I'm considering having my ears stapled to help me lose weight. Does this work?
Answer From Brent A. Bauer, M.D.
Ear stapling for weight loss isn't likely to work — and it poses a serious risk of infection.
Ear stapling is based loosely on the principles of acupuncture, which involves stimulating certain points with fine needles. With acupuncture of the ear, the needles are typically left in place for only a short time.
Proponents of ear stapling claim that the staples stimulate a pressure point that controls appetite, leading to weight loss. Small surgical staples are placed into the inner cartilage of each ear. The staples can be left in place for several weeks or even months.
Although some studies suggest that acupuncture can reduce appetite, ear stapling hasn't been proved effective for weight loss. And the largely unregulated practice of ear stapling can be dangerous if done in unsanitary conditions or by an untrained practitioner. In fact, puncturing ear cartilage poses a risk of serious infection and permanent disfigurement.
If you're overweight, don't depend on ear stapling for weight loss. Instead, discuss proven weight-loss strategies with your doctor.
Aug. 22, 2020
See more Expert Answers
- Auriculotherapy. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed July 16, 2018.
- Zhang R-Q, et al. Acupuncture for the treatment of obesity in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Postgraduate Medical Journal. 2017;93:743.
- Yasemin C, et al. The effects of auricular and body acupuncture in Turkish obese female patients: A randomized controlled trial indicated both methods lost body weight but auricular acupuncture was better than body acupuncture. Acupuncture and Electro-Therapeutics Research. 2017;42:1.
- Yeh TL, et al. The effect of auricular acupoint stimulation in overweight and obese adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2017;2017:3080547.
- Tan J-Y, et al. Adverse events of auricular therapy: A systematic review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014;2014:506758.
- Acupressure. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed July 16, 2018.
- Winter LK, et al. Ear stapling: A risky and unproven procedure for appetite suppression and weight loss. Ear Nose and Throat Journal. 2010;89:e20.