The History, Method, and Warnings of Ear Gauging
Stretched piercings have been around almost as long as piercings themselves. At least one version or another of all modern piercings has existed in earlier times. Stretched earlobes were common thousands of years ago, in Asia especially. The practices of many African and South African tribes today include stretched lips, some of enormous size.
Body piercing has become mainstream in modern society, and with it an interest in stretched piercings has grown as well. It is most common amoung young people and people of many subcultures.
There are many different methods you can choose from to stretch your ears. Some work really well and are a great idea, others, not so much. Please remember that you should always wait at least one month between stretching. You should wait at least 2 months for sizes over 6g. Failure to stick to this could result in your earlobe puckering, being very thin, or even tearing completely apart. It's worth it in the end to be patient. Your ears will look much better, and your lobes will stay intact.
- Tapering: The most common way to stretch ears today. Tapering involves the use of a taper (a rod that is larger at one end, specifically made for this purpose). It is lubricated and pushed though the hole until the larger end is flush with the earlobe. Larger jewelry is then pushed though, parallel to the end of the taper. The come in various sizes and are measured by the larger end. They are usually approximately 2-3 inches long.
- Dead Stretching: No equipment is used for this method. Larger jewelry is just forced though the existing piercing. This can lead to two types of injury; a simple tear in the skin or a "blowout" in which the skin is pushed though the back of the piercing by pressure. A build up of scar tissue may also form making it harder to stretch in the future.
- Weights: This isn't traditionally used in modern day practice. Large weighted jewelry can be used to stretch the piercing. It tends to cause the piercing to migrate and, especially in ears, leads to thinning of tissue that is disfiguring and needs surgery to repair.
- Scalpel: This involves using a scalpel to cut the ends of the existing piercing, expanding it's diameter. This is typically used to alter the placement of a large piercing.
- Silicone Plugs: These soft, malleable plugs are folded and inserted into the existing piercing. Once placed they expand and stretch the ear lobe. However, this is often a foolish decision because they are tacky and they skin can adhere to the silicone making it airtight. Bacteria and infection gets trapped in the ear and spreads internally.
There are very few health issues directly related to stretching. Most properly stretched piercings do no create a wound and, depending on the individuals skin elasticity, most heal very well after stretching. A lot of people agree that 12.7 mm is the "point of no return" and the ear won't heal right if stretched past that point.
If done improperly, or too large, it can take minor surgery to correct and in some cases can not be corrected. Blowouts from over-stretching or stretching too fast with too much pressure, can cause scar tissue. Stretching too fast or skipping over gauges to a bigger one can cause bleeding and infection.