I have been asked lots of times whether or not it is possible to stretch a cartilage piercing to a 16 or 14 gauge if you were pierced with a 20 or 22 gauge. I want to share with you today that it is in fact possible, and pretty simple! Keep reading to learn how, and what methods to use!
When I got my very first cartilage piercing, I got pierced at Claire's with a gun at a 20 gauge. (HORRIBLE, I know, this was before I knew anything about piercings!) I got home and was so excited, I immediately got online and found some super cute labrets that I wanted to put in. Once they arrived, I realized that unfortunately the bar was way bigger than the earring I was pierced with! I put the jewelry aside and forgot about it for a while.
After the jewelry laid there for a few months, tempting me with its utter cuteness, I decided to try to put it in. In one long struggle, I pushed in the 16 gauge labret and went about my day. I must say, the pain was AWFUL and this prolonged the healing of my piercing for about a year longer than it should be, causing my cartilage piercing to take two years to finally settle, as the jewelry was externally threaded and such a jump from my initial earring! (And it want even healed yet in the first place 😬) I DO NOT recommend anyone to stretch their cartilage in this way!
But there are a few different, much safer, much less painful, methods that can be used to get your cartilage to the gauge desired size!
METHOD 1: Taper
I'm going to note here that for this method, your cartilage piercing must be fully healed before stretching!
The first thing you will need to do for this method is gather materials. You will need:
- water based lube
- taper (preferably surgical steel or titanium) in the correct size
- jewelry one gauge above your current size in either surgical steel or titanium
You will need to repeat this process for every gauge size that you want to increase. First, take a hot shower, and massage the area. This will help the cartilage stretch easier by pulling more blood into the area!
Next, once you're out of the shower of course, take the taper and try to insert it. If it doesn't easily go in, remove it and put the lube on the taper and on your ear! Gently insert the taper bit by bit until you get to the thickest end, then insert your new jewelry. This process may take up to 30 minutes, as it's important to take your time while stretching!
Once you've got the new jewelry in, you're all set! It is important to continue with proper aftercare while stretching. The piercing will be sore for a while, but once it's not sore you can taper up to the next gauge. There is really no limit how big you can get- I have seen a flat piercing that was gauged up to 5/8" (16mm) with a regular tunnel inserted! That may not be everyone's taste, but it's important to know that it is possible, if desired.
The stretching process takes a long time to get your desired size, but the timing ultimately depends on how many gauge sizes you want to increase. You must take your time with it!
METHOD 2: Re-pierce
Getting your cartilage re-pierced to your desired gauge is also an option, and is great if your end goal is a 16, 14, or 12 gauge piercing. Of course if you choose this method you'll go through the whole healing process over again, but your piercing doesn't need to be healed in the first place to do this!
METHOD 3: Punch
The last method to enlarge the size of your cartilage piercing is to have the piercing punched by a piercer. Think of a punch like a cookie cutter- it will remove the whole area of skin. This also requires perfect aftercare and a repeat of the healing process. If you're wanting a larger gauge cartilage, so you can wear a plug or a tunnel and you want it more quickly than tapering and working your way up, this is a great option.
If you decide to choose this method, be sure to thoroughly research a piercer! You will want to visit someone who has experience with this.
These methods are not limited to just your helix cartilage, they are applicable for any piercing that is through cartilage! You can stretch your tragus, conch, flat, as well as any helix piercing.
BUT, when stretching cartilage you need to be aware that once it heals, the stretch is permanent! It will not shrink back down to its original size.
I also wanted to note here that you can stretch septum and lobe piercings with these same methods. Septum piercings should be done through the flesh below the cartilage in your nose, not through the cartilage. If you got your septum pierced and it is through the cartilage then I would highly suggest not re-visiting that piercer!
If any of you are interested in purchasing a titanium taper, and proper jewelry so you can stretch your cartilage piercing we would be extremely pleased to custom order those for you and help you through the process, so just send us an email!
I hope that this helps you guys and allows you to reach the size you want so you can wear the jewelry you love!
Until Next Week,