The Ins and Blow-Outs of Stretching My Ears


About 5 years ago I decided that I wanted to finally get my ears pierced with the intent of stretching them to a larger size.  Going into it I will openly admit that I knew nothing about the process besides: Put stuff in ear, ear gets bigger, put even bigger stuff in ear, repeat.  The only sure things in my mind were that I liked metal and I wanted it to be big!

Author's Ear With the Current Size Plug he Wears

I started off by getting my ears pierced at an 8 gauge, the largest that I was told it was safe to do. Warning; this is essentially getting stabbed through the ears and was definitely not the most comfortable process ever.  All in all it worked out well; the 5 months I was advised to not stretch or change the jewelry proved worth it in the end as far as the time and money I saved verses having to start at a 14 or 16 gauge stud.

Starting and Ending Gauge Sizes

From there I slowly began the stretching process.  If there is nothing else I can stress I’d say GO SLOWLY!  Rushing to get the next size in will only lead to longer healing times and a risk of blowout.  I found that personally waiting 2 months in between new sizes seemed like a good amount of time for my ears to heal before being able to attempt the next stretch.

This is where I stopped doing things intelligently.  When it came time to move up to 6gauge I simply wandered into a local store and looked at what 6g  jewelry I would like. This is the process I used to get down to 2 gauge before things went sour.  Up until 2, I at least started a new size with a pair of Steel CBRs (captive ball rings) which are slightly curved and smooth.  (I didn’t want to have so much metal hanging from my ear when I went to 2g so I changed things up.)

I purchased a pair of metal plugs, flared on the front and secured on the rear by an o-ring.  When I went to put this in, my ear was less than happy to stretch, straight up refusing to.  Instead of expanding and wrapping around the new piece of jewelry like before, I ended up “damaging” my ear with the sharp metal lip on the back of the Plug.

Simple as that you can blow out an ear.  Since that bad incident I have ordered sets of tapers to use first, slowly sliding them in to the correct size and letting them sit for a day before replacing them with other more permanent jewelry.  While I can’t tell you how to do it yourself, I can STRONGLY recommend you do not “dry stretch” your ears by simply putting in the next size up.  Tapers are your friends and will make your life MUCH easier.

Straight Taper Style Gauges

Since then I’ve only changed my strategy once, going from 00 to 7/16.  The jump was too much for my ears, especially with my right ear now having the scarring and damage from it’s past blow out.  In order to make the upgrade I did what is referred to, and understandably so, as “taping”.  With a layer or two of electrical or flat medical tape around the plug I was able to increase the size by ½ mm every other day for a week until I could comfortably get my new 7/16’s in.

Too Long Didn't Read Overview

Next thing you know you’ll be making your friends feel weird as you demonstrate the various items that you can now fit through your stretched lobes.

Morgan, the Author


  1. Black Diamond says:

    That looks really painful, how long do you use tapers if you’re going to go that route?

    • Morgan says:

      Honestly yes; it hurts but it’s nothing terrible. The way i express it is a kinda intense pinching pain for about five minutes, then dull like a bruise ache for about 24 hours or so. Whenever i’ve put in new tapers i put them in first thing in the morning and leave them in all day. That way they have a long time to stay and get my ear used to the new size before i switch out for a pair of flat plugs before i go to bed. Sleeping with tapers in is definitely possible but i wouldn’t recommend it by any means!

  2. Nancy says:

    This is a wonderful idea having people who are actually pierced or modified talk about it. I’ve learned things already. Nice job.

  3. Alma says:

    My ears always get really hot, and a little stinging, but it usually goes away after a while. I’m at a 4 gauge, I don’t think I will be going any bigger. Tapers definitely help.

  4. Andrew Eastwood says:

    I got mine pierced at a twelve and stretched them all the way up to a two before having any odor issues. I think it was because I stopped using the teflon tape. If you use the medical tape it really helps too. Now they’re almost an inch!

