Opinion / Piercing

Adventures With Ear Stretching

Front of stretched lobe at 2mm

Going into ear stretching probably isn’t something that would have ever crossed my mind if I didn’t work for Blue Banana. Stretch piercings are instantly recognisable, very popular in the alternative scene and basically allow for a new kind of unique style. People can react quite violently to ear stretching, particularly when the size becomes quite large (10mm+ seems to be the point where people generally say “gross”). I recently posted on the Blue Banana twitter about my new adventure into ear stretching and, whilst almost every single reply was helpful and supportive, I was struck by one follower who insisted that I didn’t want “fanny ears”.

So why am I stretching my ear lobes? Well, to be fair I barely intend to stretch them at all. If you’re curious about the process then there’s no law saying that you have to go up to instantly noticeable sizes. A small black plug in a 4mm stretch looks very much like a regular piercing but can be worn with tunnels and interesting designs. As someone who hates studs and hanging earrings look silly from my second set of lobe piercings, I thought I’d give this a try. I have grown bored of my second piercings lately regardless and, if I don’t enjoy stretch piercings then I can always go through the healing process of this latest stretch and then take them out (if you take out a new piercing before it’s healed then you’re trapping all the stuff it’s trying to heal INSIDE you!).

Buying My Ear Stretching Gear!

3 mm tapers in the style of my next size!

I got my first tapers at Blue Banana, which is also where I work. I’ve written so much about ear stretching and done so much research, I felt very confident about proceeding. Many advise that tapers are not to be worn as jewellery, some of the sheer rage that I’ve encountered regarding this has really thrown me in the past. Concerned that I wanted to do this piercing right, I looked into tapers and plugs for initial ear stretching but quickly discovered that all body jewellery for stretch piercings that aren’t tapers seem to start at 3mm – 4mm. Perhaps I wasn’t looking hard enough or in the wrong places but I decided that perhaps the early stages are fine and just bought the tapers (2mm and 3mm).

Starting the Stretch

When I got home I washed my hands and the jewellery and used a water-based lubricant on the outside of the taper. After reading through the Piercing Bible by Elayne Angel (which is where I get a lot of my info about piercings) I realised that she actually advises placing the lubricant on the tip of the taper or on the lobe itself. This allows for a better grip and stops it getting on your fingers. In retrospect I should have done this, though I don’t think my difficulties were more than minimal. When I inserted the taper into my ear, I felt a tightness and heat as I slowly pushed the acrylic through. At about half way, I found it difficult to proceed, pushing the taper met with a lot of resistance and if I pushed harder I felt something that was too close to pain for my taste, so decided to just leave the piercings to settle and read a book for a few hours. When I returned to them, I worried that the lubricant may have dried (I really should have washed it off after my first attempt but I didn’t realise I’ve be reading for hours) so applied more and continued to push on the taper. I attached the “o” rings when 4/5 of the taper had gone through and this last part was quite easy!

Aftercare So Far

Ear stretching has proven to be very simple for me, possibly aided by how small this first stretch is. I’ve had no bleeding and very little build up. Every evening I soak my lobes in a warm saline solution using an old film container, which fits perfectly around my lobes and is easy to hold. In the mornings I’m currently wiping down the outside rather than soaking again but I also wash my hands continuously throughout the day (I cannot leave things alone such as new piercings so this is the best way to combat the problem) and have experienced only the smallest amount of crusty build up. On Sunday I will have had my tapers in for a week and I know that acrylic tapers have pores that can allow for the build up of bacteria so I’ll be taking them out tonight to clean them. Maybe I should have done this earlier but I’ve been surprised by how easy the healing has been, compared to the piercing initially. Only time will tell though if I’m taken adequet care of my new ear stretching!

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One thought on “Adventures With Ear Stretching

  1. Please be careful! My concerns about the method you’re using are the same as in this section from my book, The Piercing Bible:

    Tapered Jewelry: Caution
    Many graduated jewelry styles come in metal, glass, acrylic, and an array of natural materials. A popular type is called a stretching crescent or stretching ring, and these are basically curved or circular insertion tapers. Variations include talons that are hooked or bent, spirals, and straight pieces that look just like insertion tapers. These can be dangerous because piercees have a tendency to cause tissue damage by stretching too quickly with them. Also, when tapered jewelry is used for stretching, the O-rings that are required to keep the ornament in place can cause irritation from excessive pressure against the skin. Tapered jewelry is safest in holes that have already been stretched.

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