Ear piercings first became popular in 5,300 BC (and perhaps even earlier than that). Since then, ear piercings have only continued to get more popular. While there have been some drops in earring popularity in the past, today, they are more popular than ever.
In fact, you will be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't have at least one ear piercing. But there is a big difference between regular ear piercings and ear stretching. Ear stretching is a somewhat more invasive way of decorating your ears, but it also gives you a very unique look compared to ordinary earrings.
How can you make sure that you do it safely and that the results come out the way you want? Keep reading and learn more about how to stretch your ears the right way below. Here is what we will explore:
- What You Need to Know About Ear Stretching for Beginners
- Decide on the Gauge Size You Need
- Take It Slow
- How Long Will It Take To Stretch Your Ears?
- Will Stretched Ears Ever Close?
- Does It Hurt To Stretch Your Ears?
- Is Ear Stretching Permanent?
- How To Take Care of Your Stretched Ears
What You Need To Know About Ear Stretching for Beginners
Ear stretching is not new, but it is newer to the Western world. People in Africa, South America, and other countries have been stretching their ears for hundreds of years. Only in recent years has this unique type of ear modification become more popular in Western countries such as America, Canada, England, and so on.
Ear stretching is relatively simple, but there are a few different factors that you should know about. The main thing you need to know is that the practice consists of introducing gauges or plugs to your ear lobes. Over a long period of time, you will switch out the plugs you use so that the cartilage of your ear lobe will slowly start to stretch around the plug.
At a certain point, you'll be able to achieve very large earlobes and you'll be able to rock super large plugs as well. You can continue stretching your ears as much as you want. There is a certain limit, however, at which you should stop.
The Art of Ear Stretching
If you stretch the cartilage of your earlobe too much, the cartilage might become very thin and weak. This will make your earlobe far more susceptible to damage. However, this is usually only the case for those who try extreme ear stretching.
If you are only interested in relatively tame or even moderate ear stretching, then you likely won't have to worry about this problem. You might be wondering if there is any real difference between ear-piercing gauges and regular ear piercings. The main difference is that, in most cases, regular ear piercings don't function to stretch your ear's cartilage.
Instead, when you pierce your ear, there will only be a small hole that is only large enough to accommodate the thin filaments that most earrings have. Earrings will not stretch your earlobes at all. However, there are some cases in which regular earrings may stretch your ears to a certain extent.
This only usually happens with very heavy earrings. Such earrings will weigh down your earlobes and cause them to stretch. Of course, they will not stretch your earlobes nearly as much as real ear gauges.
To accomplish ear stretching for real, you will need special gauges that you can switch between as your ear starts to stretch more and more.
But where should you get started?
Decide on the Gauge Size You Need
The very first step you need to go through before you even start to stretch your ears is to understand the different ear gauge sizes. Obviously, you won't be able to start with huge 10 mm plugs if you've never stretched your ears before. However, if you've already pierced your earlobes, then you're already on the right track.
If you haven't pierced your ears yet, then you'll need to go to a piercing parlor to get started. Remember that piercing your ears should always be a very sterile process. If you end up with someone who pierces your ears with non-sterile equipment, you could end up with a bad infection or worse.
Most people start with a 14 gauge plug when they first start stretching their ears. A 14 gauge plug is around 1.6 mm in size. This may seem a bit large for your first step, but most people actually find that this is the perfect place to start.
Jumping right in with a 14 gauge plug may be a bit uncomfortable at first, but it tends to work well for most people. This is especially true if you've worn heavy earrings for a long time in the past and your ear lobes are already stretched quite a lot. In this case, you will find that 14 gauge plugs are not much of a big deal at all.
Different Gauge Sizes
However, you may find a 14 gauge plug to be too much to handle if you've only worn regular earrings for most of your life. This is because the holes in your ears will be too small to accommodate such a large gauge. Instead, you will need to start with a much smaller gauge to stretch your ears comfortably and effectively.
In particular, you may need to start with one of the smallest possible gauges known as an 18 gauge. This gauge is only 1 mm and should be small enough to accommodate any kind of earlobe. If you need something that's extra small for your ears, you can opt for the smallest gauge, which is a 20 gauge.
