Stretching (body piercing)

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Woman with stretched ear lobes

Stretching is a word used to describe a kind of body modification. It is when a person widens a pierced hole in their body.

Stretching is usually done a little bit at a time, so the pierced hole would not bleed or get infected.

Stretching methods[change | change source]

There are some common ways used to stretch piercings, of different origins and useful for different people.

  • Tapering — The most common way to stretch, tapering uses a taper, a piece of jewelry which is smaller at one end and larger at the other. The taper is covered with something slippery, like oil or soap, to make it slide through the skin more easily. Then it is pushed through the hole of the piercing until it is almost completely through. Thicker jewelry is then pushed into the piercing. Tapers come in many sizes and are usually sold by the thickness of the large end. Most tapers are about 2 or 3 inches long.
  • Dead Stretching — In dead stretching, jewelry is forced through without trying to widen the piercing hole first. This can hurt the body, and make scars, if it is not ready to hold the new jewelry. Some piercings will stretch a little on their own and larger jewelry can be put in without injury.
  • Teflon Tape Stretching — The jewelry is taken out, and a thin layer of non-sticky teflon tape is wrapped around it to make it thicker. The jewelry is then put back in. If a lot of tape is wrapped around the jewelry, eventually a person's piercing holes can be very wide.
  • Weights — Big, heavy jewelry objects can be used to stretch piercings.

Gauges and other measuring systems[change | change source]

Method of stretching: tapering

Body jewellery is measured in gauges from 20g up to 000g; sizes larger than that are measured in fractions of inches. In Europe they are measured in millimeters.

The table below is not exact, but very close.

Gauge Millimeters Inches
18g 1.0mm 5/127"
16g 1.2mm 3/64"
14g 1.6mm 1/16"
12g 2mm 5/64"
10g 2.4mm 3/32"
8g 3.2mm 1/8"
6g 4mm 5/32"
4g 5mm 3/16"
2g 6mm 1/4"
0g 8mm 5/16"
00g 10mm 3/8"
000g 11mm 7/16"
12.7mm 1/2"
14mm 9/16"
16mm 5/8"
19mm 3/4"
22mm 7/8"
25mm 1"