Ear is stretching – or gauging, as it is often called – has been practiced the world over for centuries. In the last twenty years, the practice rose to popularity and then fell out of favor with young Americans and Europeans, partly because of the careful balance wearers must strike between looking cool and committing to a long-term look. If you’re considering stretching your ears, here are a few factors to consider first.

The Results May Be Permanent

The look of ear plugs and jewelry for gauged ears might be fashion-forward and cool now, but it is important to consider the long-term results of stretching the ears. Will you want the holes in your lobes to remain large, indefinitely? Are you up to the task of maintaining this look, including wearing plugs, tunnels or gauges regularly to prevent uneven shrinkage? Do you understand the implications of having the alteration repaired, including surgical procedures or re-piercing? All of these are important things to think about when considering gauging your ears.

Time Must Be Taken in the Process of Stretching

When stretching the ears for use with plug styles, it can be tempting to skip sizes or buy plugs that are too large for your current lobe holes. However, doing this can result in pain, injury and loss of feeling in the ear tissue. It is important to buy the correct gauge size and move through the sizes in order, without skipping and with an allowed of two to three months between sizes for adequate stretching. Retailers who sell plugs and tunnels typically also sell gauges in all necessary sizes for those looking to stretch their lobes.

Pain and Tears Can Result from Improper Care or Impatience

People who do not take adequate precautions while wearing ear plugs and jewelry made for gauged ears can suffer painful consequences. Scar tissue can result from tears made in ear tissue, and pain or permanent disfiguration can happen when patience isn’t practiced when switching from one gauge size to the next. It’s always best to take your time while stretching and to consult an industry professional.

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