Quick Reference

Stretching Rationale | Sizes and Measurements | Types of Jewellery | Stretching Process | Stretching Techniques | Maintenance | Problems

In this guide we discuss the process of stretching a piercing, including why some people may do it, how stretching works and how to stretch safely.

Stretching Rationale

There are many different reasons why people choose to stretch their piercings. Five of the most popular reasons include:

  1. A wish to emulate tribal life. Stretched piercings are a homage to tribal traditions and a way of connecting with and respecting a person’s natural body.
  2. A way to display body ownership. Stretching a piercing is a small way for people to have control over what happens to their body or to push the physical boundaries of what they are capable of.
  3. Fashion and Enjoyment.  For some people stretched piercings fit with a particular image they would like to portray, because they enjoy the process or because they like a particular look or design of jewellery.
  4. To shock or stand out.  Many people like to have a physical identity that shows other people that they do not follow the mainstream or to make people notice something outside the ‘everyday.’
  5. For comfort. Sometimes piercings are more comfortable to have in larger sizes, making jewellery insertion easier, giving a better anchor for healing and providing more range in jewellery.
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Sizes and Measurements

  • Piercing sizes are measured in gauge, inch or milimetre. 
  • The inside of a piercing hole is known as a fistula.
  • Stretching a piercing not known as ‘gauging.’ This is like saying ‘milimetreing’ as a gauge is a measure of size!
  • The best way to find out what size your piercing is at is to ask your body piercer.
  • Alternatively our guide to body jewellery sizes advises easy methods of measuring at home.
  • To see what size you are or need to go to next try our piercing jewellery size chart.
  • Or access our piercing size conversion table to compare sizes in gauge, inch and milimetre.
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Types of Jewellery.

Knowing how to wear different types of jewellery, and what pros and cons they have, can be vital to successful stretching.

      • You should always buy jewellery in a high quality material
      • For stretching you should also wear a jewellery type that is non-porous (smooth)
      • More information on jewellery can be found here.

Large Gauge Jewellery Styles.

Not every style of jewellery is suitable for a newly stretched piercing to heal around. Click on the headings below to explore the different types:

Taper pins, Stretchers, Tusks, Crescents and Expanders
Double Flared Plugs and Tunnels
Single Flare Plugs and Tunnels, Top hats, Eyelets and Septum Bullets
Flesh Tube Plugs and Tunnels
Threaded Plugs and Tunnels
Large gauge regular jewellery (barbells, rings, labrets)
Ear, Ring, Dayak, Coil, Keystone, Knuckle, Helix and Spool Weights
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The Stretching Process

  • The stretching process is a gradual and reasonably gentle technique.
  • Your skin tissue naturally contains a protein known as elastin which is makes the ear ‘elastic.’
  • Stretching creates gaps in the layout of elastin so the tissue needs time to fill in these gaps and make the tissue strong.
  • This is why you should only go up by one size every 4 to 8 weeks.

There are several factors that influence this process (click to expand):

Scar Tissue
Piercing Age
Correct Size Increases
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Stretching Techniques

There are many different ways to successfully gain a large gauge piercing. Click on the headings below to for a full walk-through of each technique.

Taper Pin Technique.
Tape Wrap Technique.
Dermal Punch Technique.
Enlarged Initial Piercings.
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Stretched Piercing Maintenance

Large gauge piercings require much more maintenance than normal sized piercings due to their increased tendency to collect bodily fluids. Click on each heading below to expand more information.

Sleeping Without Jewellery
Reversing Jewellery Insertion
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Problems With Stretching.

  • Stretched piercings are prone to an array of problems or issues that are often not found on regular piercings.
  • If you are having trouble try our guide to common stretched piercing problems.
  • Contact your doctor for medical advice if you are worried.

More Information.

For more information try reading our full guide to piercing stretching. You may also find our guide to jewellery sizing or stretched piercing problems useful. We also have an indepth guide to blow outs, a serious and common problem that can effect stretched piercings.