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Terms & Conditions

Stretching in the context of body piercing, is the deliberate expansion of a healed hole in the skin for the purpose of wearing body piercing jewelry.

Ear piercings are the most commonly stretched piercings, with nasal septum piercings, tongue piercings and lip piercings/lip plates following close behind.

All piercings can be stretched to some degree, however. Cartilage piercings are usually more difficult to stretch and more likely to form hypertrophic scars or keloids if stretched quickly. Healing is very important in between stages of stretching.

Stretching is usually done in small increments to minimize the potential for damaging the healed fistula or creating scar tissue. In North America, most stretching methods go up by a single even-sized gauge at a time. In Europe and most of the rest of the world, jewelry is metric, but the increments between standard sizes are similar.

Stretching methods

There are several common methods used to enlarge piercings, of various origins and appropriate for different circumstances.

Please note that, no matter the method used, any individual who is stretching their piercing should wait at least one month between each stretch--more at sizes above 4mm, and up to 3-4 months at sizes above 10mm. Blood that results from stretching is a sign to wait longer until the fistula heals completely. The healing process after a tear will also take at least one month.

Failure to follow this timeline, particularly with earlobe piercings, will result in puckered lobes, thin lobes, and can cause lobes to tear apart completely. Stretching earlobes is considered to be a permanent modification, as it is possible that even only slightly stretched earlobes will never return to their original size. It is for this reason that one should stretch slowly and carefully, or face surgery to reconstruct the scarred flesh that is the result of impatience.

  • Tapering — The most common professional technique for stretching piercings, tapering involves the use of a taper, a conical rod usually made specifically for this purpose. It is lubricated and pushed through the fistula until the widest part of the taper is level with the skin surrounding the piercing. Larger jewelry is then pushed through, parallel to the back of the taper. Tapers come in a variety of sizes and are usually identified by the gauge of the large end. They can vary in length, but most tapers are about 2-3 inches (approx. 5-7 centimetres). Most tapers are made of surgical steel or acrylic and some have threads extending from the wide end to allow the attachment of barbell jewelry, to make insertion easier. Improvised objects like knitting needles and porcupine quills are sometimes used as tapers by people stretching at home; however, is not recommended by professionals, as their gauge cannot be exactly determined. Additionally, tapers should not be worn as jewelry, as the weight behind the earlobe will cause uneven stretching and unnecessary stress on the lobe.
  • Teflon tape stretching — The existing jewelry is removed and a thin layer of non-adhesive Teflon tape, which is inert and safe for piercing use, is wrapped around the jewelry. The jewelry is then re-inserted, and as the piercing adapts to the new diameter of jewelry, the process is repeated with the next application of tape being thicker than the previous one. This is done until the fistula has stretched enough to accept new jewelry altogether. It is highly recommended to use jojoba oil, emu oil, or other moisturizing oils to facilitate this process, as the tape can dry out a fistula very quickly. This is the safest way to stretch piercings and is recommended by most professionals.
  • Weights — Large, heavy jewelry or weighted objects can be used to stretch piercings. This method is not widely used in modern-day, as it tends to cause piercings to migrate and can, especially in ears, lead to a thinning of tissue that is disfiguring or requires reconstructive surgery. However, it is a method that has been traditionally utilized by various tribes, such as the Dayaks in Borneo, that practice extreme earlobe elongation.
  • Silicone Plugs — These plugs are soft and malleable, allowing a relatively large plug to be inserted into the fistula. Once folded and inserted into the ear, they expand, stretching the earlobe. However, stretching with silicone is often a foolish decision. Its not recommended to use silicone plugs to stretch with, due to the tacky surface. The stretched fistula can adhere to the silicone, and silicone is airtight, which can trap infection and cause it to spread internally. Also silicone will expand and contract in temp. change. In heat they can swell which can potentially blow out a newly stretched fistula.

Health issues

There are few health issues directly related to stretching piercings. Most stretching methods do not create a wound, and properly stretched piercings will heal after stretching, although if an individual's skin elasticity and vascularity allow, most piercings can be stretched far beyond their initial size. Most people class 12.7mm as the "point of no return" as over 12.7 mm will never recover fully, However, each person's tissue will differ, and many variables—such as a person's age, length of time taken to stretch, time fully healed at a particular size, skin elasticity, and scar tissue formation, amongst others—can affect the ability of the skin not only to stretch, but also to close up.

If taken beyond the body's ability to stretch, or if done improperly, damage caused can require minor surgery to repair, or may not be repairable. Blowouts from over -stretching, especially ones caused by "dead stretching", can create scar tissue, which can lead to keloiding or hypertrophic scarring. Stretching too quickly, or skipping from one smaller gauge to a gauge more than one size larger, can cause bleeding and infection and eventually lead to a buildup of scar tissue. Scar tissue is more difficult to stretch than unharmed skin, and can make further stretching difficult.

