Ear & Body Piercing/Catbutt


QUESTION: Ok..I thought I was "ready" to go to the 1/2 from "00"...they were loose enough I thought and the 1/2 taper felt like it slid right through with little resistance. However after 36 hrs. I was really swollen with lots of discomfort. I removed my gauges completely and have began to treat with organic lavender oil. How will I know it is OK to put gauges back in and what size should I start with? Should I put a smaller gauge in to keep it open or leave out completely until healed. I feel so stupid.


ANSWER: Hello Berna,
As you note, the difference in surface area was too great between 00g (which is 3/8") and 1/2".

Your best solution is to drop down to your original size, 00g, and wait until you are well.

My colleagues put together a helpful guide for you:

Ear Stretching Guide
By A.j. Goldman on Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Written by AJ Goldman - 12 Ounce Studios - www.PiercingsByAJ.com
and Sarah Wooten - Immaculate Piercing - www.ImmaculatePiercing.com

Here is a little guide to help you along while stretching your piercings. The majority of these tips will especially help while stretching earlobes in particular, and the advice or time frames may be different for different piercings. This guide is a collection of suggestions from reputable body piercers, this should not be construed as, or used as a substitution for, medical advice. Things may be different in your circumstance because everyone's body is different!

First things first is jewelry quality. Stick with implant grade materials such as ASTM F138 steel or ASTM F136 titanium, glass, and also certain stones have proven to be safe to stretch with. Avoid lower quality metals (especially ones sold in common mall chain stores), avoid stretching or even wearing acrylic jewelry, avoid stretching with organics such as woods, and avoid stretching with silicone! All jewelry for initial stretches should be single flared or no flared. DON'T STRETCH WITH DOUBLE FLARED JEWELRY!!

Second thing would be time frame in between stretches because so many people get this part wrong. We generally recommend waiting a minimum of 6-8 weeks in between each stretch although you might find yourself having to wait 3 months or longer. The big thing here is to listen to your body. If you're noticing pain or any sort of bleeding, you're stretching too quickly. If this happens, stop, downsize to your previous size and just wait longer.

A common mistake when stretching is the use of tapers. You shouldn't need tapers to stretch your earlobes so avoid stretching kits, chances are they're coming with low quality jewelry anyway. Tapers are a tool used by professional body piercers to assist with jewelry insertions. Stretching piercings at home with tapers can often lead to stretching too quickly which will likely cause tearing, excess scar tissue and/or blowouts. Also, keep in mind that tapers are not jewelry. Wearing a taper as a piece of jewelry will cause a lot of pressure on the back and bottom of your lobe and can cause it to thin out.

Another method for stretching would be the "taping" method. This method involves wrapping a thin layer of PTFE or bondage tape around the jewelry every so often to help slowly increase the size of the jewelry and thus, your piercing. In most cases, this can be completely unnecessary and should be avoided. There is no known documentation that states that any type of tape is safe to be worn inside of the body. It should also be noted that using any sort of tape as a method of stretching is going against manufacturer’s instructions.  

Some tips along the way include frequent massaging. When your piercing has healed enough after your most recent stretch to the point where you can comfortably remove your jewelry for at least a few minutes at a time, it is greatly beneficial to gently massage the tissue. Holey Butt’r is a great product to use for massaging. Other alternatives would be jojoba oil, coconut oil, etc. Be sure to avoid oils which you may have an allergy to. If you are unsure, consult with your doctor or dermatologist before using any of these products. Massaging works so well because it helps increase blood flow to the area and helps promote new cell growth. Another great tip is to not be afraid to purposely downsize. Although you're probably eager to get to your goal size, downsizing can be a great option to keep your lobes thick and healthy. Once the piercing is healed, wearing heavier jewelry such as stone or glass plugs can also help the stretching process. However, it should also be noted that wearing heavier hanging jewelry can lead to uneven stretching or thinning of the tissue at the bottom of the lobe.

Overall, the best method for stretching we've found is time. The longer you wait in between stretches, the easier it should be and the healthier your piercings will be in the long run. Stretching should be a long and slow process. Enjoy the ride, no need to rush. Each size has its benefits and different types of jewelry selections. If you should have any questions regarding stretching your piercing, feel free to ask in this group or of course you could ask your local reputable body piercer.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: There seems to be a lot of swelling a soreness...how important is it to get jewelry back into the piercing at this point? Should I wait till the soreness and swelling dissipate completely? Is it OK for me to go completely without anything in my piercing while it is healing? (I could get my professional gauges 06-08 and work in if necessary.)
I did try to work a "0" stone plug into place and it was too uncomfortable and would have been forcing it in.....I have been using Lavender Oil and olive oil several times a day....some peroxide initially, but just the oils now.  


I'd just put in whatever single flare jewelry you have that does fit and is made of a safe material as listed here: http://piercingexp.com/faq/quality-jewelry.html such as 2 or 4g.

Then, wait until your larger jewelry does fit easily. It should loosen back up in a few days. If it is not comfortable, just leave the jewelry out until is recovers, and make sure not to rush getting back to the size.

Ear & Body Piercing

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Brian Skellie


I can answer questions in regards to and not limited to: jewelry safety, specifically material, shape, proportion, and related issues; aseptic technique and sterilization as it applies to piercing safety; ethical issues of technique and bedside manner; the aftercare and recovery process for piercings. *Available for consultation.


Body artist and founder of Piercing Experience (1992), http://brnskll.com/ and SciCan Authorized Dealer of STATIM Sterilizers and related infection control products http://statim.us/

Currently serving on the APP Board of Directors as President, formerly as Global Media Director 2013-2014, International Liaison 2010-13, Treasurer 1997-99. Over fifteen years with ASTM and APP.

The Point Journal of the Association of Professional Piercers, USA Today, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta Magazine, Creative Loafing

I regularly participate and teach in many APP and related body art educational programs. I keep current certifications for OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens, First Aid, and CPR.

Awards and Honors
APP President's Award, Best Freehand Piercer, Best of Atlanta

Past/Present Clients
Tens of thousands of one on one client experiences as the founder of Piercing Experience in Atlanta, GA, USA http://www.piercing.org/ *Body jewelry design and safety expert: Member ASTM committee F04(www.astm.org)and former Member AAMI (www.aami.org) Research advisor and educator for the APP for over a decade(www.safepiercing.org) teaching advanced studio setup, sterilization and equipment management, freehand piercing, aseptic/sterile technique and much more. Distributor and Body Art expert for SciCan StatIM sterilization and infection control products. http://statim.us/ and http://piercers.com/

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