Shelby Christensen is preparing to serve in the U.S. Army.

"I'm going to be going into explosive ordinance disposal. I'll be helping finding IEDs and dispose of them for our troops in Afghanistan." However, there is something preventing him from heading to basic training right at this moment. "I am extremely nervous. I have a phobia of surgeries, but I figure I have to get it done, so here I am."

Nearly a decade ago, Shelby did what a lot of teenagers do. "My friends were doing it and I was like,'I want to be part of the cool crowd,' so I started doing it, too."

He started stretching the holes in his earlobes. "Yeah, it hurt quite a bit. I did it very unhealthily. I jumped from a normal piercing which is a 16 gauge to a four which is skipping six or seven sizes right there.” 

Little did he know then, his holes – which are about an inch in size - would prevent him from joining the Army. So he booked an appointment at Sierra Nevada Cosmetic and Laser Surgery where Dr. Kyle Yamamoto, who specializes in facial plastic surgery, marked him up to close the holes. Dr. Yamamoto has closed a number of stretched ears after military recruiters reached out. "They changed their rules a few years ago, so if anybody has anything bigger than a pinhole, like a regular piercing, then they have to be repaired."

He starts off numbing both sides. "I feel like everybody is a little more sensitive on the left," he says as he’s injecting local anesthesia.  Smaller gauge hole procedures could take 20-minutes per ear, but Shelby’s will be closer to an hour per side.

"The entire earlobe has to be reconstructed, so we're removing skin, we have to move some skin around and sew it up in certain ways to make it look as good as possible." Detail is extremely important when recreating an earlobe. “A lot of people want them fixed and not many surgeons are doing them, so it's nice to offer that." Once he closes the hole, sutures and sticky tape are put in place and must remain for about a week.

Other than a little sensitivity as the earlobe heals, there are no other major side effects. A week later, Shelby returns for a follow-up and couldn’t be happier with the results. 

Does he miss the holes? “It's no biggie; it's just a piece of skin. This is my future we're talking about and I'd much rather worry about that."

To learn more about the procedure or Sierra Nevada Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, click on