So this is what happens when you go to your local Sao Paulo cutter and ask him for an ear pointing and he doesn’t notice that you’re standing on your head, right? Gawd, I feel like this picture is a caption joke goldmine and I’m letting you down by only writing one. Anyway, what you’re looking at is an earlobe repair/reconstruction, where the first artist built it all pointy-like. The resultant upside-down elf was not too happy with that, so they went down the street to see Rafael Leão Dias at Dhar Shan Body Art in Jundai, who repaired it for them. It still looks a little wonky in the second picture, but it’s likely that the curve of the lobe will smooth slightly as it heals (and it’s certainly not going to be giving boners to gelflings with vertigo any more).
Those with very long memories may recognize the ear in this photo, because it was featured on ModBlog in the 2008 interview with Howie/LunaCobra (click here to see it then). Initially the customer wanted one of the most radical conch removals, creating a hole that encompassed not just the inner conch (primarily the cymba, the upper half), but the outer (a good chunk of the triangular fossa and the anterior crus of the antihelix or “rook ridge”) as well. Howie expertly accomplished this, and it healed nicely and the customer seemed happy with it for years. But as with many procedures — as you’ve seen with the deluge of tattoo removals and lobe stretching reversals — tastes change, and the customer decided to have the procedure partially reversed to build a more normal (and more structurally stable) ear.
As regular readers know, when it comes to body modification reversals, there are few people more capable than Samppa von Cyborg (voncyb.org). I’ve seen conch closures in the past (here’s one by Quentin), but this is definitely the biggest to date, and anything bigger might not be possible. I’d say this ear is at the edges of what can safely by rebuilt short of growing new tissue (possible, but out of the reach of the bodmod community for now), and Samppa has very successfully put it back together. Reversing some procedures isn’t too hard — lobe stretching reversals tend to be universally successful — but when you start talking about procedures built around amputating tissue, it gets harder and harder. I hope that modified people, especially young people, take a very hard look at the fact that more and more and more procedures are starting to be reversed, and spend more time considering whether they really want to jump into procedures that are difficult to reverse — as I’ve commented before, the potential permanence is one of my big worries about eyeball tattoos.
Yesterday I mused a little about ideas about new kinds of ear anatomy that could be created due to the “durability” of the tissue… Over and over we’ve seen earlobes get cut up into the most abusive and mangled jigsaw puzzles and then stitched back together, healing up quickly and without complication, showing just how resilient the tissue.
I was happy to be reminded that Nic Theo, based in Cape Town, South Africa, not only had the same idea, but acted on it ten years ago. With the help of his doctor, the disconnected loop of his earlobe was relocated down his neck. An easy procedure all things considered, a couple small cuts were made on his neck at the new attachment site and the lobe was stitched in place, “and bob’s your uncle”. Here are some healed pictures of it, and it’s still doing just fine a decade later.
Edit/Update: Nic wanted me to add that the only issue that he has with this is that it feels quite fragile to him. While the ear is solidly attached to the neck, it’s not robust enough to handle stretching. I suspect this is something that could be addressed with refinements in the way the attachment is created, for starters, making it as large as possible by perhaps cutting the “earworm” at an angle, rather than perpendicular. We shall hopefully see, as others explore the technique.
Here are some fresh post-procedure photos of it, right after it was stitched in place. Click to zoom in to most of these photos for a better look of course.
Nic’s version is quite subtle on some levels because his earlobes weren’t dramatically stretched — it’s one of those fun body modifications that is over-the-top radical on one hand, but subtle enough that many people might not even notice on the other. But imagine what could be done with a person that has three inch lobes — the inch lobes give you an almost ten inch long fleshworm to play with! I really think this class of procedure has the potential to open all sorts of new realms of creative morphological expression, and while I always have some concern when piercers start blurring the legal “practicing medicine without a license” definitions, I do think that this is well within the ability of any piercer that’s capable of successfully doing procedures like earlobe reconstructions.
And finally, let me wrap up with a few more recent pictures of Nic Theo — as you can see, the more time that’s passed, the more natural the lobe looks (in the first pictures in this entry I think the “seam” between the lobe and the neck is more obvious because of its freshness).
P.S. The other “new idea” procedure that I recently posted, a method for creating new nipples, was also from South Africa… Keep ‘em coming!
I was checking out this gorgeous lobe scalpelling by Gabriele at Max Art in Italy — he’s taken a 30mm lobe and cut it up to 50mm, changing its shape quite a bit in the process — and it got me thinking again about a procedure that I’d really love to see someone do. The first three photos below are real, and show the level of abuse an ear can take and still heal beautifully — that third image was taken only a month later.
