The following tips on stretching piercings are specifically aimed at gauging earlobes, where earlobe piercings can be enlarged to very large sizes to incorporate many different types of ear jewelry including awesome flesh tunnels.
Stretching piercings has been popular in many civilizations throughout history, taking many forms from gauging earlobes to stretching labret and septum piercings. In the very early periods of history the materials used were wood, stone, bone, horn, shells, claws and talons, shaped and carved to facilitate stretching piercings.
The oldest known incidence of humans gauging earlobes was discovered in 1991, in a glacier in the Otztal Alps between Italy and Austria, where a 5,300 year-old mummified body was found with tattoos and an earlobe piercing of between 7 mm and 11 mm diameter. Although the method used was known for definite, this may have been carried out by a method known as dead stretching, where progressively larger ear jewelry is forced through the hole that gradually increases in diameter.
In preparation for gauging, make sure that you have a good anti-bacterial soap without perfume. Then you will need a sea salt solution – make it using three tablespoons salt in just enough water to dissolve it, and at least enough to bathe your earlobe in. Never use hydrogen or any other peroxide as antiseptic – the soap and salt solution are enough.
You will also need some warm water to bathe your ear with before each phase of ear stretching, or you could alternative have a warm shower first. This softens the ear and helps prevent tearing of the skin/scar that could lead to bleeding.
Finally, you will need some lubricant: avoid Vaseline or any other mineral oil or petroleum-based lubricant. Most tips on stretching piercings recommend emu oil and jojoba, each of which offers gentle antiseptic and skin conditioning properties while acting as a perfectly adequate lubricant.
When stretching piercings, the two recommended methods are the taper method and the Teflon method. The taper method involves inserting a tapered rod or pin into the piercing, the narrow end being of the same gauge as the piercing, and the broader end one gauge down. The size of the taper is that of the desired gauge of piercing. So if your piercing is 16g, the taper will be a 14g taper, ranging from 16g to 14g. These are equivalent to 1.2 mm to 1.6 mm.
Never use a taper any more than one step down. However, since piercing gauges are always even numbers, one step down is 16g to 14g or 12g to 10g. Also, as the gauge figures drop, the actual diameter increases. So while 16g is 1.2 mm, 10g is 2.4 mm.
There are a number of different types of taper, including a tapered pin on ear jewelry, so you simply insert ear jewelry tapering from your current gauge to the new one. The problem here is that a fully tapered pin will not stretch your ears evenly – the pin has to be of the same diameter all the way through, or your piercing might also be stretched with a taper.
To overcome that, you can use an insertion rod, which is a tapered rod of about 3 inches. After warming your ears with the warm water or shower, and washing them with anti-bacterial soap, apply the lubricant to the taper and slowly work it through. Once it reaches the thicker end, follow it through with ear jewelry of the new size, and you are done. Wipe off excess lubricant and clean the ear with anti-bacterial soap and then some of the salt solution.
An even safer way is to wind a layer of non-adhesive Teflon tape round the pin of your ear jewelry and push it through the lobe. If you can see any space at all when you pull on the ring, then you can safely do this. Wait until the ear has accepted it then do it again, and so on until you have reached the new size, when you can use larger ear jewelry.
If there has been any severe pain or the piercing bleeds, then you must stop immediately and allow the piercing to heal properly before trying again. If you try stretching piercings too soon, before they have fully healed, then you can tear the skin and even have a blowout, both of which will make it difficult to stretch again.
Gauging Earlobes: After-Care
After-care when gauging earlobes is fairly straightforward. It should not be so much a matter of tending after a piercing until it heals, but more keeping it clean, and turning the new sized jewelry now and again. You are waiting until the ear has accepted the new size of hole permanently so that you can perhaps change the hole diameter once more. The stretched skin has to be allowed to thicken and get harder – give about three times longer than your original piercing took to heal. If you want to use a flesh tunnel, then you can continue stretching piercings until the diameter reaches an appreciable size.
Done properly, and following the above tips, stretching piercings is safe and relatively easy to do. Many extend the diameter of their piercings this way, and gauging earlobes is likely the most popular form of pierce stretching carried out at the moment. Take your time – waiting is difficult, but if your ear is not ready for the next stretching it will likely be damaged.