interviews and in the business world, has this advice for millennials and anyone looking for a job:
“We tell people take your nose ring out. But then you’re looking at that great big hole. One thing I teach is when you’re on an interview, you want a person focusing on your eyes and your mouth. Not to be distracted by whatever adornment you have on your body. A lot of things that are great for the club are not great for the interview. One of the things we teach is wear a very conservative suit. And I get push-back on that. ‘Do you want us all to look the same? You told us to differentiate ourselves.’ It sounds contradictory, but I want a dark suit and a light shirt or blouse so that people are looking at your face and listening to what you say. The tattoo doesn’t help. It is incredibly distracting.”
How doctors reverse stretched earlobes, piercings and tattoos:
- Milgrim says: “We reconstruct the earlobe with tissue surrounding it, or from other areas. Holes are filled in and excess stretched skin is removed.”
- Sterman has a slightly different method, the lap-joint technique of “creating right angle turns in the scar, so this way when it heals, it doesn’t cause notching. It ends up taking an extra 10 to 15 minutes. Some insurance covers it. The earlobe ends up having a beautiful curvature to it.”
- As for tattoos, Milgrim says “removals over the years have gotten so much better. We have better lasers, and today, the removal is not as noticeable as it used to be. The tattoos are removed over multiple sessions. ome of the colors can be very hard to get out because of the depth of the color. Reds are the hardest.”.
- Sterman: “I had a young woman who came in who had this bizarre tattoo on her shoulder blade, who grew up, got a real job in the corporate world, and had to go to corporate events. She ended up getting laser treatments to have it removed.With tattoos, each color almost needs a different laser. In order to treat this, you need very expensive equipment. It’s multiple treatments. And it can be expensive, too.”
Milgrim says ear reconstruction generally costs between $1,000 and $2,000, while tattoo removal is anywhere from $500 to $1,500.
Here’s what one millennial does with the hole from ear plugs. Is this or is this not demonic possession?