We’re all pretty familiar with gauged and stretched piercings around here (helllllo glitter plugs), but what about stretched cartilage piercings? How is that even possible?
The answer may make you cringe a little bit, but the truth it, stretched cartilage piercings really aren’t that much different than a standard stretched piercing – at least in how you get there.
First though – a biology lesson. Settle down kiddies, this shit is important.
The Differences Between Cartilage and Tissue
Aside from the obvious differences in texture and appearance, cartilage heals and reacts to piercings very differently than regular tissue like, say, your ear lobe.
When you get your ears pierced, the lobe generally gets a little agitated for a few days with some swelling and tenderness, and then in a month or two heals up completely. The piercing is surrounded by active tissue with plenty of blood vessels running through it, so the process goes pretty quickly.
Cartilage, on the other hand, is NOT as blessed with blood vessels. This material is flexible, but still rigid, and without the vasculature to constantly regenerate it, it takes a while to heal – up to a year in some cases.
As a result, cartilage is generally less painful to have pierced, but more painful to heal, simply because it can take so long, and there’s not much going on in these areas to patch you up after a fresh piercing.
How to Stretch a Cartilage Piercing
Now onto the good stuff – getting that dainty little cartilage piercing of yours sized up into a badass plug.
Be patient with this one, folks. Cartilage stretching takes serious time to do properly, and rushing it can have some incredibly painful consequences.
Though it sounds bizarre, the process for stretching a cartilage piercing is essentially the same as stretching a regular piercing: lots of lube, and lots of love.
In addition to making sure your cartilage piercing is fully healed (because duh), you’ll need to make sure that you use a simple, hypoallergenic lubricant, and an equally conscientious taper. Cartilage piercings can give people a bit more trouble in the healing process than a standard piercing, so if you’re going to have problems anywhere, rest assured that it’s going to be here.
Surgical steel and titanium tapers are pretty perfect for these purposes. Try to avoid materials like acrylic, wood, and stone, because they’re porous, and in the case of acrylic, filled with all kinds of things that can set off an allergic reaction if your cartilage turns out to be sensitive.
Go incredibly slow as you stretch your cartilage piercing, keeping in mind that if done too fast, the pain will be VERY long lasting, and the effects permanent. This brings me to one of the most important things to note when stretching a cartilage piercing:
Stretched cartilage piercings are permanent, and will never close up.
I know, that’s some big and scary text right there, but I want you to know what you’re getting into before you get all taper-crazy over there.
The bottom line is that stretching your cartilage is a look you’ll be rocking for the rest of your life, so you need to do it right, and you need to slow your roll and just wait for it to heal. Yep – that means waiting about a year between sizing up again.
Faster Stretched Cartilage Piercings
If you can’t stand the wait and want the look of a stretched cartilage piercing now, there are actually a couple of options for you.
1. Pierce it bigger
In some cases, you can actually request a larger needle to skip a few sizes in the stretching process. Bigger needles might mean more pain and healing time, but it beats the pants off of slowly getting through those boring tiny sizes.
2. Punch it
This option is not for the faint of heart, but in some states, it is actually an option. Rather than getting through the sizing process one gauge at a time or with a bigger needle, you can actually skip right to the size you want by having your cartilage punched instead.
It’s crazy, it’s bold, and man, it’s going to be pretty crazy, but there’s no denying that it’s a hell of a lot more satisfying than waiting through years of slowly sizing up.
Cartilage punching actually isn’t available in some places, so before you get too excited, you’ll want to call around to your local piercing shops and see if it’s even an option where you’re located. If it is, make sure you find somebody reputable and go over the healing process from front to back with them.
Know for Sure, and Then Rock That Shit
The bottom line is, stretching a cartilage piercing isn’t something to just jump into without seriously weighing the decision. It’s time-intensive, permanent, and, oh yea – drop dead AWESOME.
Do some research into piercing shops in your area that might be able to help you out with determining if this particular body mod is a good idea for you or not, and then get committed to the process. Remember – slow and steady wins the race.