January 20, 2004

A long and graphic lesson on the proper treatment of your ears.

It has come to my attention that a number of members of the Cement community are stretching their earlobes at breakneck speed. Rather, the stretching came to my attention some months ago, and then I finally did the math a couple of days ago and realized that there's quickness involved.

Wait, did you think I was going to tell you to stop? Hardly. I just want to share a few horror stories. You can think of me as the earlobe-stretching equivalent of those "Red Asphalt" videos they show you in driving school. Informative links are courtesy of the BME encyclopedia of risks.

Horror Story #1 is a cautionary tale on the subject of skipping gauges. Early on in my quest for ear expansion (about 2.5 years ago, in fact), I stretched from roughly 12g to 8g in one jump. Mind you, that's only skipping one gauge, which doesn't seem like much. I'd fallen in love with a pair of tapered corkscrew plugs from Industrial Strength, brought them home and found myself unable to wait. I lubed them up, twisted them slowly through my ears, and left them alone for a couple of days to adjust to the stretch. When I finally tried to wiggle them around a bit so I could clean my ears, the corkscrews slipped back out a ways, my ears welled up with blood from the tears I'd caused (which I think had been unable to bleed with the pressure of the plugs on them), and the holes closed down to a puffy, scabby, irritated 14g size. They stayed that way for a month before they were healed again.

Horror Story #2 is the story of "how much can Dianna push her luck?" Dianna pushed her luck to the point of re-doing the stretch to 8g a month after the initial stretch, then stretching to 5g about 3 weeks later, then stretching to 2g about 2 weeks after that. That was unwise. One of my ears blew out, and I failed to go back to smaller jewelry and let it heal properly, so the little wiggly lip of tissue on the back of my ear is still there 2 years later.

What probably should have happened at this point was catastrophic thinning, but it so happens that I'd started out with a relatively vast expanse of earlobe and was stretching piercings located well away from the edges of my lobes. So, I had room to continue stretching and did so (albeit slightly more slowly for a while).

On to Horror Story #3, then. This was a year and a half ago, when Doug and Lisa had just come home from Japan and Jacob, Jason and myself went to crash their party and stay in their new house for a few days. In a fit of creative genius a few days earlier, I'd made myself two pairs of lovely new twisty claws out of carefully sanded, smoothed and varnished Sculpey. I'd measured as best I could and they seemed to be about 1/2" in diameter; I was currently wearing 7/16" jewelry with 1/2" flares, so the new plugs should have fit like a dream. They turned out to be a little bit big, so since they had a nice taper to them I finagled the first pair of them most of the way through my ears and held them there with o-rings. I wasn't about to make the same mistake of the first time, of pushing them all the way through in one terribly damaging fell swoop. I left them there for a few days, working them a little further in as my ears stretched to accommodate them, until I could carefully pull them all the way through at the widest point of the jewelry. Success! I changed them out for the other pair, which I liked just slightly better, and we left for Oregon.

This is BAD. I shudder just thinking about it. While in Oregon I slept on my newly-slightly-stretched ears with jewelry in, since I knew if I took the claws out overnight they wouldn't go back in comfortably the next day (and I didn't have my old jewelry with me, so it was the claws or nothing). My ears were a little cranky, like I might possibly have torn them a bit in the stretching, but I left them alone and hoped for the best. Downsizing was not to be thought of! No!

One night, J&J&D&L & I were enjoying a lovely board game about trains when Jacob suddenly nudged me and told me my right claw had sort of turned around and was starting to fall out of my ear. I touched it and noticed that it felt wet, so I went to the bathroom to see what had happened. My new claw, with its less-than-perfectly-smooth-and-nonporous surface, was rotating its way out of my ear and taking the delicate and not-quite-healed skin inside my piercing with it. My ear was puffy and dripping bloody lymph, and my precious stretched hole was rapidly shrinking from the swelling of the ear around it. Gross! I went without jewelry for the rest of the trip, and when we got back I could barely manage to clear the solid dried goo from the piercing and fit a 10g ring in it. Once it stopped oozing there was room for 6g jewelry without putting pressure on my ear, but from there I had to wait and stretch back up slowly one gauge at a time all over again.

