Written by AJ Goldman - 12 Ounce Studios - www.PiercingsByAJ.com
and Sarah Wooten - Immaculate Piercing - www.ImmaculatePiercing.com
Here is a little guide to help you along while stretching your piercings. The majority of these tips will especially help while stretching earlobes in particular, and the advice or time frames may be different for different piercings. This guide is a collection of suggestions from reputable body piercers, this should not be construed as, or used as a substitution for, medical advice. Things may be different in your circumstance because everyone’s body is different!
First things first is jewelry quality. Stick with implant grade materials such as ASTM F138 steel or ASTM F136 titanium, glass, and also certain stones have proven to be safe to stretch with. Avoid lower quality metals (especially ones sold in common mall chain stores), avoid stretching or even wearing acrylic jewelry, avoid stretching with organics such as woods, and avoid stretching with silicone! All jewelry for initial stretches should be single flared or no flared. DON’T STRETCH WITH DOUBLE FLARED JEWELRY!!
Second thing would be time frame in between stretches because so many people get this part wrong. We generally recommend waiting a minimum of 6-8 weeks in between each stretch although you might find yourself having to wait 3 months or longer. The big thing here is to listen to your body. If you’re noticing pain or any sort of bleeding, you’re stretching too quickly. If this happens, stop, downsize to your previous size and just wait longer.
A common mistake when stretching is the use of tapers. You shouldn’t need tapers to stretch your earlobes so avoid stretching kits, chances are they’re coming with low quality jewelry anyway. Tapers are a tool used by professional body piercers to assist with jewelry insertions. Stretching piercings at home with tapers can often lead to stretching too quickly which will likely cause tearing, excess scar tissue and/or blowouts. Also, keep in mind that tapers are not jewelry. Wearing a taper as a piece of jewelry will cause a lot of pressure on the back and bottom of your lobe and can cause it to thin out.
Another method for stretching would be the “taping” method. This method involves wrapping a thin layer of PTFE or bondage tape around the jewelry every so often to help slowly increase the size of the jewelry and thus, your piercing. In most cases, this can be completely unnecessary and should be avoided. There is no known documentation that states that any type of tape is safe to be worn inside of the body. It should also be noted that using any sort of tape as a method of stretching is going against manufacturer’s instructions.
Some tips along the way include frequent massaging. When your piercing has healed enough after your most recent stretch to the point where you can comfortably remove your jewelry for at least a few minutes at a time, it is greatly beneficial to gently massage the tissue. Holey Butt’r is a great product to use for massaging. Other alternatives would be jojoba oil, coconut oil, etc. Be sure to avoid oils which you may have an allergy to. If you are unsure, consult with your doctor or dermatologist before using any of these products. Massaging works so well because it helps increase blood flow to the area and helps promote new cell growth. Another great tip is to not be afraid to purposely downsize. Although you’re probably eager to get to your goal size, downsizing can be a great option to keep your lobes thick and healthy. Once the piercing is healed, wearing heavier jewelry such as stone or glass plugs can also help the stretching process. However, it should also be noted that wearing heavier hanging jewelry can lead to uneven stretching or thinning of the tissue at the bottom of the lobe.
Overall, the best method for stretching we’ve found is time. The longer you wait in between stretches, the easier it should be and the healthier your piercings will be in the long run. Stretching should be a long and slow process. Enjoy the ride, no need to rush. Each size has its benefits and different types of jewelry selections. If you should have any questions regarding stretching your piercing, feel free to ask in this group or of course you could ask your local reputable body piercer.