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The method of stretching piercings is designed to deliberately expand the piercing to a desired size in order to wear larger-sized jewellery.  This procedure is also sometimes called ‘gauging up’. Ear piercings are probably the most common area that is stretched. Other common areas for stretching piercings include the tongue, nose, septum and lips.

The taper is one of the most common instruments used in stretching piercings. Tapers are metal or acrylic shafts with one end having a gauge and then gradually tapering down into a smaller point at the other end. The larger the area, the more time it takes.  Lubricant is first applied on the taper before it is slowly inserted into the existing piercing. Lubricants are extremely significant as they help reduce friction and make the process less painful. It also significantly reduces the possibility of tissue damage commonly associated with stretching. However, not all lubricants are suitable for this procedure. Water-based lubricants should be avoided in the most cases as they are likely to be absorbed too quickly. There is only one place where water-based lubricants might be useful – in the mouth area. Petroleum-based lubricants are also ineffective and even harmful when used in stretching piercings; they are quite hard to remove and can even cause irritation or bacterial infection.

When stretching piercings it is wise to seek a trained professional in order to prevent any infection or damage.  Similarly, people who are planning to go through the stretching method should pay close attention to how their bodies respond to the procedure. It is recommended to wait two weeks before getting the area wet but special cleansing should be undertaken to keep it clean and free of infection.  This is extremely important when stretching piercings in order to preserve the look you are after and to keep it healthy.

Even after stretching piercings, special care is required.  After the piercing has healed there is a possibility that the skin has become thin, making it susceptible to irritation, infection, damage and scar tissue formation. Therefore, stretching body piercings should be done gradually and in stages using aseptic techniques, more so in the case of expanding the piercing by more than one size.  In general, piercers will recommend that you wait at least six weeks before you start wearing jewellery that puts too much pressure on the area.  After stretching piercings, as always, jewellery that is safe and made of the correct materials is recommended.

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