WARNING – this is NOT a guide on how to stretch your own piercing – always get professional advice and never do this yourself!

Stretching piercings

The stretching of piercings (also stretching) refers to the intended enlargement of the puncture channel of a piercing in order to be able to wear piercing jewellery with a larger diameter.

Mostly this practice is carried out during the lobe piercing, in principle, however, each piercing can be extended to a certain diameter. In the case of Prince Albert, it is even recommended that the piercing be widened to increase wearing comfort and prevent possible outgrowth. Cartilage piercings are usually more difficult to stretch and can form bulging scars if stretched too quickly. Also problematic is the broadening of surface piercings, as they are exposed to a strong tension. In order not to hurt the puncture channel, it is usually stretched in small steps.


To enlarge a piercing, there are different methods of different origin and for different purposes. The simple stretching of the puncture channel usually requires a little patience, since the tissue between steps requires several weeks to loosen up and not tear down on further expansion. The stretched stitch channel forms after removing the jewellery, however, after some time back by a few millimeters. The incision of the canal, however, is more painful and can only be reversed by another surgical procedure.

Another method of body modification to be able to wear larger jewellery is the so-called dermal punching, which does not enlarge any existing stitch channel, but a correspondingly large hole is punched out directly. Usually this method is preferred in the auricle, because cartilage tissue can stretch only very poorly. In addition, the healing process is usually faster, because less pressure on the jewellery arises.

Use of an expansion pin:

This is the most common technique for stretching piercings. A conical expansion pin (taper) is used, which is previously coated with lubricant and carefully inserted into the branch canal. The jewelry with a larger diameter is then attached to the end of the expansion pin and pushed behind. Alternatively, a circular strain gauge can also be used. The expansion pins are available in different sizes and are defined by the larger end and have there a hollow place to attach the introduced jewelry better. Mostly they are made of stainless steel or acrylic. Their length varies between 5-10 millimeters. In the private stretching of piercings often simple knitting needles or pens are used. Particular attention should be paid to hygiene and unscratched materials.

Without the use of tools:

The jewelry can be pressed without the use of tools through the existing piercing, but this often leads to bleeding, inflammation or scarring and further complicates stretching. Also, the entire puncture channel can be everted in careless use. Some piercings also expand themselves by simply wearing jewelry, so larger diameter can be used easily. Often this happens in places where the piercing is moving a lot or when playing regularly (such as tongue piercing).

Use of Teflon tape:

Teflon has the characteristics that it is very smooth and compatible. Here, the jewelry is taken out and wrapped a thin layer of non-adhesive Teflon tape around the piercing. Subsequently, the jewelry is used again and the process is repeated as soon as the piercing has adapted to the larger diameter. Commercially available Teflon tape is about 0.1mm thick. To achieve the recommended strain rate of 1mm per month, a new layer of Teflon tape is wrapped around the jewelry every 6 days.

Use of weights:

Big, heavy piercing jewelry or other heavy objects can be used for stretching. This method is rarely used, because it is very uncomfortable and can bring the piercing to hiking. Especially on the ear, this method leads to a permanent dilution of the tissue. However, this is the traditional method of tribes like the Dayak in Borneo, who practice extreme forms of ear hole enlargement.


For dilated piercings, there is a wide selection of applicable piercing jewelry. As soon as the stretched piercing has healed, materials can be used in which jewelry in smaller diameters is not available. In addition to simple ball closure rings and barbells in larger material thicknesses, special septum tusks can be worn in the septum piercing, for example.

The ear usually carries a plug or a transparent meat tunnel. The jewelry is available in various materials such as stone, wood, horn, amber or glass. Since many materials such as wood or horn breathe better than is the case with metal or plastic, less sebum is formed.

Healing and care:

Most stretch methods do not leave a wound and properly performed enlargements do not have to heal afterwards, but only need a “rest” before they are widened. As far as the elasticity and texture of the tissue allow, piercings can be brought to very large diameters. The larger and longer a piercing was stretched, the smaller the diameter decreases after removing the jewelry, which, however, is also individually dependent on the age and tissue of the wearer. Fast-stretched channels usually close slightly less than slowly stretched ones. Excessively or improperly stretched piercings can cause irreparable damage. This can lead to scarring. Scarred tissue is more difficult to stretch.

Especially with larger diameters, both the jewel and the puncture channel should be cleaned regularly, as it can lead to increased sebum and odor.

Problems and dangers:

Especially with newly stretched piercings, the skin is often thinner and more permeable to bacteria resulting in an increased risk of infection. With stretched tongue piercing, the more massive jewelry can cause tooth damage. If the channel is too large, speech can be massively influenced due to the air circulation. Too much stretched connective tissue and especially during stretching deformations of cartilage are usually irreversable.

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