Ear Stretching

Ear Stretching

What is ear stretching?

Ear stretching began thousands of years ago as a form of beauty enhancement. It’s still widely practiced today by communities like the Maasai in Kenya and the Huaorani in the Amazon.

The famous “ice man,” a well-preserved human body found in Germany in 1991 and dated to more than 6,000 years ago, appeared to have stretched earlobes.


What you need for ear stretching

The first thing to do is get an ear piercing. This is as simple as going to a reputable piercing shop, getting your ear pierced, and letting the piercing heal for a few months.

Choose a piercer with a license to pierce in your state. Tattoo artists and estheticians often receive extra training on piercings. There is a risk of hepatitis, HIV, and other diseases if a piercer doesn’t use clean equipment and processes.

After the piercing has fully healed, then you can get all the equipment you need to increase the size of your piercings.

You’ll need:

  • tapers
  • plugs
  • lubricant

Now that you’ve got all the materials you need, here’s how to do the actual stretching:

  1. Wait for your ear piercing to fully heal (no swelling, discharge, itching, etc.).
  2. Massage your earlobe to get the skin warmed up and stretched out. You can also take a hot bath or shower so blood flow to the ear is increased.
  3. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
  4. Sterilize all of your piercing equipment with rubbing alcohol.
  5. Lubricate your piercing and your taper from end to end.
  6. Begin pushing the taper through the hole, inserting the thinner side into the piercing first. Go slowly. If you experience any discomfort, you’ve done too much.
  7. Put your plug in at the thicker end of the taper so you can insert it into the stretched piercing immediately.
  8. Insert your plug into the hole once the taper goes all the way through.
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How to care for your ears during and after stretching

Once you’ve first started the stretching process, the most important part is to wait. If you stretch your ears too much and too fast, you can tear or injure your ear cartilage.

Here are some tips to care for your ears during the stretching process and after you’ve finally reached your desired gauge:

  • Wash your piercing at least twice a day with warm water and chemical-free soap.
  • Soak your earlobes at least twice a day in warm, clean water with about 1/4 tsp of salt for every 1 cup of water.
  • Massage your earlobes at least once a day with coconut oil, jojoba oil, or another safe oil to keep it moisturized and promote healing.
  • Wait at least 6 weeks between gauges, but keep an eye on your piercing. Don’t go up to the next gauge if you notice any redness, swelling, or irritation after 6 weeks. It may take longer based on your own healing process.
  • Don’t touch the piercing with dirty hands to avoid introducing bacteria.
  • Be careful not to get anything caught or stuck in the piercing that can pull or stretch it, like a loose thread.
  • Don’t worry about a little odor. A gauged ear can smell a little bit because of dead skin cells that can’t be flushed out of the piercing while you’re stretching. This is totally normal. But if the odor continues after washing, seek medical attention.

You shouldn’t see too much redness or swelling during the ear stretching process. If you do, you may have torn or damaged your ear skin. Make sure to follow your piercer’s aftercare directions. If you think you’re developing an infection, see your doctor.

A “blow out” happens when you stretch your ear too fast and scar tissue builds up in the hole. This can result in permanent scarring.

Stretching too quickly can tear your ear tissue in half or cause earlobe skin to detach and hang from your head.

Stretching too quickly or not taking care of your ear may also result in an infection. Here are some infection symptoms to watch out for:

  • painful redness or swelling
  • bleeding from the piercing
  • cloudy yellow or green discharge from the piercing
  • fever
  • lymph node swelling


There are a lot of different opinions on this topic, but the majority of professionals in the body modification industry recommend never going any larger than 2 - 0 gauge if you want your ears to totally close up where you can't see through them. Keep in mind though that everyone's anatomy is different, but the majority of people will be able to take their plugs out at 2 -0 gauge and your lobes will look normal after a 2 - 3 months of closing up.

There are also other factors that will affect the permanency of your size. One of the biggest factors is if you have stretched too fast and skipped sizes. When you skip sizes and stretch too fast then it actually will do more ripping of your skin than actual stretching, so this can make your holes much larger and more permanent in the long run. To optimize your chances of having normal looking lobes if you decide to take them out, then you will want to make sure not to skip sizes and wait at least a full month between each stretch.

If you have stretched to a really large size and decide that it is not for you, then there is always the option of surgery. Lobe reversal has become pretty popular these days so that is always an option to consider if you have stretched really large and want your lobes to look like the average person's.


Many people make the mistake of stretching too fast which can cause some long term damage to your lobes. Most professionals recommend waiting at least a full month between each stretch. A full month is generally enough to give your last stretch time to heal, and also to help your lobes loosen up a bit for the next stretch. The slower you go, the nicer your lobes will be in the long run though, so waiting even longer than a month is highly recommended. Even though the temptation is hard to resist sometimes when you are ready to stretch, it's always best to give it some time, you will thank yourself in the long run.

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