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Ear Stretching

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How to properly stretch your earlobes with the help of a professional piercer

Ear stretching, also referred to as gauging, is the deliberate process of increasing the size of your ear piercing. The popularity and appeal of stretched ears/earlobes has risen in the last couple of years. What was once considered a trend amongst those in the subcultural world, plugs and tunnels and gauged earrings in stretched lobes are becoming a common and more frequent sight on the streets. While some popular retail stores and websites offer tapers and plugs in various sizes for home ear stretching, it is highly recommended to seek help from a professional piercer, as only piercers can provide sterile equipment that has been properly autoclaved. 

While there are ways to disinfect and sanitize a taper, there is no way to sterilize the equipment without an autoclave, which uses high pressure steam to kill any microorganism and bacteria. Sanitization will get rid of some of these microorganisms, but will never leave your equipment 100 percent sterile, especially due to non-resistant bacterial spores. 

Infections are caused by the presence of bacteria in the surrounding area of broken skin. As ear stretching essentially creates micro-tears in your epidermis, the chance of infection is high with the insertion of non-sterile tapers, plugs and tunnels into your newly stretched ears. Your ear may be infected if you experience swelling, tenderness and redness; you also may also notice bleeding and discharge in the area. 

A reputable piercer always ensures that stretching will be done with the appropriate taper in a completely clean environment. The piercing artist can measure your current piercing and use the correct-sized equipment and right method to gauge your ears safely and effectively, as blowouts are also a common risk among those who decide to stretch their ears themselves. A blowout is when a small flap of skin inside a piercing gets pushed out—it is the result of gauging and jumping sizes too quickly. Infections and blowouts could prevent future stretches, as thin earlobes and scarring create difficulties. 

The best thing you could do for your stretched earlobes is to keep them clean and healthy. While the most sterile piercing professional can provide the most germ-free methods and situate you with the greatest disinfected gauged earrings; without proper aftercare, all that means nothing. Just as your new piercings got soaked in sea salt, every stretch should be given the same attention. Two to three days after a session should be dedicated to sea salt soakings to facilitate a clean gauge and healing. 

The body modification industry is a big proponent of antibacterial and micro anti-bacterial soaps—preferably mild and fragrance-free. Frequently washing your plugs with these soaps is very highly recommended—almost mandatory—as well as changing your bed sheets and pillow cases often during the first few days of a stretching. Once your new gauges heal enough, you should further take out your plugs and wash them regularly.