  5. Mikey says:

    At work I got my friend to poerce my ear with a small needle then I shoved an 8 through, 6 days later I didn’t have any 6 gauges so I went from 8 to 4, it hurt alot then 5 days later I went to a 2g for two days then jumped to a 0 for a week and jumped to 00, so in about three weeks I went from 8 to 00 and what hurt the worst was jumping from 8 to 4. I don’t advise doing this but when you shove tapers through take your time and you’ll be fine

    • coral says:

      DON’T DO THIS!!!!!
      I don’t know what kind of sorcery you did to pull that off but this is in no way shape or form possible to be fine by anyone with a normal ear without extreme pain. I myself just switched from a 6g to a 4g 2 days ago and am just now starting to get over the soreness. In most people the soreness doesn’t last much longer than 24hrs.
      Long story short… if any of you try to do this you’re in for A LOT of pain and damage at the end (if you even get to the end). DON’T DO IT!

  6. chris says:

    I got my ears done when I was 7 , then my freshman year I put a 10g in , (18g to 10), and It blew out my ear , not too bad though, it went a way after a month. I have always skipped sizes , but I do not recomend you skipping , n now I’m at 3/4 n outta high school.

  7. Rachael says:

    Those look awesome on you – I like that size – not too small or too big.

  8. Brittany says:

    i got my ears periced when i was 5 and i am 18. i was an 18 yesterday and i went to a 4(18 to 4 at once). my ears only hurt a lil bit. im a lil worried i may have blown them out cuz when i took my tapers out they bled ALOT but i still have hardly any pain i put the tapers back in and i can turn them just fine in my ear without any pain and my ears r not swollen or red i may just be over reacting can someone help me and tell me if im ok!

  9. Jen says:

    I’ve had my ears pierced since I was six and I am 21. I didn’t start stretching until I was probably 19. But I am at a 00 soon to be 7/16. From a 18-16-14-12-10-8-6-4-2-0-00… The bigger they got the longer I waited. I didn’t plan on going past a 4 but its kind of addicting. I recommend not skipping sizes nor going too fast, I see a few of you ^ did and It’s actually dangerous and horrible for your ears to stretch too quickly and to jump sizes; you could rip them or have a blowout and that sh*t’s nasty. I’ve always had really healthy round looking ear holes and no odor, and I believe that is because I did it correctly, and you have to keep them clean of course. But good luck to anyone stretching, just remember to be patient!

  10. caitlyn says:

    My ear blew out when i went from a 00 to 7/16. it was not a bad blow out. I took the gauge’s out of both ears and it has been a little over two weeks. Its healing great. I was wondering if I can still gauge my ears and will this happen again? Also they have closed up alot if I can still gauge my ears I have no idea what size to start with. Please help I love my gauges but never want a blow out again 🙂

    • Lorna says:

      Your best bet is probably to go to a piercer in your area and have them take a look. They can help you figure out what size to restart at, and will be able to assess the damage and let you know how to proceed. They’re also a great resource for alternative stretching techniques, and some offer service in which they can do some of the stretching safely for you. Hope this helps!

  11. bre says:

    I just went from an 8 to a 6. Never skipped a size and has never hurt til now. I realize that this is the biggest jump I’ve made so far but I’m still worried because I can’t move them at all. I’ve read horror stories and seen awful pictures so now I’m concerned. I went in to a professional and I think she used lube but I’m not sure. should I be worried that I can’t push them back and forth? And I heard a noise on my left ear and when I was washing it I saw some crusty blood.

  12. emilyharrie says:

    It was an informative post!! I extended my ears quite savagely to just 6mm and got a victory. It’s dreadful and I would without a doubt suggest your counsel of utilizing each size accessible. Thanks for sharing..

  13. Hollee says:

    I’d like to point out that “Dry Stretching” and “Dead Stretching” are different. I completely agree though, dry stretching your ear sucks balls. But, dead stretching is the #1 cause of a blowout. Dry stretching is using a taper, but without using any kind of lubricant to help you out, and the stinging afterwards is a b*tch. Dead stretching is when you just shove the next size in. But, yeah, I’ve heard to use tapers up to a 2g.

