A body modification trend popular several years ago with teens and young adults is now putting a strain on the wallets of those looking to reverse it.
Gauging is when the earlobe is stretched — sometimes to huge proportions — to fit large pieces of jewellery.
But the trend seems to have fallen out of fashion, leaving many 20-somethings with big holes in both their ears and their pockets.
"I was 16, one of my friends got it and I thought it was really cool," said 24-year-old Zach Sigouin. "I find it unsightly now. I just lost complete interest in them and there's nothing I can do about it. I can't hide them."
Reconstructive surgery needed
Sigouin is one of many young people now seeking reconstructive surgery to undo gauging.
But only a few plastic surgeons specialize in earlobe reconstruction, a procedure that usually costs hundreds of dollars.
"The gaugers, they can look quite pretty," said Calgary cosmetic surgeon Dr. Kristina Zakhary.
"If you go into a field that requires a more conservative look then it might not fit your vocation."
The procedure is usually performed on an in-office basis. It takes only a few hours and uses local anaesthetic.
Sigouin said he's prepared to spend the money to restore his self-confidence.
"I think it's going to make a huge difference in my life and the way I feel," he said.