The point, my stretchy cement associates, is BE CAREFUL! Not everything that is possible in this process is advisable. You can get away with murder, but you can also really fuck that shit up. Take care of your ears; you only get one set and you've got all the time in the world to make them large and funny-looking. Mistreat the ears, and they'll be funny-looking in ways you never intended.

(Disclaimer: you may notice that in my profile picture I'm wearing the very same black claws that were featured in Horror Story #3. Since that event, I've sanded them down to a smaller diameter, and refinished them with a smoother surface. And if I ever use jewelry like that in newly-stretched ears again, may the Earlobe Gods strike me down on the spot.)

Posted by dianna at January 20, 2004 01:50 PM

ew, dood, ew.

don't worry though, mine are peachy keen happy and not thin, flappy, or torn. and still only at 2g. though i have 0g ready to put in whenever i make my lazy ass go over to gottsi.

Posted by: michele at January 20, 2004 06:45 PM

thank you for the thoughtful concern, my friend. rest assured, i am moving along a gauge at a time, with well over the recommended 6-8 weeks, or whatever it is, between stretches. in fact, my new fours slid in marvelously after having the sixes for a good 8 months. and with those stories, i promise to wait to get the gorgeous 2 gauge turquoise spirals at gottsi at least until summer. ok, maybe april.

Posted by: erica at January 20, 2004 07:16 PM

dude, as a non-cement-horizon person who is nevertheless committed to stretching her earlobes, i am taking your horror stories to heart. especially #3, which i had not heard before. you have a way with description that sends chills down my spine, or possibly lunch up my gullet.
and to think that mom thinks saying things like "you look like a lowlife", etc, are effective self-mod deterrents. she has nothing on you. fine, mom, FINE, III won't stretch my ears. i'll set aside a few extra bucks in my budget and get a professional to do it!

Posted by: katie at January 21, 2004 12:53 AM

i wasn't going to stretch my ears at all, but you have effectively deterred me from ever looking at your ears again either. agreed, katie: masterful description.

Posted by: didofoot at January 21, 2004 08:05 AM

ish... just plain, ish. Like Erica, I've been going along at a ridiculously slow pace, trusting the beautiful people at gotsi alone with my delicate lobes. I hadn't planned on changing my habits, but you have ensured that I'll stay true to my patient stretching path.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom, even if it has made us all nauseous.

Posted by: Jolie at January 25, 2004 02:38 PM

hey wat up i started out about 3 months ago with an 18 gage then 1 month later i got a 16 gage then a month after that i got a 14 gage now i have a 12 gage and it has come time to get a 10 gage but i dont like waiting i wanted to know if its ok to skip a gage and get an 8 gage insted

Posted by: camron at February 11, 2004 09:56 AM

*taps microphone* Hello? Is this thing on? Can anybody hear me?

I feel I may not be getting through here, somehow.

Posted by: dianna at February 11, 2004 12:57 PM

don't mock The Grom, dude.

Posted by: didofoot at February 11, 2004 02:16 PM

Oh, I'd never mock The Grom. But thegrom is another matter entirely.

Posted by: dianna at February 11, 2004 02:44 PM

Hay, I went from reg. earings to 14g tounge thingies, I dont' know much at all about streaching, but may go up to 12 just did it the other day, Anyones imput may help! I just liked the tounge things because they say pimp on them!
N.N. Mr. Pimpsta

Posted by: candy-ass at September 4, 2004 05:04 PM

I feel for you with that horror story#3 i just started a new school in texas and they made me take out my zeros i had just put in. its been about a month and i decided to say FUCK THE SYSTEM and re-stretch i noy have jach in the box straws in and i can't wait for a confrontation with the principal so i can give him a piece of my mind.


