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Stretching your Piercings

Quick tips on stretching

  • Do not stretch a lobe or other soft tissue piercing faster than one gauge size every 6-8 weeks.

  • Do not stretch any cartilage piercing faster than one gauge size every 3 months. 

  • Do not skip sizes or force jewelry into a piercing.

  • Do not use acrylic tapers to stretch your piercing, the graduation is too steep and can easily cause tearing. 

  • Do not stretch with external thread jewelry, double flared plugs, or silicone.

  • If the jewelry does not slide in easily your piercing is not ready to be stretched.

  • A properly done stretch should not break the skin, if there is blood present that is a sign of tearing. 


Stretching advice will vary based on the person’s anatomy, current health of the piercing, chosen jewelry, and goal size. 

In general a piercing should never be forced larger. When stretched properly jewelry should slip in with minimal effort. Waiting long enough that jewelry inserts easily is crucial. Do not use tapers at home, they are a tool meant for professional use and can easily cause tearing. We typically tell people to wait 6-8 weeks between lobe stretches, 2-3 months for non-lobe soft tissue stretches, and 3 months minimum for cartilage stretches. The body can not generate the new tissue required for a healthy stretch faster than that. So if you rush you are only creating scar tissue and not healthy tissue. Stretching is one of the most popular and simple ways to enjoy your healed piercings. Unfortunately information on the subject tends to be mixed. Here we've gathered some resources related to stretching, along with expanding through our own information. Before you read further please be aware that Precision Body Arts offers sterilization, insertion, and stretching services with any jewelry purchase. 


Stretching is very commonly called "gauging" on the internet and it can sometimes be a source of frustration for professional piercers. "Gauge" is a unit of measurement used to define the thickness of body jewelry, it is not an action or an item. Refering to jewelry as gauges would be similar to calling a bottle of soda ounces. In the same fashion referring to stretching as gauging would be like saying you miled into work, rather than drove or walked. Now, piercer lingo aside, let's get into some information. 


Body jewelry comes in a dizzying assortment of sizes, styles, and materials. Not all are safe or appropriate for stretching. What materials are safe for stretching? You want high quality non-porous, non-organic materials for stretching. The material of stretching jewelry should be considered the same as most jewelry for initial piercing. All jewelry used for stretching should be either internally threaded or threadless. Any plugs or eyelets used for stretching should be single flared, double flared jewelry should not be used for stretching because the flare will be one size larger than the wearing size. 


Some appropriate materials for stretching are:


  • Glass; fused quartz, lead-free borosilicate, or lead-free soda-lime glass

  • F-138 Implant certified Steel, 316LVM Steel is also acceptable. Avoid steel marketed as "stainless" or "surgical". 

  • F-136 Implant certified Titanium

  • Gold (14k or higher)


Some materials are dangerous to stretch with and should be avoided, such as:


  • Acrylics and plastics

  • Silicone eyelets

  • Latex o-rings on plugs (many black o-rings are latex, nitrile o-rings are clear or opaque)

  • Plated materials including gold plated jewelry, or any material with a paint or coating as it will most likely chip or flake off exposing cheap and possibly toxic materials.


Other materials may be acceptable for stretching depending on type of piercing and jewelry. Materials like wood, other organic materials (horn/ bone), and metal weights (brass, copper, silver) should only be worn in fulled healed piercings, and not be used for stretching. If you are ever unsure of a material or jewelry style being appropriate for stretching stop by PBA for a consultation with a piercer.


Many materials can be irritating or harmful to piercings when used to stretch. Avoid any plastics including acrylics, any externally threaded jewelry, double flared jewelry, silicone, and organic material jewelry. Stretching with innapropriate materials or jewelry styles can cause tearing, allergic reactions, and other complications which may lead to scarring, blow outs, migration, rejection, and thinning of piercings, or in rare instances loss of the piercing due to tissue death.


NEVER stretch a piercing with silicone eyelets. Silicone has a naturally tacky surface. When used to stretch a piercing it can easily cause severe tearing and swelling. Silicone jewelry is only appropriate for wear in fully healed piercings. 


Ryan writes for the APP's tumblr page along with Cody Vaughn and they have covered stretching related questions many times over. Check out the links below for useful posts. Take particular note of the TAPER posts. Not all tapers are meant for use in stretching, in fact most professional stretching is done without the aid of any tapers or tools at all. If a stretch is being performed correctly the jewelry should simply slide or wiggle into the piercing with little or no resistance. Using a taper to forceably stretch a piercing can cause scarring, blowouts, thinning of the lobe, and other problems that can result in some pretty ugly earlobes. Click the links below for more information. 


Safepiercing.tumblr "Stretching" posts


Safepiercing.tumblr "Taper" posts


Safepiercing inbox: spirals and tapers


Safepiercing: the cons of wearing tapers as jewelry


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