For a long time there has been a pretty clear line between what might be considered a standard piercing and what falls into the category of extreme modification. A classic staple of extreme mods has been not only to stretch the expected lobes but, to stretch and fit plugs/tunnels into a much larger variety of piercings, specifically piercings of the nose and mouth. From the start there are a few things that have to be done differently in order to achieve the right look, making a whole new style and statement.
I can’t stress enough every time that I mention “non standard” or “extreme” modifications just how ingrained into human nature they are! From as early as 5000 BC and across the entire world, tribes of people began to stretch what we now refer to as labret piercings to accommodate larger and larger wooden disks. Hunters as well, in too many places for me to even begin to list, placed tapered bones into their septum to stretch it to a larger and more intimidating size.
While (some) of the reasoning has been left behind for fashion sense, the nature to find new and unique ways to stretch is simply a part of who we are. As I said there are a few different things that are done right from the start to really differentiate one of these piercings. I’ll use the Medusa as an example. The standard Medusa piercing above the upper lip ranges from a 14 to a 20 gauge hole and is done by going horizontally through the lip (at least aimed that way). Common terminology for the more extreme version is a stretched philtrum, for which it’s important to make the piercing at an angle so that the plugs and tunnels can sit properly at a natural angle instead of straight up and down, possibly causing issues with how they will wear.
It’s a perfect example of how even places that people might not think of can be great locations for stretching. Stretching of the septum, nostrils, labrets, and industrials can all be done and when done properly of course, can yield amazing results. Some that have gone to further lengths of unique style and stretched piercings (of nipples and more intimate nature or to sizes upwards of an inch) work to show that with the right patience, practice and care, it’s less a question of if you can and more a question of if you’re dedicated enough to.
Pioneers like Jim Ward and Doug Malloy helped to forward a level of standards and ability, to make practices like stretching a philtrum or stretching nostrils things that are widely accepted in their procedure, health, and ability to be performed on a large scale. The history of our modern day modification is a different story entirely though.
The largest criticism that these piercings tend to come under is the lack of understanding as to how people function with the larger holes in what are more function-intensive areas. While it is true to a certain extent that once a modification of this style is undertaken there is much less room to heal and go back down in size, there are definitely a huge number of people who happily function in their modified state. What can be taken away from all of this is that, while you can never count out the ways to truly make a singular statement, the more severe you get, you can’t put enough thought and time into making sure that you’re truly dedicated to your modifications. The bigger they get, the more a part of you they become, in the best way possible.