Most people don't need to start with this one since it is so small, but it may work well for some people, especially if you have sensitive ears or have only recently gotten your ears pierced. In some cases, if your ear piercings are small but not too small, you may be able to get a slightly larger gauge such as a 16 gauge.
This gauge is only slightly larger than an 18 gauge and it is around 1.2 mm. If you are getting your gauges from a professional piercing shop, the employee may be able to decide on the best gauge size for you.
Take It Slow
A lot of people get so excited about stretching their ears that they end up trying to do it much too fast. This is always a mistake for several reasons. Trying to stretch your ears too quickly will only end up with you hurting your ears.
This is not the proper way to stretch your ears. Instead, the only proper way to stretch your ears is to have patience. There is no way to speed up the process without hurting your ears in some way.
For that reason, don't try to speed along the process by skipping gauge sizes. You also should allow your earlobes plenty of time to heal. Every time you start with a new gauge size, your ears will need some time to heal. If you try to continue stretching your ears before your ears are healed, it will be a very uncomfortable process and you might even develop an infection.
This, of course, would only interrupt and slow down the entire stretching process. Some people even try to stretch their ears with things that aren't even plugs like pencils or coins. This is a terrible idea because, again, you could introduce bacteria to your ears which could end up causing a bad infection.
Besides infections, other types of trauma could happen to your ears if you try to take the process too fast. In particular, you could end up scarring your ears. Keep in mind that cartilage doesn't heal very well.
The Healing Capacities of Cartilage
This is why when you pierce your ears, you will always have that piercing even if you don't wear earrings for years at a time. If you're not careful about how you stretch your ears, you'll end up with visible damage to your earlobes. However, developing scar tissue is not only an unattractive feature but can also be detrimental to the stretching process.
This is because scar tissue is very firm and inflexible. If you develop scar tissue as a result of stretching your ears too fast, the scar tissue might actually prevent you from stretching your ears anymore no matter how hard you try. Besides that, there are some cases in which stretching your ears too fast can irritate your ears so much that it can cause a keloid.
A keloid is a thick and raised scar that can appear on any part of the body, but it is especially common on the ears after the ears have experienced some kind of trauma. When left untreated, keloids can become very large, bulbous, and uncomfortable. The only way to get rid of them is with surgery and even then, there is still a chance that these scars could grow back to their original size.
For that reason, to keep it safe, you'll want to make sure that you stretch your ears slowly. That way, your ears will have time to adjust to the stretch of the gauges over time and you won't end up damaging your ears.
How Long Will It Take to Stretch Your Ears?
The great thing about stretching your ears is that you can stretch them as much or as little as you want. For that reason, there is not necessarily a set amount of time that it will take you to finish stretching your ears. It all depends on how much you want to stretch your earlobes.
Some people like to stretch them only slightly so they can wear stylish plugs that are a few millimeters across. Others like to stretch their ears so they can wear huge plugs. Whatever the case, it is all up to what you're looking for from your ear-stretching journey.
Of course, if you want to wear huge plugs, then it's going to take a lot longer to reach that point, especially if you are new to ear stretching. It will likely take you several months or even longer. On the other hand, if you only plan on stretching your ears a little bit, then you should be able to accomplish it in a much shorter period of time.
Another factor that determines the length of time to stretch your ears is how long it takes for your ears to heal. You can't start gauging your ears without piercing your ears first. When you pierce your ears for the first time, you will need to wait for those piercings to heal completely.
Otherwise, you could end up introducing bacteria into your piercings. Again, causing an infection is only going to slow down the stretching process. Some people may take longer than others to heal after getting their ears pierced.
One problem is that some people may think that their pierced ears are healed even when they actually aren't.
In particular, it usually takes around 6 months for pierced ears to heal. Some people might heal in 4 months while others may take 8 months.
The important thing to remember is to have patience. You should always wait at least 6 months before starting to stretch your ears even if you think your ears are healed before that time. While your ears might look and feel healed, cartilage heals very slowly and it is likely that it is still in the process of healing.