Anyway, as you know I am big on anything that fucks with natural morphology, so what I’m suggesting is taking the earlobe loop and cutting it where it connects to the head, and then relocating that attachment point farther down the neck, as far as it can be moved and still be comfortable — which is what the fourth picture illustrates with a quickie Photoshopping. I think it someone can show that this works in reality (and I’m quite certain it’s plausible), all sorts of fascinating things could be done. There are still more Pandora’s Boxes to be opened — I’ve been giving some thought to the “what’s next in body modification” and I think that in addition to live electronics being on the cusp of exploding, I think there are a lot of body artists who are technically proficient enough at this point to start getting much more adventurous in the type of body sculpting they offer.
My old friend Quentin at Kalima (kalima.co.uk) is one of those body modification masters that’s been at it since caveman days, but doesn’t seek out media attention so he flies under most people’s radar. Anyway, he posted this beautifully done ear reconstruction that included the reversal of a large inner conch hole, and the first comment practically had me on the floor laughing — “Was tissue removed from the lobe to repair the conch?”
The picture is misleading because Quentin did the lobe closure and the conch closure at the same time, so both are stitched up. I suppose it’s not a terribly unreasonable assumption if you’re a layperson that doesn’t have much experience with these procedures, but after laughing a bit, I was a little terrified that someone might see this and actually try and do a lobe reversal that way — which would almost certainly result in necrosis (you might as well stick in a piece of hamburger beef for all the good it’ll do). In any case, it’s not a big deal to remove cartilage from the inner conch and then close the skin over the void — in fact, this is quite commonly done by cosmetic surgeons, who often choose the inner conch to harvest cartilage for transplant in rhinoplasty (ie. nose job) procedures!
Click to zoom in and take a close look at how perfectly this turned out.
I am just terrible about telling you about these on time, so go subscribe to his YouTube channel! J.C. Potts has posted the most recent The Modified World (and the new one should come online tomorrow I hope), and you’ll be happy to hear that it’s an interview with long-time IAM/BME member Tye Olsen, talking about his “surgically modified pointed elf ears”. Another great show.
Martin sent me this video of the autocannibalism fun they got up to at GELOCHT UND SCHARF GESTOCHEN (gelocht.com) in Neuss, Germany (across the Rhine from Düsseldorf). Before I start making obvious jokes about Germans and cannibalism, can I just say this is the best studio name ever? It’s one of those wonderful phrases that doesn’t translate cleanly into English but roughly it’s “holes made and sharply stuck”. Perhaps you have to speak both languages but to me it’s both hilarious and somehow poetic.
Martin to we’re watching here is the closure of 68 mm (2 5/8″) lobes, which looks like it was very well done, but is completely outshined by the apparently Aghori-inspired autocannibalism ritual in which the soft jiggly but very chewy ear leftovers are consumed. You’d be surprised how common this is (for atheists as well as for those with spiritual justification) in tissue removal procedures and skin removal scarification. I will try and update this entry in a day or two with some more information, so check back if you’re interested.
Click the thumbnails to see them bigger, or click here for the video.
Since I seem to be in the mood for posting stuff about ears being chopped up today, let me share another. My friend Gabriele from Max Art Body Piercing in Rome had a client come in that had a large open lobe that had been previously scalpeled (Ludovico’s ears were 2″ last time I remember them) — as you can tell from the distinctive shape, a “U”-loop of flesh hanging down from the ear — and also had a keloid covering a solid area of it’s upper-outside edge that the client wanted excised, complicating the procedure. To make the procedure even more tricky, they wanted to keep the piercing, but alter its shape and reduce its size. To accomplish all of this, Gabriele cut out the body of the keloid and closed the wound, as well as removing part of the lobe “worm” to tighten the ear to the new size. The jewelry used for the healing is glass with silicone o-rings. Glass is an ideal material, but for some people the o-rings can cause irritation (and must be kept clean to avoid a build up of waste — and becoming a home for bacteria), so the client will have to keep an eye on that. The bruising in the third photo went away quickly, the tissue relaxed, and healing is going well so far.
Gabriele at Max Art in Italy (who you know best for the SkinTunnel project) recently performed a rather tricky ear reconstruction. The surgery involved both bridging two piercings into one, as well as repairing the damage from a piercing that tore out some time earlier. Once it’s healed, the client will be able to put in a new tunnel and no one will be the wiser — and hopefully they will have learned a valuable lesson about responsible stretching! Or getting in fights — I don’t actually know how the damage occurred.