PHOENIX (KSAZ) - It's a sight that no one can say is uncommon: people with big gauge or plug earrings, along with other forms of facial alteration.
"It's kind of addicting," said Jorge Vasquez. The 20-year-old began the stretching process for the ear lobes five years ago. "You are addicted to the pain in a strange way."
A lot of time and money went into Jorge's look, and he says he still loves it.
"I don't really care what people say about it," said Vasquez. "It's myself. It doesn't affect anybody."
For other millennials, however, they are learning that these unique piercings and alterations could make them stand out more.
"I never realized they wouldn't close until someone told me, 'you know those aren't going to close right?'" said Jacob Smook.
Many millennials have reportedly encountered problems associated with their piercings in the job market.
"I had a lot of jobs that required I have my ears sewn up," said Smook. "I have friends who have really big size gauges, and they have trouble finding jobs. People don't really want to be looking at giant holes in your years when they are about to eat food."
That has caused a boom in business for some plastic surgeons. Dr. Karl Hiatt is a plastic surgeon in Mesa, and has fixed a lot of earlobes.
"A good percentage of them are going into the military," said Dr. Hiatt. "Another percentage of them, they want to get a job, and they feel like they can't get them with earrings, or even the holes the way they are."
For about $1,000 to $1,500, patients walk out in about an hour, with very little pain, a few stitches, and normal earlobes.
"I think it took maybe about two weeks total, and that's when I saw the scabs were gone," said Smook, who went to see Dr. Hiatt. With Smook's earlobes closed, he saw job opportunities open, including customer jobs and banking.
Numbers show there are more surgeries across the country to fix piercings and tattoos. While many people, like Smook, are getting the surgery needed, some are not ready for that yet.
Some may never will be ready.
"Surprisingly, a lot of places are becoming more lenient," said Vasquez. "You can just take them out if you want to, or put it in the color of your skin."
Vasquez said his earlobes have not held him back too much, and if his plans pan out, it's probably a moot issue.
"Eventually I want to be an entrepreneur, start my own business," said Vasquez. "I'm only 20, so I have a lot of time to decide what I want to do in life."