If you still feel some aches or pains when touching your earlobe after several months, this is a sign that it is not done healing yet. As your earlobe heals, always make sure that you follow any directions given to you by the person who pierced your ears.
The first few weeks after getting a piercing are the most demanding since you will need to keep your piercings very clean and wash your ears every day to prevent any infections.
After about 6 months, you should be ready to start stretching your ears. From there, you can decide how long you want to stretch your ears. When you don't want to stretch your ears anymore, you can stick with the same size gauge for however long you want so your ears will stop stretching and simply maintain their size.
Will Stretched Ears Ever Close?
Some people think that once you stretch your ears that they'll never close, but this is not necessarily true. All stretched ears will close to a certain extent, but some might not close all the way.
The length of time it takes for your ears to close will also depend on how much you stretched your earlobes. There are also some other factors to consider such as the unique elasticity of your own skin. Some people are able to heal better than others based on their skin type.
Some people have skin that is not as elastic as others, and as a result, their ears may not close very well. In general, you should start to see some closing around 4 months as long as you stop using any plugs completely. By that point, the holes in your ears should start to shrink and come together somewhat.
This, however, is only the case for small gauges. As long as you only stretched your ears a few millimeters, you won't have to worry too much about there being big holes left in your ears. They may not close all the way, but they should close most of the way so that any remaining hole won't be very visible.
However, if you have developed scar tissue in your earlobes as a result of stretching, your earlobes may not close very much at all. As mentioned before, scar tissue has next to no elasticity. For that reason, scarred earlobes will likely stay more or less the same size even after months of not stretching your ears.
Understanding the Process
But what about those with larger gauges? Unfortunately, those with very large gauges will have a hard time waiting for their ears to close. Once you stretch your earlobes to a certain point, it will be nearly impossible for them to close.
This is because you have stretched the cartilage to the point that there is too much excess cartilage to simply shrink down to a more manageable size. In this case, you will find that even after several months of letting your ears rest, your earlobes will still have large holes in them and the remaining cartilage in your earlobes will be quite saggy.
To avoid this problem, some people end up wearing their plugs even if they don't want to just to keep the shape of their earlobes. If you really want to stop wearing plugs and let your ears close, you will likely need to get surgery. This kind of surgery will involve cutting away the excess, stretched cartilage, and then sewing together what is left.
That way, your earlobe will be back to its original size. Usually, surgery isn't necessary if you've only ever stretched your ears a small amount.
Does It Hurt To Stretch Your Ears?
There is indeed a certain amount of discomfort that you will experience when stretching your ears, but you should never experience any severe pain. Usually, you should only feel some tingling or heat in your ears when you first begin to stretch them. This is a sign that the plug you're using is a good size and doing what it's supposed to do.
After you wear one kind of plug for a while, the tingling sensation will start to fade and the plug will become very comfortable. At that point, most people will decide to move onto a plug that is slightly larger to continue stretching their ears. Of course, if you only want to stretch your ears to a certain size, then you can stick with a certain gauge and decide not to increase its size.
If you start stretching your ears and find that your ears are in a lot of pain, you likely chose the wrong type of gauge. A gauge that is too big for the holes in your ears will stretch your ears too much and will be very uncomfortable. As mentioned before, doing this is not only painful but it can contribute to stretching your ears too fast which may cause scar tissue or other damage.
If you find that your ears are in a lot of pain, all you need to do is go down a gauge size. You should find that a slightly smaller gauge size will be much more comfortable and it will still help stretch your ears. If you accidentally stretched your ears too fast and find that they are very sensitive and painful as a result, it is best to take a break from any gauges or plugs for a few weeks.
Allow Your Ears To Heal
This will give your ears some time to heal and recover. After a few weeks, you can go back to stretching your ears, preferably with plugs that are the right size for your ears. If your ears need time to heal, it is a good idea to apply some oil to them.
Oil helps soothe aching ears and can even help them heal faster. You can choose whatever kind of oil you want. However, some types of oil are more popular for ear stretching than others such as jojoba oil, shea butter, and almond oil.
