In tribal cultures the stretching of ear lobes and other soft tissue piercings is predominantly performed with a single method: dead stretching done with gradually larger pins and plugs. In the western world however, there are a variety of techniques for achieving a stretched look, many of them primarily contemporary in origin.
One way that large gauge lobe piercings are achieved is by performing the initial piercing with a larger gauge needle than normal (such as a 12 gauge piercing needle) and then allowing the piercings to heal with pyrex or titanium plugs, or ball captive rings. Rarely a dermal punch may be used to accomplish an even larger initial hole, but this is mostly shied away from as the tissue is soft and easy to stretch. Scalpeling and the “pierce and taper” technique are also generally frowned upon, and each involve more pain and longer healing time, as well as greater risk.
Many choose to stretch with the use of a stretching kit, which includes a tunnel or taper of each standard size across a specific range, say from 14 gauge to 00 gauge. Tapering in general (using tapers and lubricant to enlarge a healed fistula) is a popular contemporary method. But some may decide to size up in even more gradual increments, utilizing a method known as “taping.” This basically involves the use of non-adhesive tape, such as medical grade teflon tape, to wrap layers around the jewelry, resulting in a slowly progressing size enlargement. Although they may take longer and require some excess investment, taping and tapering are lower risk approaches to ear lobe stretching and normally show favorable results.
More treacherous bygone techniques for lobe piercing enlargement have resurged in recent years however, such as weighting, which adopts the use of large heavy earrings or small weighted loops that stretch the piercing gradually as they dangle. Once practiced by tribal societies in Southeast Asia, this unique type of augmentation has been largely rejected due to the risk of thinning tissue. Unfortunately for most, only the bottom portion of pierced flesh will stretch, as the top and sides are not subjected to the force of the weight.
There are multiple methods of stretching ear lobe piercings, each with an interesting and unparalleled cultural history, but persons from all races and walks of life show a number of stretched subpopulations. Just one more way that body mod is connecting the human race.