Regretful 20-somethings look to undo extreme piercings of youth

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 involves stretching the ear lobe and requires reconstructive surgery to reverse

An earlobe before and after it was surgically repaired. (Dr. Kristina Zakhary Clinic)

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.