How Does Earlobe Stretching Work?

How Does Earlobe Stretching Work?

Ear stretching
Photo: Valter Campanato/ABr via Wikimedia

There are several different ways of stretching, or gauging, your earlobes. However, they all begin with the same step – get your ears pierced at a reputable studio by an experienced practitioner, such as the talented Vivid Ink team of body piercers. The position of the initial piercing is also important – it should be slightly higher than the middle of your ear lobe, if you are hoping to go big.

Slow and steady

Then the key is patience. The slower you go about it, the more comfortable and easy it will feel. Learn to listen to your body. Also remember that people have different ears. Some people’s ear lobes hang loose, whereas others are attached to the face. If you have attached ear lobes (welcome to the Elf club), you will probably only be able to reach a stretch of about 12 mm in diameter, as opposed to someone with freer lobes that can get a 30 mm or about. 

When dealing with naturally elastic skin such as your earlobes, you will often not even need any particular instruments to make the piercing larger. You simply ‘graduate’ to a piece of jewelry slightly larger than the one you have been wearing. Say you are starting out with a 1.2 mm piece. Then the next step would be 1.6 mm, then 2.5, 3, 3.5 and so on. Once you start stretching, stay at the same size for a minimum of two weeks, but preferably all the way up to six, to allow your body and skin time to heal. 


You can also purchase a set of especially made tapers and use them. These are normally slimmer at one end and so are easy to insert. You should start with a size 14 or 16, as ears are usually pierced with an 18 to 20. Always remember to practice good hygiene when handling the jewelery or the gauges you will insert into the ear lobe.

Photo: Pierre Pouliquin via Flickr

A good quality oil lubricant will help skin stay smooth and supple and lets the taper slide in more easily. It may still hurt a little, but the procedure should not make your piercing bleed. If this happens, most likely you have chosen a taper that is too large. Remove it, clean, disinfect, wait for the wound to heal, then use a smaller taper instead. Then replace the taper with your plug or tunnel. 

Stay clean and infection-free

However, this process should only be initiated about eight to ten weeks after your initial piercing appointment! A fully healed ear piercing will not be tender to the touch, nor will it close up if left without jewelry for more than a couple of hours. Once you have begun the stretching, remove your plugs or tunnels after a week and clean the whole area.

Furthermore, you should wash your ears with antibacterial soap twice a day, and use a cotton swab to remove any crusted skin around the pierced area. Meanwhile, giving your ear lobes a nice, gentle massage for about five minutes per day will further aid in the healing. It is also an acupressure technique considered to relieve headaches, so win win. 


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