Stretched Piercing Aftercare
Stretching is the gradual enlargement of a piercing. Some people stretch already existing piercings to larger sizes, such as their lobes. Other times, a piercing is removed and not replaced in time and the hole shrinks slightly, not allowing enough space for the jewelry to sit. In these situations, stretching is the best option. While not as intense as getting the piercing itself, there are still some things to remember about getting a piercing stretched, as there can be risks.
When To Stretch
Since every person varies, there really is no set time table as to when you should stretch. Even someone who is in the process of stretching their ears might realize one is easier to stretch than the other. Lower sizes are easier to heal, as the gaps between sizes aren’t as large. As you gradually get larger, however, the jumps between sizes grows and your body will need more and more time to rest and recoup before you stretch again. If you are not sure if your piercing is ready to be stretched, contact your piercer and they will be able to go over the details of your piercing with you.
Stretching piercings is not the same as getting a new piercing and things must be considered when stretching beyond what jewelry size typically goes in a specific piercing. Once a piercing is stretched past a certain point, it will not close normally again. Again, since bodies vary from person to person, there is no real way to tell where that point is for everyone. It is important to remember that the effects of stretching may not be irreversible should you decide to remove your jewelry.
Overstretching your piercings can result in a “blowout”, which essentially means an excessive build up of scarring and reduction of healthy blood flow. This makes the tissue around the piercing easier to thin, tear, and quite possibly even result in the loss of your piercing. Avoid stretching your ears more than one size at a time, especially when you reach larger sizes. Rushing through the process is not the way to get the result that you want.
It is a good idea to see a professional piercer to help you with piercing stretches. While it may seem easy, it can result in some very negative effects. A professional will be able to go over all of the details with you, select the appropriate jewelry, and gently insert the pieces to ensure that the stretch is done in the best way possible for your body. Also please note that tapers are not intended to be worn as jewelry and can drastically effect the positive outcomes of stretching. Misuse of tapers can result in serious damage.
When stretching, we opt for glass single flared plugs. These are bio-compatible and easy to install in a freshly stretched piercing. We carry styles in a variety of colors and have found that this style of jewelry tends to give our clients the easiest time healing. They are also fairly priced and you won’t break the bank sizing your ears up. We do not stretch with organic materials, acrylic, jewelry with grooves for O-rings, or double flared jewelry.
Even though you didn’t get a fresh piercing, you should treat your stretch as if it were one. Wash it absolutely last in the shower, avoid touching it, and try to give your immune system a nice extra boost. Do not remove your jewelry for at least three weeks, as your skin needs to establish itself around the larger jewelry. Removing jewelry too soon can result in loss of the piercing.
Maintaining A Stretched Piercing
Since your skin has more surface area, there is more room for piercing related discharge to build up, as well as dead skin and makeup. Removing jewelry from a well established piercing while showering can help to wash away any buildup that may occur. Be sure to gently reinsert your jewelry afterwards and again, never remove jewelry from a freshly stretched piercing.
Stretched earlobes specifically can have a bit more upkeep with them. If you are at a 2g or above, most of the time you can remove your jewelry while sleeping to provide yourself with more comfort. This also helps prevent build up in the jewelry while you’re sleeping, as well as relieves the tissue from the pressure and weight of the jewelry and increases circulation to the area, especially at the bottom of the lobe where most of the weight of the jewelry sits. Generally, the longer you have had an established stretched lobe, the longer you can leave your jewelry out without it shrinking.
An additional step that you can take to help upkeep your healthy lobes is using a Vitamin E oil on the area daily. We recommend BioOil, as it is sensitive skin friendly and very mild, but you can use jojoba or any Vitamin E oil. Once a day for a few minutes on each each, gently massage the oil on your lobes (without the jewelry in). This will help increase blood flow, restore skin elasticity, and help to prevent tears and cracks especially in colder climates.
If you have recently stretched a piercing and notice that it is very sore, red, weepy, or inflamed, you may have a problem. You may have stretched too quickly, resulting in irritation, or you may be having a negative reaction to the material of jewelry. It’s important to treat a freshly stretched piercing just as you would treat an actual fresh piercing. Failure to do this can result in negative consequences such as infection and even tissue loss. With severe irritation, you may need to downsize your ears (make them smaller) in order for your tissue to calm down. Downsizing isn’t always ideal for clients, especially those with a goal in mind. But this is a good way to keep your ears happy and healthy. If you think that you have an issue with your ears, please come see us so that we can evaluate the situation.