The practice of enlarging ear and body piercings can be seen in many cultures throughout history. Currently, it is a growing trend in modern society. The look of enlarged holes can be achieved by doing initial piercings with large gauge jewelry (gauge=size), or by stretching piercings gradually over time. We offer both large-gauge piercings and stretching at Evolution, but this information is specific to stretching your piercings.
If you want to stretch an existing piercing it is important to wait until it is well healed. If you want to enlarge the hole significantly it will take some time and patience. You will need to go one size (gauge) at a time, and keep the following in mind:
- Every time you stretch a piercing you create microscopic tears in the collagen layer, and it takes a minimum of 6 weeks for that tissue to heal properly.
- Each stretch is bigger than the last, so the larger you go, the longer you may need to wait between sizes.
- Some piercings are easier to stretch than others.
- Stretching too quickly can result in uneven tearing, scarring, or thinning of the tissue (all of which can limit future stretching).
Everyone’s body is different, so there is no magic answer to the question “How big can I stretch until it won’t go back?” Following the guidelines below to keep the tissue healthy is the best thing you can do to maintain elasticity, but you should never stretch a piercing if you are unwilling to accept the possibility that it will be a permanent modification.
While organic or natural jewelry such as wood, horn or bone is very popular for wear in stretched piercings, it is safer to do the initial stretch with jewelry that is non-porous and can be sterilized. We suggest surgical implant-grade stainless steel, surgical implant grade titanium, niobium, 14k or 18k gold, or Pyrex for stretching. Once healed, you can start wearing organic jewelry or more decorative styles.
Caring For A Stretched Piercing
You will need to treat a newly stretched piercing like a fresh piercing (follow the same aftercare guidelines that you did when your piercing was new). Once the jewelry can be comfortably removed, tissue massage (with or without oil) will improve circulation, speed healing, and reduce scar tissue. This is especially important if you experience a “blow out” or tissue damage when stretching. Should this happen, consider dropping to a smaller size to reduce pressure and increase circulation until the tissue is healed.
Stretching At Evolution Is Free!
If you purchase jewelry from Evolution we don’t charge to stretch your piercing. In most cases, we use an insertion taper to ease the jewelry in. This is usually significantly less painful and less likely to damage the tissue than just pushing the jewelry through.
We also never charge for consultations, even if we didn’t do the piercing or stretch it for you. We’re always happy to answer your questions and help you make informed decisions on body modifications.