Posted by: Dylan at September 23, 2004 08:03 AM

Well!! Im glad i looked at this page, cuz i just took my 14 to a 12, 2 days ago. and i was tryign to get them up to an 8... and it wasnt working. wooo glad i read this! THANKS!!

Posted by: Brooke at October 11, 2004 06:16 PM

i just went from a 14 to a 12 to a 10 in a week, and each time i stretched they jewelry slid right in, my ears are a little sore but look healthy and clean, but i am gonna wait a while to go to an 8, thanks man

Posted by: adam at October 24, 2004 11:06 PM

you people are stupid i went froma saftey pin to a 0 in a month with no thinning blow outs or tearing i did 14 to 10 to 4 to 2 to 0

Posted by: Dan at January 7, 2005 08:28 AM

Uh huh. You know a safety pin isn't 14g, right? That's leaving aside the fact that it's also not a piercing needle or safe to use as jewelry.

Posted by: Dianna at January 7, 2005 09:32 AM

it is too safe! it's right there in the name.

Posted by: michele at January 7, 2005 09:52 AM

*snaps fingers* Oh my god, you're right. How could I have missed that?

Posted by: Dianna at January 7, 2005 10:01 AM

It has taken me about a year to get to 7/16" with a little pause due to a 6 month stint in a country i like to call Afghanistan. Trust me do not skip gauges or rush anything, also I personally have found that if you do go up in size an some tearing occurs (assuming that you waited until the previous size was healed to the point where you take it out for extended periods of time without problems getting it back in, and without discomfort) than I take the larger size out and replace it with the previous gauge until it heals up. Wash the ear and the jewelery constantly with plain Dial soap. I then try and put the larger size it and have found it is alot easier than before.
Also if possible use a taper at the end of a shower while you are still in it. Also let it breathe every once in a while. My job prevents me from wearing my plugs for at least twelve hours a day, i feel this gives my ears a chance to heal naturally.
Think of it like a scrap on your knee, if you keep a band-aid on it constantly than it doesnt breathe and wont heal, but if you give it air than it heals alot quicker.

Posted by: Don the annimator at January 22, 2005 08:01 PM

Blow outs suck. Don't trust professionals either. A guy I knew did mine and he ruined my ears for life!! He's liscenced and everything. I was at a small, comfortable 2g, he got them to 0's, then I waited a month and when he got them to 00g's, they tore. You can still get them bigger, I'm now a 7/16 and going up...but for everyone unsure, read up about it, ask questions and do it yourself.

Posted by: Ram at January 29, 2006 12:26 PM

.. I just got my new tapers from hottopic.
6, 4, and 2 gauge . i had 10 gauges in my ears. and now i keep trying to put the 6 gauge in but it keeps getting infected. it sucks because i really want it done, so im going to wait a bit, and get an 8 gauge. to make the process simpler.. u should not skip gauges...

Posted by: Kim at May 1, 2006 03:32 PM

dude im still only ata 2ga and i was wondering..do torn ears ever heal cuz my left ear lightly tore and my right isnt ..i dont want htem to look different whene i take them out when i have to geta job so i was wonderin ...do torn ears heal and if they do does it take longer than normal

Posted by: ian at December 7, 2006 10:56 PM

I have a question about stretching my ears. I am at a 12 now and have been for 2 months. I am ready for a 10 gage and for some reason am unable to get it in? I have not had any trouble until now. Is there some kind of lube I need to use or just wait longer?

Posted by: Kasaundra at December 8, 2006 09:08 PM

wow, I wish I would have read this sooner. Im at a 00 and I gauged fast as hell, I went from a 4 to a 0 but it looks okay. and last night I tried putting a 7/16's hourglass through and it kinda ripped my ear a little. I hope that doesn't hurt anything.

Posted by: Killa cam at February 5, 2007 08:01 AM

i just stretched my ears last night to i think an 10 or 8. from NOTHING!
like i rushed it, & this morning they are a little swollen & hurt a little bit..
is that normal?

Posted by: Shaakerrr <3 at March 18, 2007 10:41 AM