When moving from one gauge to another, or beginning the process of stretching your earlobes, it’s so important to do it safely and properly. Seriously. Stretching too soon or too fast can lead to bleeding, tearing and permanent damage to the tissue in your lobes.
You can always go to a piercer for help with the stretching process, but many people choose to do it at home. That’s fine. Just make sure you’re smart/hygienic about it.
Are your earlobes already pierced?
If YES, continue to Step 2.
If NO, please read Step 1.
Get your ears pierced. Avoid those kiosks at the mall, if possible. Go to a professional piercer (http://www.safepiercing.org/locate-a-member/) who will use a needle rather than a gun. Make sure you let them know your plan is to stretch your lobes. Some piercers will be willing to use a thicker needle (up to a 10 gauge), which will help you skip a few beginning sizes on your stretching. Also, most earlobe piercings are placed closer to the front of the lobe. You’re going to want one that’s more centrally located when stretching, to allow room for the tissue to expand.
Allow your piercings to heal, and then wait twice the length of that time before you start stretching. This is important because every body heals differently. Twice the amount of time gives a safe window, and ensures you aren’t stretching tissue that’s already damaged.
Get your hands on a stretching kit and a good lubricant or stretching balm. Start at a 14 or 16 gauge taper. Clean your hands before you attempt to push a taper through your lobe. Even if you can’t see any sort of irritation, your tissue is stretching and forming micro-tears, which are just as susceptible to infection as an open wound is. Stretching your lobes in the shower (if it’s possible for you to safely do so) or right after you get out can make things a little easier because the tissue will be more flexible. Make sure to apply the lubricant to your ear as well as the taper, and then start to push. You may experience some resistance, but it shouldn’t be painful. Once you’ve reached the thickest part of the taper, you’re set at that gauge.
As tempting as it is to jump gauges, DON’T DO IT. As with the initial piercing, it’s good to wait a few months between gauges. Remember those micro-tears? Those need to heal. And blowouts!? Yeah, no thank you. Just be patient.
*Should you experience any swelling, redness, tenderness due to infection throughout the stretching process, you’re going to want to size back down to a comfortable gauge and allow the lobe to heal fully before attempting to size up any further.
Aftercare is crucial. Keep those lobes moisturized to avoid blow outs and scarring. Once you’ve reached your goal size, be sure to continue a routine for keeping them clean/not smelly. Wash them regularly in the shower. You can even apply piercing deodorant (say whaaaaat?) to prevent the funky smells.
Wearing organic jewelry will also help with the aftercare blues. They won’t irritate your ears, and they’re porous, so dead skin cells are absorbed by the material rather than sitting on your plugs.
Always consult with your piercer if you’re unsure about any jewelry changing procedures, including increasing the gauge size.