General Information for Stretching Piercings
To enact the process of enlarging a piercing is to undergo not just physical transformation but also a psychological one. This process requires on the part of the piercee foresight, patience, respect, commitment and solid information. All too often we see enlarged piercings created by “well intentioned” piercers and piercees using poor techniques that cause more harm than good. Inappropriate techniques often result in heavily scarred, poorly placed and extremely unhealthy piercings that will not yield the wearer positive results. Our goal is to provide you with a method and understanding of stretching that is safe and effective. This method has been used in some form for hundreds, quite possibly thousands, of years by many aboriginal peoples the world over.
Clarification of Terminology
- Enlarging a piercing is properly and correctly called stretching. It is not called “gauging”, as some have come to refer to it. A gauge is either of two things: it can be a device used for measuring (ie. A fuel gauge in a car) or it can also be a unit of measurement, such as that used for body jewelry in North America (ie. 14 gauge, 12 gauge, and so on).
- The jewelry commonly worn in stretched ear lobe piercings are properly referred to as plugs or eyelets. As you might guess, they are not called “gauges” either.
Do Not Create a Problem By…
- Probably the biggest issue we see on a regular basis is the misguided assumption that forcing a taper through a piercing will achieve a healthy result. Tapers have their place in the piercing studio but were not intended for this purpose. Using a taper to “stretch” a piercing can cause tearing, blowouts, excessive scarring, ulcerations and thin spots – ultimately, the result is a piercing that is aesthetically unpleasing and in some cases functionless.
Using Heavy Weights.
- Large gauge rings, padlocks, etc. should not be worn for the purpose of stretching as they can cause tearing, thin spots, hole disfigurement and weakened tissue. Heavier jewelry can be used to aid in the stretching process but should be used with the understanding and awareness of the aforementioned risks and used in moderation.
- It is never appropriate to stretch a piercing two or more sizes in a week, or even a month. The tissues need time to rebuild and add new cell growth, to strengthen and stabilize. Generally, it is considered wise to wait at least one month between stretches. Although every person and every piercing is different and may require different time frames, some piercings may need even more time than this.
- Placement of your piercing is crucial. Please ensure that your lobe piercings are properly located in the true centre of your lobe. The piercings should not be off-center or too low within the lobe as this will affect how much it can be safely stretched or lead to thin spots. If you are unsure, please consult with your piercer.
- For the purpose of simplicity, we will only be discussing the stretching of ear lobe piercings already at a 10 gauge or larger (bearing in mind that this information can be allied to many other piercings). If your piercing is smaller than a 10 gauge, we recommend that you use increasingly thicker rings as per the gauge chart, combined with good hygiene until you achieve 10 gauge.
*Please note: stretching should never involve pain, burning sensations, blood or trauma. If you are experiencing any of these you are going to fast. Slow down!
- Without question, the safest and most effective way to stretch earlobe piercings is the wrapping method. All that is required from you is that you already be wearing plugs or eyelets, and that you purchase a roll of teflon tape (also as plumbers tape). This tape is bio-compatible (providing you do not have an allergy), self-adhering and found either in our studio or at most hardware stores. The idea behind wrapping is that by adding layers of tape to your existing jewelry, you are slowly enlarging the jewelry circumference and your thus allowing your piercings to slowly stretch and enlarge. Adding one or two layers of tape per week is generally acceptable, but should you find that re-inserting the jewelry is too difficult or uncomfortable – remove the tape and wait another week to try again. Over time, you can stretch your lobes to quite large sizes using this very simple method. But please remember to utilize patience, common sense and care.
Stretched Piercing Hygiene
- Even though your piercings may have been healed for some time, they still require daily care – especially if you are stretching them. We recommend that you wash them once a day with an unscented liquid soap (we prefer all-natural and organic). This includes washing both your piercings and jewelry (although you should not always wash natural jewelry, such as wood, with soap and water). Once everything has dried, massage one of the recommended oils into your lobes for a few minutes. Massage is essential – as it increases circulation in the ear tissue and helps repair thin spots, as well as reduces the risk of tissue atrophy. After massaging, re-insert your jewelry and then wipe away excess oil. Do not forget to oil your piercings, dry piercings often end up tearing and can also be quite uncomfortable.
(All listed products are 100% vegan unless otherwise noted)
- Dr. Bronner’s
- Extra virgin olive oil – can reduce scare tissue and inflammation
- Jojoba oil- this is actually a melted type of vegetable wax, derived from the seeds of the jojoba plant. Perfect for sensitive skin and is an excellent moisturizer and skin conditioner. It is anti-bacterial, anti inflammatory, non toxic and rich in vitamin e.
- Holy Butt’r- contains a natural blend of emollients and moisturizers including karanja oil, jojoba oil, and soy butter.
- History is our teacher, and while the implements may have changed, the methods described here are effective. We hope this information proves to be helpful to you on your journey. Should you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us or come by the studio.
** The preceding information is based on our many years of experience in the body piercing industry and should not be taken as medical advice as we are not physicians or in any way affiliated with the medical industry.