You will have seen them even if you have never been tempted to have one yourself, the tube-shaped ‘earrings’ designed to create a visible hole in the wearer’s ears.
These flesh tunnels, as they are known, have long been popular within certain sectors of the fashion set in the UK, from indie kids to boy band members, not to mention those who have simply wanted to demonstrate their ability to shock by having a piece of striking jewellery inserted into their ear.
It seems, however, that some are now regretting their decisions and people who have spent years with these tubes in their ears are looking for ways to restore their lobes to how they looked before.
Popular In The UK
Plastic surgeons across the UK are reporting that operations to repair the damage caused by these ‘piercings’ and to aesthetically improve the appearance of the ear once the jewellery has been removed are now among the fastest growing forms of cosmetic surgery taking place in the country today.
The holes themselves are created by inserting a taper in the shape of a cone into a piercing. This is then pushed through a little more on a daily basis or bigger tunnels can be put into a piercing every couple of weeks to cause the gap to slowly widen. The fact is, however, that once the holes created become 1.5cm in diameter or more, the earlobe is unable to repair itself naturally and only surgery will be able to restore it to its pre-tunnel form and shape.
Is It A Mistake?
As with many trends popular with younger members of society, people are choosing to have these tunnels created only to feel after that they have made a mistake. Those who have these ear holes have reported adverse reactions from potential employers, for example and are now seeking ways to restore their lobes to their natural look. There have been examples of golfers refused entry into clubs and associations because of their ears and those entering responsible professions, such as teaching, where flesh tunnels are not seen as appropriate but, unlike with tattoos that can be easy to hide, these holes can be difficult to disguise, leaving surgery as the only solution.
The good news is that these holes can generally be repaired in less than an hour under a local anaesthetic. The stretched area can be taken away and the lobe can be internally stitched back together, leaving a considerably less noticeable indentation on the ear.
These flesh tunnels are far from new, although their popularity in Western cultures has increased significantly in recent years. This type of body modification has been going on in other parts of the world for centuries, such as among the people of the New Kingdom of ancient Egypt, Mexico’s Totonac people and Pakistan’s Harappa population.
Currently, the word record for the biggest flesh tunnel is held by Kala Kaiwi, a man from Hawaii, who has one with a diameter bigger than 10cm – large enough to fit a human fist through.
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