  14. jose says:

    So i already had gauged my ears up 9/16 then took them out for maybe 6 or 5 months. They shrunk back to a 6 or 8. Did the dumb move to try and re gauge them with the same silicone gauge twice, second time tore my ears alittle. Waited about a week or so. Orderd some 2 size gauges tried them, went in fine. Silicone of course, dont like tapers. Went up to 0 the next day and tore my left ear again but right was fine. So just be patient silicone is the way to go after 00 though

    • Tia says:

      I’ve been told NOT to use silicone when stretching because when it heals it can heal into the stretched skin and may need to be surgically removed.

    • Tia says:

      Is stinging and warm sensation on ears normal?
      I’m afraid I’m stretching too fast but give myself 2 to 3 weeks. I just went to a 6 from an 8 and it’s the most uncomfortable I think I’ve had. I didn’t feel the 6 when I put it in. I’ve been reading and people say they don’t feel it, it shouldn’t hurt.. etc.
      I know its different for different people but how do u know when you rip/tare it?

      • Jodie says:

        Hi Tia,

        It’s really important that you give your ears enough time between stretching. As with any piercing, your body needs time to heal. If you’re feeling any sort of pain like that, it means the skin is still trying to heal at that gauge. Make sure that you’re not dry stretching your lobes – sizing up in the shower is the best idea.

  15. andy says:

    How long should I wait to shove a taper through after having it punched out to 8?

    • coral says:

      Minimum 1 month, I’d say 45-60 days just to be safe.

    • Bethany says:

      Just let it heal all the way up. Give it a full 3 months to be safe. That shit hurts, dont do it with a half healed hole in your ear. Be patient, it will happen. Speed gets you blowouts.

  16. olivia says:

    I was at an 18g and I stretched my ears with a 14g taper without using any kind of lubricant. both of my holes hurt to the touch but more so my left ear. I took the tapers out and now I’m wondering how long should I wait until my lobes are healed and I can start over?

    • nicole says:

      Hey Olivia! Wait for your ears to heal completely. Everyone’s body reacts differently so there is no definitive timeline for things like this – the best advice I can give is to listen to your body! If you want a pro to take a look visit a reputable piercing parlor in your area and ask a piercer. When I stretched my ears I tried to do a lot of the stretching right after getting out the shower so my ears were more pliable. Let us know if you have anymore questions. 🙂

  17. aj francis says:

    i have had my ears pierced for 3 weeks at a 14 gauge i started with it and tonight i jumped from that to a 10 gauge it dont hurt but i do know we aint supposed to do that so in about three weeks ill go to an 8 instead of jumping up again…. if there is a faster way id love to know it

    • nicole says:

      Slow and steady wins the race AJ! Pay attention to your body. When your ears are no longer sore and appear to be ready go up to the next size. Everyone is different so there is no absolute answer in these situations but make sure not to rush it. Sizing up when your ears are pliable right after a shower can be a great help! Here’s a recent blog post that will be helpful for you (parts 2 & 3 coming soon!) we hope that helps! 🙂

  18. Bethany says:

    Ah, I couldnt even finish reading that and the comments on people gauged out to a 4g…mine have been gauged out for some years now and its been a long road. 1: yes, it does hurt. 2: clean the ever loving shit out of whatever you put in your ear! I cant say how many times my ears were seeping and its awful and smells and nobody has time for that crap. 3: DO NOT USE ACRYLIC! Only use good grades of metal, I go with titanium because my skin and ears are super sensitive. Or heavy woods, not the cheap light woods. Ooor natural stones I have found to be the best thing to make my ears happy. Blow outs happen when you go way too damn fast. I went from a 20g piercing from when I was 9, to a 16g in about 3 months….do not be a jack ass and do this. Yes, it is addicting, and gauging up is like this unspoken competition of who has bigger holes. Its not worth blowing out or ripping your ear, that yes, pretty much always ends in surgery. Once you get to about 12ish mm it doest hurt as bad anymore going up. Til you get to where your skin is gettin pretty thin there and then it hurts again. But if youre gonna have gauged out ears, dont be a little bitch about it, its gonna hurt. Stop asking. Also another point!! Most tapers out there are cheap acrylic…do not leave these in for long! Get it to where your ear isnt stinging and get those bastards out or you will end with seepage and infection. And for thosewho didnt have a guiding hand in this, vitamin e oil…works wonders. Helps condition your skin all around. Get some. Other than that, keep them and whatever you stick in em clean, nobody wants to smell that shit and yes, it travels. Hope this helps 🙂

