Stretching Piercings For Lower Gauge Ear JewelryStretching Piercings For Lower Gauge Ear Jewelry

Stretching piercings is a common way of increasing your piercing size to accommodate lower gauge ear jewelry. The way jewelry gauging works is that the lower the gauge, the greater the diameter of the pins or plugs that pass through the ears. Thus a 16g piercing is 1.2 mm diameter and 18g is 1.0 mm. Some people refer to changing from 18g to 16g as 'gauging up' while others say it's 'gauging down'.

However, the important factor is that stretching piercings to accommodate higher diameter jewelry involves changing to lower numbered gauges. What type of jewelry are we referring to here where we need increasingly wider holes in our ears so that they fit? Why not just fit standard size pins to all ear jewelry regardless of the size of the visible part - after all, nobody actually sees the part going through the earlobes, do they?

Wrong! In fact, in many cases, the diameter of the piercing is what it's all about, and many types of ear decorations are designed only for the larger gauge piercings. By stretching piercings in the ear lobes by up to an inch or even more, way beyond the 10 mm standard 00g, you can wear amazing flesh tunnels that create a hole in your ear lobes all the way through.

These are usually made from metal or hard plastics, but the can be adorned with diamonds for bling, or the flesh tunnel can even be made of crystal or amber, or any other material such as wood or even gold or platinum for the rich. The point is that flesh tunnels have no impact if too small, and for any ear piercing to be used for them, it must be stretched, or 'gauged' as some refer to it as, to the size of the intended tunnel.

This is not necessarily a specialist technique, though some people have it done professionally. However, the original piercing is best carried out professionally using a needle to 16 gauge, or 16g. Most gun piercings are to 20g or 18g, and are carried out by relatively inexperienced non-professionals who may have had less than a couple of weeks training, if that.

So if you are considering stretching piercings to fit lower gauge ear jewelry, and have not yet had your ears pierced yet, then have it done professionally. The reason is that each stretching can only be to the next gauge - since these go down in twos the next after 16g is 14g, and so on down. If you start with a piercing gun at 20g, you theoretically have two stretchings to carry out before you even reach 16g, although sometimes older piercings at the higher gauge number can accommodate a 16g taper, so may be able to be stretched using a taper that goes from 16g to 14g.

New piercings, though, should be done at 16g and that means professional needle piercing, which is generally less painful and heals quicker than a punched piercing carried out using a gun. After each gauge step, you will have to wait until your stretched piercing has time to build up a thicker layer of skin so that it can be further stretched in turn.

That takes about 3 times the time it took for your original piercing to heal completely - so it is a long process before you can reach a half inch tunnel, let alone one inch. A normal ear piercing takes 6-10 weeks to heal completely and there are about 11 steps from 16g to a half inch. That means for a half inch flesh tunnel, stretched correctly, it could take a minimum of 15 months and up to 2 years.

It takes a lot of patience, but you will get there eventually. Meantime, in between, you can enjoy a whole range of lower gauge ear jewelry, gradually increasing size over time. Therefore, you won't ever be without your ear adornment, and in fact might like some of it so much that you may decide to stay with it for a few months. Some studs, bars and smaller plugs and flesh tunnels look amazing, and you might decide that even half inch is too much for you.

Stretching piercings to fit larger diameter ear jewelry is a great idea, and many go the whole hog, but even more find themselves satisfied with the effect that even a smaller diameter piercing can offer and the wonderful range of ear jewelry that is available for them at even 0 gauge and smaller.
by B Hopper
References and Bibliography
More tips on stretched piercings for lower gauge ear jewelry can be found on Mark's website Flesh Tunnel where you will also find a selection of Ear Stretching Tools and some great flesh tunnels and jewelry for your ears.
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