Ear stapling is the practice of inserting a thin surgical staple to continuously stimulate specific acupuncture points in the cartilage of the outer middle ear. While the main fad centers around the ever-popular notion of "effortless" weight loss by appetite suppression, the technique is also used for migraine, insomnia, stress and smoking cessation, and just about anything else you care to name.
The Mayo Clinic cautions that ear stapling for weight loss is unlikely to work, and poses a serious risk of infection.
The concept of stimulating pressure points around the ear by stapling is loosely derived from acupuncture in the form of auriculotherapy or auricular acupuncture. These therapies operate on the basis that the ear can be used to map the body in microcosm, much as reflexology uses the foot.
Acupuncture theory maintains that the body will adjust to a piercing of this nature and cease to have benefits, so it is not uncommon for people to have the staples removed and replaced at intervals in a slightly different location.
Safety and regulation
The practice of ear stapling, regardless of its merits or lack thereof, presents an obvious danger of infection if not performed to scrupulous standards of hygiene and aftercare. Serious infections have resulted from "back-alley" ear stapling. In many regions the practice remains unregulated, and typical venues for the procedure include full-service hair salons and day spas.