  19. Bethany says:

    Oh I meant from 20g to 16MM in 3 (now that I think about it maybe 5) months. Either way, not a good plan at all. Do not try it.

  20. Shawna says:

    Not sure when I can start the process again. I recently decided I wanted to size up my lobes from a 3/4 to a 7/8 i waited about 3-4 months and then being the impatient person i am used a silcone tunnel to stretch ( VERY VERY BAD IDEA ) well i got a blow out, and an infection. It pain got to a point where downsizing hurt as well so i just took them out completely, and went to urgent care. The Dr. gave me a topical antibiotic to help and my lobes are shrunk back to baby size. The front of my holes look fairly back to normal but the backs are scabbed and the left side bleeds when i clean it. it’s been about a week and i’m curious on anyone’s recommendation as to when/how to begin the process again because i miss them terribly. T.I.A !

    • Jodie says:

      Hey Shawna,

      If they’re scabbed/bleeding, my best recommendation would be to go see a piercer so that they can visually tell where you’re at and how/when to start he process again. If you stretch the skin while it’s still healing, you’ll risk repeating the process you just went through. Good luck!

  21. dev says:

    Hey, so i been stretching for a little while now. currently I’m at an 8g but i tried a 6g but it didn’t go through. what are some suggestions in order to go to the nest size?
    Thanks really appreciate it!

    • Jodie says:

      Hey Dev!

      Everyone’s ears stretch at a different rate. If you’re finding it hard to get to the next size up, you may need to stay at 8g for a little awhile to let your ears adjust. Make sure you’re using a lubricant, applying it to both the taper and your ear. Also try doing it in the shower as your skin will be less resistant. Again, don’t push it too hard. A little resistance is normal, but if you start to feel any sort of pain, you need to stop. Hope that helps!

  22. Brenda says:

    This is actually in regards to my 13 yr old. One ear got infected. She had to let in close completely. The other is still a 00. How long before she can re pierce n start over. I do feel a little hard spot there…

    • Jodie says:

      Hi Brenda,

      If you want to be 100% certain, I’d let a piercer look at it. There might be a build up of scar tissue if you’re feeling something in there. They can better determine the length of time for you though! Be sure that when she does start to stretch again, she uses a good set of tapers (we’d recommend steel) and she takes the process slowly. 🙂 Best of luck!

  23. Tyler says:

    I had stretched my ears last night with a size 00g taper and it was by far the worst one. it’s been hurting for almost ten hours is that normal?

  24. Lyssa says:

    Soooooooooo, the first time I gauged my ears I jumped from freshly pierced to 8. Now, this didn’t rip my left ear, but my right ear ripped a bit so I kept that gauge in, checking it waiting for it to completely heal. The problem is… my ears heal quickly, and I can usually move up to the next size within a week with little or no pain. Should I stop? I am at 4 in one and 6 in the other.
    Kik: emocatt_eatscookies that’s the quickest way to reach me… bit but otherwise answet on here c: I need help ASAP, thanks

    • Jodie says:

      Hey Lyssa!

      Just make sure you’re taking it slow! It sounds like you heal quickly, but the fact that your right ear split a bit could just mean that your lobes need more time at each gauge. Have a piercer take a look at your 4 gauge one and see if they think it would be okay to move up. You definitely don’t want to rush it at this point!

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