I remember an ex-girlfriend telling me she needed another cat like a hole in the head. Well, I guess she’s not reading this, because I do need holes in my head, lots of them, and stretched to the breaking point. Eventually, I started wondering if any piercings besides the earlobes could be stretched. I remember a friend of mine putting some pretty heavy duty bars in his nipples, and so that got me thinking. Are there any types of piercings that shouldn’t be stretched? The short answer is yes, but I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who beg to differ. Let’s start with the easy part, the ones that can be stretched.
The most basic of the stretched piercings is the earlobe. You’ve seen it at the mall since you were a little kid, probably while your mother made disparaging comments about people who wear such awful things. The general rule of thumb when stretching a piercing is to wait at least three times as long as it took to heal before you start sticking larger objects in there. Another good maxim is to always listen to your body. Many people become impatient and start moving things along even though your body is screaming at you to stop. Always listen to your body. The last thing you want is to create scar tissue that makes stretching difficult and problematic. The earlobe is easy - to avoid injury, soak the tissue that is going to be stretched in hot water prior to inserting a larger piece. It’s kind of like warming up your muscles before you engage in strenuous activity. It helps the tissue to be malleable and accepting of the stretch.
If you’re planning to stretch your earlobes, you ought to start off with a 10g or 8g when you get pierced. After a period of 6-9 months, you will be ready for the first stretch. Once your gauges get fairly large, in the 4g-2g range, remember to use lighter jewelry like eyelets and plugs. One little factoid to keep in mind is that the 00g or roughly 10mm is considered the point of no return. So if you want your holes to ever close up to their original piercing size, don’t go above 00g.
The ear cartilage is a little different because it doesn’t have its own blood supply; all the blood comes from the skin and not the actual cartilage. This means stretching it will be an extremely slow process and a few issues can arise if you rush it. The tissue can become so tight that blood can’t pass from the skin to the cartilage, which can cause necrosis, and that is a disgusting mess. Tissue can even shatter, which is irreparable. So take the slow scenic route, otherwise, you could be left with a big problem.
Tongue stretching is becoming more popular, you just have to be aware that it can cause a great deal of discomfort. If you are planning to stretch it, get pierced with a larger gauge, because the pain is the same whether you go with a 14g or a 10g. Another popular area to stretch is the nipple. From what I hear, everyone who has nipple piercings loves them, and they are fun to stretch out. You can stretch nipples pretty far, but be sure to use lightweight jewelry, because the nipples tend to get knocked around more than other body parts, and heavy jewelry can cause scarring, migration, and rejection.
Some people think you shouldn’t stretch the genitals for fear of damaging these sensitive parts. However, the genitals are incredibly easy to stretch because of the high vascularity and fast recovery time. You can stretch your prince albert or labia faster than most other parts of the body.
Now, onto areas that are more difficult to stretch and maybe ought to be avoided. Let’s start with the septum. This piercing, when done right, is done through the skin, not cartilage. Even so, it can be near impossible to stretch, and if it works for you, it is likely to be fairly painful for days after the stretch. But if that sort of thing draws your interest, then by all means, it’s not like your nose is going to fall off. Another area that is difficult and maybe not ideal to stretch is the navel. This is because this area takes such a long time to heal. It often takes as long as 3-4 years before the navel is ready for a stretch. Keep in mind that a navel piercing is a surface piercing, so it requires more attention in terms of jewelry weight, the size of the jewelry, and the time it takes to heal.
One area that is not recommended to stretch is a cheek piercing. Unless you plan to venture into the realm of extreme body modification, stick with a smaller gauge. This is especially true if you plan to take it out someday, you don’t want your food falling out the side of your face as you chew it! I’ve also heard stories of people hitting salivary glands with cheek piercings, so it might be smart to stick with a narrow gauge when piercing the cheek. Other than that, have fun, push your boundaries, and take pride in your ability to take the pain.