Getting your ears gauged can be a tricky business. Over time, you’re basically stretching the pierced hole in your lobe to a desired size. Thus, there are certain things to know if you get your ears gauged that differ from regular piercing maintenance. Gauging isn't something that will happen overnight — and it will likely take a lot of time and patience. However, if you’re a fan of the aesthetic, the results will hopefully be more than worth it.
Once the territory of emo and pop punk kids, ear stretching has seemingly hit the masses and undoubtedly looks great on anybody. With the array of different plugs, tunnels, and other gorgeous ear jewelry available nowadays, gauges can suit a variety of sartorial tastes. It's no longer associated with the alternative subcultures of our teen years in the earlier 2000s.
A personal fave ear stretching siren of mine whose lobe embellishments I love is singer Melanie Martinez. Her sugar-coated, kooky style is not dissimilar to Katy Perry's in those “Teenage Dream” days, and she’s been spotted in gem-style, bejeweled plugs that remind me of toys from the 1990s.
I decided to speak with pro piercer Ashley of Venus by Maria Tash in order to get the inside info you’ll want to know if you’re a fan of stretched earlobes, too.
1. Your Earlobe Holes May Never Get Back To "Normal"
Ashley tells me, “Whether or not the lobe will shrink up again after stretching has to do with a few factors: Elasticity of the person's skin and how long the person waited between stretches besides the main ones.”
She adds, “There is no guaranteed size at which someone could plan to stop and remove their jewelry and expect to have them go back to a ‘normal’ size — my ears personally are stretched to 1 inch and, after having left jewelry out for four months or so due to laziness and a hectic schedule, my ears shrunk back to almost half the size. They were still smaller than they had been, but not small by conventional standards.”
This is definitely something to consider if you’re contemplating having your earlobes stretched, as they might not go back to their original size.
2. You Can Repair Gauged Earlobes
However, getting your ears gauged isn’t completely irreversible. Ashley says, “The good news is that if someone wanted their earlobes to go back to their original size, they could always be stitched up by a plastic surgeon.” Although surgery is probably not ideal, at least it’s an option for folks who want it.
3. You Should Wait Eight To 10 Weeks Between Stretches
“Personally, I recommend most people wait at least eight to 10 weeks between stretches (or longer! I waited about six months between each stretch) to ensure that the tissue has recovered enough from the previous stretch, to support going bigger without causing any tears to the tissue,” Ashley informs me. So don’t try to rush things up, otherwise you may risk tearing your tissue.
4. Tears Can Cause Scar Tissue
Ashley tells me all about what tissue tears entail. She explains, “Tears not only cause discomfort but, if they happen regularly, can cause scar tissue to build up which will complicate future stretches. They can also prevent the skin from shrinking as quickly as it otherwise would, in the case that someone changes their mind and wants their earlobes to shrink back up.”
If you think you may want your earlobes to shrink back later down the line, it’s probably wise to try your best not to tear your tissue.
5. Pain While Stretching Probably Means You’re Damaging The Tissue
“When enough time has lapsed between stretches, the stretch simply feels like slight pressure,” Ashley explains. However, “Pain while stretching is usually a good sign that someone is stretching too quickly and damaging the tissue.”
6. You Should Care For New Gauges Like You Would Your Average Newly-Pierced Ears
Contrary to what you may think, “Care is no different than a traditional earlobe as it is the same thing, simply on a larger scale,” Ashley tells me. So if you’ve had regular pierced lobes in the past, caring for newly gauged ears should be simple.
7. Stretching Can Be Done With A Tool Called A Taper
Ever wondered how stretching actually happens? Ashley tells me, “Stretching can be done with a tool called a taper: It is skinny on one side and the size of the larger jewelry on the other end.” She divulges, “My favorite style of jewelry for stretching is a plug made of glass; they usually have rounded ends which slide gently into the piercing and facilitate a simple stretch without the use of any tools.”
8. It’s Best To Get A Professional Involved With Stretching
Ashley says, “It is always preferable to have a professional assist with stretching as when one uses a taper on their own, they can be tempted into stretching before the tissue is ready. There is a YouTube video that comes to mind where a girl is stretching too fast and manages to rip her earlobe in half — yikes!” Well that’s definitely enough to put anyone off DIY stretching for life.
9. Don’t Skip Sizes When Stretching
Although it may be super tempting to skip sizes, Ashley warns, “One should not skip sizes when stretching. This, again, can cause painful tearing with potentially irreversible results.” Patience is a virtue for a reason, guys.
Whether you’re just an admirer, you’re planning on getting your ears gauged, or you’re an ear stretching veteran, these handy tips should have you covered.