Stretching piercings is something humans have been fascinated by for many reasons since ancient times. Whether it’s cultural, testing the limits of our bodies, or completely aesthetic, this practice has made a comeback in recent years. However, we have noticed that many people do not seem to understand the proper techniques needed to reach the outcome they desire, which has led to many blown out and permanently scarred earlobes (or other body piercings). We have written this instructional outline based on our experience as professional piercers, along with an accumulation of knowledge shared by other professionals.
Stretching should never hurt.
In fact, pain is a signal from the body to the brain that damage has occurred. So, basically, if you feel pain, you’re doing it wrong. The body, though sometimes able to accommodate jewelry of magnificent sizes, has a very particular way of allowing for this to occur.
Stretching should be a very slow process.
Respect your body’s individual pace over your own desire to wear larger jewelry- this will save you from much regret later. Generally, the longer you wait between sizes, the easier stretching will be and the healthier your tissue will be in the long run.
It is imperative that you only attempt to stretch well-healed piercings.
Piercings should not be stretched using taper pins past an 8 gauge. Nor should taper pins ever be worn as jewelry. Weights and heavy jewelry should also not be used for stretching, as this can lead to tissue thinning and distortion of the hole. You should only attempt to stretch a piercing using single or no flare jewelry. The only materials proven safe for use in stretching are implant grade steel or titanium, glass, or certain high density, nonporous stone that can be autoclaved (such as dense jades and obsidian). Do not use cheap metals, organics, wood, silicone, or acrylic.
The healthiest, easiest, most effective way to stretch your piercings is to simply wait until the next size fits. There are ways to help this along. For instance, every day after showering, use a natural oil (such as jojoba, coconut, vitamin e, or olive oil) to massage the piercing channel and surrounding tissue for a few minutes. This will increase the blood flow, which promotes new cell growth. Also, throughout the day, play with your jewelry. For most people, it will take about 6-8 weeks for the next size to easily slide right in. However, it can take up to 3 months for others.
Another way is the Subang method, which the Balinese people have used with great success since prehistory. The modern version of this involves wrapping thin layers of tape around the jewelry until the next size fits. There is no tape that has been labeled as safe for stretching piercings, so keep in mind that using any of the following is going against the manufacturer’s suggestions. However, many people have had success using Teflon, neoprene, and bondage tapes. Electrical tape can be used, but must be changed weekly, as the adhesive can become toxic. Whichever tape you use, be sure to remove it completely from the jewelry every week and clean the jewelry with rubbing alcohol. Proceed with fresh tape. Start with one layer, and then try to insert the jewelry. If it slides in easily, add another. Do this until you feel a very slight tension, but not to the point of pain. This allows the cells to regenerate at a healthy pace. Trying to do too much at once or attempting to stretch too quickly will most likely result in the cells slipping, inefficient nutrient supply, and inevitable scarring. Keep in mind that if you tear your tissue, subsequent stretches will only enlarge that tear and not stretch evenly around the piercing channel. Wait until the jewelry is loose to add more tape. If you aren’t sure if you’re ready, gently pull down on the jewelry- a gap between the jewelry and tissue is a good indicator.
Enlarged piercings do require simple long term maintenance. The tissue can atrophy and thin if care is not taken. At least once daily, clean your jewelry and massage oil into the tissue to stimulate blood flow. If you follow this advice, you should be able to easily stretch your piercings to great lengths. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us.