How to Stretch a Piercing

Any piercing can be stretched to a larger size. How fast you can stretch depends on the body part, and your skin's elasticity. Jewelry sizes are measured in gauges, millimeters, and eventually inches. Gauges go down by even numbers; the higher the number, the smaller the jewelry (8g is next largest size after 10g.) After 00g, most jewelry is measured in inches or millimeters. (The next size after 00 is 7/16")


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    Be sure you've washed your hands with antibacterial soap before touching the jewelry or the fistula (piercing hole)
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    Stretch one size at a time. Sizes go down in number, by two's (for example, 12g to 10g, etc). You will regret it if you do not as you will cause scar tissue and a blowout.
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    Use a water based lubricant or a specialized stretching oil. Do not use vaseline or anything else that will clog up the piercing and trap bacteria. (Do NOT use Neosporin!)
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    Never use acrylic/silicone/kaos/collapsible plugs or tunnels to stretch, they will irritate your piercing and more often than not tear your ear.
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    Use a Taper to Stretch.
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    Sea salt soak the area to draw out any possible infections.


  • Gently tugging on or playing with your jewelry will help your piercing loosen faster. Steel, stone, and glass are slightly heavier than titanium, bone, wood, or horn and can help your skin loosen.
  • A hot shower will help loosen your piercing before stretching.
  • Don't wear organic (wood, bone, etc) or acrylic for a least a month after stretching. Acrylic should not be worn for long periods of time. Some people disagree about whether silicone is ok for a fresh stretch, to be safe it should be avoided for the first month.
  • Do not use double flared jewelry to stretch with. Use only single flare, straight plugs, or other smooth jewelry. Internally threaded barbells are better than externally threaded ones, since the threads can damage the inside of your piercing as they go through. Double flares are for healed piercings that have loosened, The flares on most Double Flare jewelry are usually one size larger.
  • Use only body jewelry and tapers, never homemade materials to stretch your piercings. The best materials are surgical implant grade steel or titanium, glass, and PTFE. Don't use pinchers as tapers. Do not wear tapers as jewelry, they're meant to be inserted and removed within minutes.
  • Wait 1-3 months between stretches, after 8g (3mm) wait at least 3-5 months. The longer you wait, the easier your stretch will be.
  • Going up sizes by slowly adding layers of bondage tape to your plugs is a slower and safer way of doing it, if you've had trouble stretching even if you've waited a long time between sizes. Only use bondage tape because it doesn't stick to anything but itself so it's safe to be in your ear. Take a warm shower and clean your piercing and your ear before you stretch. The steam from the shower will help the skin stretch easier.


  • Stretching too fast, or skipping gauges can cause your skin to tear. If your stretch is bleeding, or has lymph fluid which makes a crust, downsize your jewelry to a smaller gauge, and use saline solution to clean it with. Make a weak solution of sea salt and hot water, and soak your piercing for 5-10 minutes. Rinse your skin with clean water afterward. Do this at least daily until it's healed. Too much salt can cause more harm than good, the solution should taste like tears.
  • Blowouts are when the inside of the piercing, the fistula, is pushed outside, and forms a "lip". They happen from forcing a stretch before your piercing is ready, or skipping sizes. To heal a blowout, downsize and do oil massages. Insert your jewelry from the back to help push the fistula back in. Blowouts can permanently heal if not treated, and will need minor surgery to be removed.
  • Weights are not a good idea to stretch your piercings, as it puts pressure on the bottom only, and can cause thinning. Weight earrings are for short periods of time, a few hours to half a day at most. Wearing heavier materials will help your holes loosen faster, but heavy weights are a bad idea.
  • Stretching should be considered permanent. There is a good chance that a piercing will shrink after stretching, but no guarantee. Don't stretch if you aren't willing to stay at that size. Stretching past 2g (6mm) is usually considered the "point of no return", but for some it's smaller, for others larger.
  • Scar tissue comes from damage while stretching. It makes future stretches harder, and looks bad. Do oil massages to reduce scar tissue, downsize if the scarring is severe. A piercing that looks very wrinkly (cat butt) is probably due to scar tissue.
  • Piercing guns are unsafe, and traumatic, compared to needles. For the safest and most painless piercing, go to a professional piercer that you trust. Make sure they use new needles, or autoclave all their materials.
  • Cartilage piercings should not be stretched using the above steps. Larger cartilage piercings, such as an inner conch, are generally pierced at the desired gauge. Stretching may result in the formation of keloids.[1]

Things You'll Need

  • Body jewelry one size larger than your current jewelry.
  • A taper or PTFE tape
  • Lubricant, preferably vitamin E, emu, or jojoba oil.
  • Patience

Article Info

Categories: Tattoos and Piercing