These oils are full of antioxidants and can help reduce any inflammation or swelling your ears might be feeling. After your ears have had some time to rest and heal, you should no longer be in any pain or discomfort and you can go back to stretching your ears. Remember that you shouldn't let your ears rest for too long.
If you wait several months before stretching your ears again, your ears might heal too much and you might lose some of the progress that you made with your gauges.
Is Ear Stretching Permanent?
The idea of stretching your ears may seem attractive to you, but a part of you may be afraid that you'll have to deal with stretched ears forever. After all, if it is a permanent process, what will you do if you decide that you don't like the appearance of stretched ears many years from now?
What if you would like to go back to having regular earlobes? As mentioned before, all stretched ears will shrink back a certain amount, so there is a degree of impermanence that comes along with ear stretching. However, some ears may exhibit permanent deformation from the stretching process while others may shrink back to more or less their original sizes.
How can you know if you will have to deal with the permanent effects of ear stretching? There are a few ways you can tell how well your ears will shrink back after you stretch your ears. Starting with a regular ear piercing is a good place to start.
You can test how well your ears heal by not wearing any earrings for several months at a time. After several months, you'll be able to see how well your ear piercings healed. If you find that they have closed almost all the way, this means that your ears have a good capacity to heal.
The Permanence of the Process
It also means that if you stretch your ears, they should not leave hardly any permanent effects. On the other hand, if you find that after several months that your ear piercing has hardly closed at all, this is a sign that your ears aren't very good at healing on their own.
If this is the case, if you decide to stretch your ears, they will most likely leave some permanent effects and they may not shrink back or close very much.
For that reason, it is important to consider the future consequences of ear stretching. You might love the idea of stretching your ears now, but several years from now, you might regret the decision. Then, you'll have to deal with the permanent consequences of ear stretching.
Also, keep in mind that there is a point for every person where it is impossible for one's ears to shrink back to their original size. This is usually the case for those who have very large gauges of around 4 or so. Once you reach this size, your earlobes won't be able to close no matter how elastic your skin is or how well your ears usually heal.
The permanence of the procedure will also depend on how long you've been stretching your ears. If you've only just started stretching your ears and then changed your mind, your ears should shrink back to their original sizes without much of a problem.
On the other hand, if you've been stretching your ears for years, then it will be much harder for your ears to shrink back and close since they have already stretched so much and become so accustomed to gauges.
How To Take Care of Your Stretched Ears
Now that you know the basics of how to stretch your ears, you might be wondering how to take care of your ears as you stretch them. As mentioned before, stretching your ears should not be very painful but you still will need to go through a certain degree of discomfort. As you stretch your ears, you might find your ears starting to become somewhat dry and achy.
To fix this problem, all you need to do is use some oil on your ears occasionally. Massaging your ears is also helpful as it helps the blood circulate in the area. It is also important to keep your ears clean, especially as you switch to larger gauges when your ears are more sensitive.
Massaging your ears in the shower is a good idea. The warmth of the water will stimulate your ears and ensure that they heal properly. After your shower, use an oil of your choice on your ears.
What You Need to Know
As mentioned before, oils such as almond or jojoba oil are very good choices for your ears since they are gentle and soothing. Rub the oil on your ear lobes and inside the stretched part of the ear. This will not only soothe your ears but it will also protect against the development of scar tissue.
It will also do a good job of keeping your ears clean. If your natural oils start to build up around your earlobes, you might develop pimples in your ears, which will only make stretching your ears even more uncomfortable. But by cleaning and massaging your ears with oil, you shouldn't have that problem.
Be sure to look closely at your ears as well. You might notice some irritated spots or even cuts around your earlobes. If this is the case, you'll want to be extra careful when caring for your ears as you will be at a higher risk for infection.
In this case, it is important to be very consistent with keeping your ears clean. Using a saline mixture is especially helpful for keeping cuts or tears clean.
All About Ear Stretching
Ear stretching is a long process but it can certainly make your ears look extra stylish. It involves stretching your ears with gauges which gradually increase in size. You might decide to stretch your ears only a little bit or you might decide to rock huge gauges.
Whatever the case, caring for your ears throughout the process is very important. To learn more about piercings, don't hesitate to contact us here.