I have plenty of ear piercings, but all of the small kind-I don’t have any plugs or stretchers, and I’ve never been overly tempted to go down that route, not least because I often have problems with my piercings for quite some time after having them whether I DIY them with a Caflon gun while pissed (do not do this) or have them done in a proper piercers with all of the appropriate hygiene and skill that this requires.
However, a good number of my friends do have plugs of various sizes and ages, and I got talking to some of them the other night about them, in terms of how they got started with them, how to keep them clean and healthy, and what happens if you decide you want to get rid of them.
So taking into account the views of my bro’s in the know and of course Dr. Google, here is my quick and dirty summary of ear plug options and troubleshooting.
This is my friend Aisha’s plugs, the same one that took a surprise picture of me with an oxygen mask on.
There are two basic options when it comes to starting off your massive ear holes-stretching or dermal punching. Stretching simply means that you start with a piercing (maybe a gauge or two larger than normal, but just a regular piercing essentially) and progressively increase the size of the gauge as your ears get used to them, until you have stretched your ear to the desired degree of deformity.
Dermal punches on the other hand sound horrifying to me, but are the way to go if you don’t want to spend months or maybe years stretching your holes (snerk), and this involves using a tool called a biopsy punch (which doctors use to cut round chunks out of you for biopsies) to cut a large hole out of your ears all in one go.
The latter option must surely be only for the very committed and hardcore (or them with literally zero patience) and this method of widening your piercing holes can also be fraught with problems.
Stretching allows your skin to stretch naturally around the piercing and become more elastic over time, while with a dermal punch, you’re basically making a large open wound in your ears that then needs to heal with a large foreign object in it, which sounds to me, both really painful and apt to lead to infections, keloids and other issues.
OH HELLS NO.
Nobody I spoke to (ok, so my sample size was three people) went down the dermal punch route. However, I am told that in some cases this options is more suitable for larger cartilage piercings than stretching is.
If you’re going the stretching route, you have to understand that it takes time before you’ll be able to wear big plugs and trying to speed things up is apt to lead to issues. You should only increase the gauge by around 1mm at a time and leave several weeks between upgrades, so that the skin fully heals and does not feel tight use vitamin E oil or something else too to help your skin to retain its elasticity.
You need to keep plugs in at virtually all times of course in order to stop the holes from shrinking again, but good hygiene is key-I know from even my own regular sized piercings that some really nasty funky-smelling smeg can build up around your piercings, so remove and thoroughly clean them with something gentle and hygienic regularly.
Also, go back to your piercer for advice if you run into any problems.
Do they ever heal?
So what happens if things don’t go to plan, or if they do but you change your mind and want your regular ears back? This too can be pretty variable.
If you went the stretching route, did it sensibly and didn’t go too big, your holes may shrink over time to not far off normal.
If you had plugs for years and they were pretty large, your ears might not ever go back to near-normal, and if you had dermal punches that healed properly, these too are apt to stay large.
If they really bother you, you can potentially have the holes surgically closed up-but you’re likely going to have to pay to have this done privately, as the NHS has better things to pay for than your bad decisions. 😉 .