How to properly stretch your piercings yourself
No matter you intentions, stretching your piercings takes time and patience.
How to do this yourself, wisely:
Most importantly, do it slowly, patiently and in small steps.
Secondly you have to wait at least 2 months between each step. Three months is even better.
Be patient, make sure your skin is fully healed before you go on with the next step. Use some form of water based lubricant and be patient. Refrain from stretching with acrylics and don’t use silicone or ear weights to stretch your piercings.
Silicone is tacky, thus your skin cannot move freely on the surface and stretch evenly, this way it also can’t heal properly. This material is fine to wear in healed piercings but not to stretch with. Ear weights are fine and make great jewelry, but they are intented to be worn in moderation. When you wear this type of jewelry it will stretch on only one side of your skin and create a weak spot with all the consequences it may bring.
Do not wear tapers (stretchers, expanders, spacers or what you may call it nowadays) as jewelry. They are not jewelry, even if they are worn and sold that way. They put uneven pressure on your piercing what will stretch the skin unevenly as well and will weaken some spots to a level that will weaken spots on your skin severely. During sleeping the taper could get caught on the sheets and pulled without you noticing it which could put extra strain on the freshly stretched skin. If you can’t afford tape, proper tapers nor proper jewelry, it’s probably best for you to wait to start stretching until you have the means to do it properly and safely.
When you are going further than 0g, it might be smarter to switch from tapers to tape. This because small sizes tapers differ one millimeter, but when you start using tapers of bigger sizes these start stepping from sizes that already differ 2mm each times. Often 2 mm is too big a step and the chances of blowouts and other mishaps gets bigger.
When you stretch your skin. You weaken the collagen within the skin. Your body needs time to restore these collagen molecules. If you rush it and don’t wait long enough to stretch further you will stretch the skin cells too far apart. Collagen is what makes you skin elastic if you will. When the collagen has had no time to heal, your skin loses collagen and becomes weak, thin and rips easy. This is often very hard to restore.
When you’ve past 00G it’s smart to remove your jewelry at night. This way your skin can relax and stimulate blood circulation.
Massage your skin daily with jojoba oil, avocado oil, emu oil, extra virgin olive oil or vitamin e oil. Do this 2 or 3 times a day for the best results. For example when you put you plugs back in in the morning and when you remove them at night. It can also help restore weak spots but this too needs time.
Downsize every once in a while. Yes, I said downsizing. When you let them shrink a bit and re-stretch them the right way, you stimulate collagen growth and promote strengthening of your skin.
Wear high quality jewelry. Cliche but oh so true. If you can’t afford this I would discourage stretching all together until you can afford the right materials so nothing can go wrong.
In case anything goes wrong and you’re left with a blowout or a tear or pain, blood or all of the above, remove the jewelry at once and re-insert you previous size jewelry. Leave it to heal properly before you try again and learn from this experience. Treat it once or twice daily with warm saline soaks to help with the healing.
If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong. Stretching should at worst be stinging a little, a slightly burning sensation. If it’s bleeding, you’re doing it wrong. Never force stretching. If your skin is not ready yet you have to give it another week and try again.
Never stretch your piercings with organic materials such as bone, horn, wood, stone… this material is porous. Don’t use acrylics or silicone for stretching either. Organics are not bad for you but just not good enough for stretching. Porous means your skin can stick to the material, but also that bacteria can stay in the microscopic tears and holes (pores) of the jewelry and this way cause irritations and (probably deadly serious) infections and certainly not promote healing you recently stretched skin.
How big can I stretch my piercings and keep the option to shrink them back smaller again?
It depends on many factors. How much sun has touched your skin, how old you are, how healthy you’re living, how fast you’ve stretched in the first place…
After a stretching you should let your skin recover for a couple months. During this period of time you should leave the jewelry alone. This mostly takes a week or 6. Only after that, your skin will be healthy enough to be able to sustain the pressure of another stretching step.
How much you can stretch also depends on the size you’re at right now. If you already have a big gauge size, 14 or 16 mm diameter for example, next size would be 15 or 17 mm diameter, which is, in the same proportions, quite a bit bigger than the steps between 1.2 and 1.6 mm.
Always handle your stretched skin carefully and hygienicly, even if it’s not an open wound it does behave that way.
Never stretch irritated or sensitive skin.
The jewelry you wear in your freshly stretched skin are really mostly the same materials that you wear in freshly pierced skin: implant grade ASTM F138 316L or 316LVM steel, ASTM F136 implant grade titanium, ptfe, 14 krt gold, niobium, pyrex glass.
Because stretched skin has a bigger surface, you will have more sebum discharge and also a bit more smelly goo. Once your stretched skin is fully healed you can regularly take out your jewelry and wash the skin and the jewelry with soap and water. Make sure you rinse it well, no soap residue should be left behind.
Sebum discharge is often less noticeable when wearing organics. Why? No idea, it just seems to be the case with most people.