However, application of Bio oil(vegan), emu oil, vitamin E, Jojoba oil, or other similar oils can reduce the size of blowouts and enhances the circulation of blood flow going to the skin around the stretched fistula, thickening the flesh and allowing more elasticity and a healthier piercing. Additionally, downsizing--moving from a larger size to a smaller size intentionally--can help build collagen in the earlobe, which will thicken the lobe, reduce the puckered appearance of earlobes that have been stretched too quickly, and keep earlobes healthy.

Jewellry for stretched piercings

There is a large variety of jewelry available for stretched piercings. Many jewelry materials can be used in the manufacturing of jewelry for stretched piercings; materials that would ordinarily be too delicate or brittle to be inserted in smaller gauge piercings are freely used. Stone, fossilized materials, wood, bone, horn, amber, bamboo, silicone, and glass are not uncommon in stretched piercings. Many of these materials "breathe" better than metals or plastics, preventing the buildup of sebum in the enlarged ear lobe. Jewelry is still often made of acrylic or metal, however.

The typical jewelry worn in a large stretched piercing is a plug. It is solid and usually cylindrical, and may be flared out at one or both ends (saddle-shaped), or kept in place by o-rings fastened around the ends. A variation on this is the flesh tunnel, which is shaped in the same way, but hollow in the middle. Claw-, talon-, and spiral-shaped pieces are also commonplace. Ear-weights in varying degrees of size are also worn, commonly made from silver or bronze, though other metals such as copper or brass are occasionally used. However, some people's piercings are easily irritated by some metals; therefore, care should be taken when metal jewelry is worn. Ear cuffs (such as the gold ones utilized in South India provinces) or wrapped bead work (common amongst the Maasai of East Africa) are other options, though are not usually seen in modern Western contexts.

History and culture

Stretched piercings are probably almost as old as piercing itself. Earlier versions of all modern stretching techniques are known to exist, in one degree or another. Evidence from statuary, especially in Asia, shows us that stretched earlobes were common thousands of years ago and the practices of many African and South American tribes today include stretched lip piercings, some of phenomenal size.

In contemporary times, the re-emergence of body piercing in the developed world has been accompanied in an interest in stretched piercings. Much of this activity was initially associated with the modern primitive movement, but like piercing in general, it has become a more mainstream activity, common amongst young people and members of many subcultures as an identifier and due to its aesthetic appeal to the masses.

Below is a rough chart showing the diffrent sizes of jewellery used for piercing etc.

When measuring and buying jewellery there are a few thing you need to know in order for your jewellery to fit correctly.
 
All UK jewellery is talked about in MM (millimetres).
 
Gauge or thickness this relates to how thick the piece of jewellery is that goes though the piercing, the chart below shows the standard sizes in which piercing jewellery is made.
 
ID (internal diameter) is the inner size of a piece of jewellery, so a ring is measured across its widest point so the ring might be 12mm id.
This means that the widest part of the ring is 12mm.
A barbell in measured between the two balls and a banana bell is also measured between the two balls.
Jewellery is never measured end to end, i.e. if you had a barbell and you included the balls on the end in the measurement it would make it far too long.

Gauge
Millimeters
Inches
18g
1.0 mm
5/128"
16g
1.2 mm
3/64"
14g
1.6 mm
1/16"
12g
2 mm
5/64"
10g
2.4 mm
3/32"
8g
3.2 mm
1/8"
6g
4 mm
5/32"
4g
5 mm
3/16"
2g
6 mm
1/4"
0g
8 mm
1/3"
00g
10 mm
3/8"
 
11 mm
7/16"
 
12.7 mm
1/2"
 
14 mm
9/16"
 
16 mm
5/8"
 
19 mm
3/4"
 
22 mm
7/8"
 
25 mm
1"

 Removing Your Jewellery


If your piercing is unsettled or under 10 weeks old, do not attempt to change it yourself.

To remove a banana/belly bar:

Wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap: Tightly hold the large bottom ball inside the navel. Turn the small ball at the top anticlockwise with your other hand, to remove the ball. You may find that wearing rubber gloves will help. Clean any dried matter off the tapped end before gently pulling is through the piercing.


To remove a ball closure ring:

With a ring push the ball out of the centre with your thumb whilst holding the ring tightly with both hands. If this proves difficult refrain from trying and get a professional piercer to show you how to do it. Rings can be very tight and sometimes it is difficult to remove them. A piercer uses a special tool, pliers which work in reverse, when the handles are squeezed the ends come outwards against the inside of the ring opening it up. These can be purchased from automobile and tool shops. Often they are called circlip pliers.
 
 Replacing Your Jewellery
Wash your jewellery first with liquid antibacterial soap or a mild disinfectant. Then clean hot salty water (sea salt only), before thoroughly rinsing. Remove the small ball and smear some KY Gel or antiseptic cream on to the threaded end. (This is just a lubricant for changing jewellery; it should not be used at any other time.) Gently push the bar or ring through the piercing from the inside of the navel. Once the metal appears at the other end screw the ball tightly, or with a ring line up the indents of the ball with the ends of the ring and push into place. If you have problems changing your jewellery, do not disrupt your piercing get a piercer to help. Remember your piercing will begin to close very quickly if the jewellery is removed.
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