Red haired woman with stretched ears and facial piercings.

Although stretched lobes tend to be considered a more alternative body modification, in recent years, they’ve gained a bit of popularity. Stretched lobes are easy enough to attain at home, and once you get to your preferred gauge, some really awesome jewelry styles open up to you. If you love big jewelry styles, then stretched lobes can completely transform your look. 

However, since it is considered a type of body modification, you might feel understandably apprehensive about the process. The last thing you want is to stretch your lobes too far and be left with an elastic mess that requires surgery to fix.

The good news is that your lobes are highly forgiving, as long as you stretch them slowly and carefully. When trying to decide how far is too far, here are some questions you should answer to decide when to stop stretching.

Will it affect your work?

The nice thing about stretching your lobes is that, if you stick to a smaller gauge, then many plugs look like larger pieces of jewelry, and people don’t even have to know that your ears are stretched.

But, depending upon the policies of your company, they might frown upon larger earrings, even if they don’t know that it’s because your ears are stretched. Before you stretch your lobes, check your company’s policies. If you’re in school, or you’re trying to get another job, then you should talk to someone to see if stretched lobes are widely accepted in your industry. 

While it is possible for your lobes to go back to their regular size after they’ve been stretched, it does take some time, and stretched lobes aren’t easily hidden. When it comes to your career, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

How big do you like your jewelry styles?

Stretched lobes allow for massive pieces of jewelry to be worn in your ears. The size of the jewelry that you want will largely dictate the gauge that you stretch your ears to.

Man at the beach with stretched ears.

If you prefer subtler jewelry, then you’ll likely want to stick to a smaller gauge. A smaller gauge will more easily shrink back to its original size if you ever decide that you no longer want stretched lobes.

If you like massive jewelry styles, then you’ll want to stretch your lobes to a larger size. Be careful; there is a point of no return, so although there’s really no limit to how far you stretch your ears, once you stretch past a certain point, your ears will never go back to their original size. 

Do you care what other people think?

Since stretched lobes are considered a more alternative style, you’ll likely receive comments and looks if your ears are significantly stretched.

Smaller gauges can often get away without people realizing that the ears are stretched (unless you wear a hollow plug). They are a little subtler, and because of this, they tend to be more accepted. If you care about what others think and what they might say, then you probably want to stick with a smaller gauge.

If you don’t care, then stretch as much as you want! Just be prepared for potential comments from those who should probably keep their opinions to themselves.

How much time do you want to spend on stretching?

Stretching takes time. For the health of your lobes, and to avoid tears while stretching, you should only stretch one gauge at a time, and you should wait at least 6 weeks between each stretch, but many piercers recommend waiting 2 – 3 months for the safest results.

Therefore, if you’re planning on achieving a larger gauge, it could take a couple of years to get there. If you’re committed to the style, then this won’t be an issue. But, it’s important to know yourself; if you’re the type who ends up switching styles or changing your mind every couple of years, then you should know that you might never reach a significant gauge.

Do you want your stretched lobes to heal?

Up to a certain point, your lobes should fairly easily shrink down to their original size after stretching. However, there is a point of no return, and you need to decide whether you want stretched lobes forever or if you eventually want your lobes to go back to normal.

The point of no return is different for everyone, so keep in mind that even if you don’t achieve a massive gauge, your ears still might not go back to normal. However, if you stretch slowly and safely, you increase your chances of your ears completely healing.

Many piercers agree that you shouldn’t go beyond 2G or 0G for the best chances of your ears going back to normal. If it’s very important to you that your ears go back to normal, then you should probably stick to even smaller gauges, since healing at those sizes still isn’t guaranteed.

How far you stretch your ears really comes down to personal preference. If you stretch carefully and safely, there’s not much of an anatomical limit to how far you can stretch (according to Guinness World Records, Monte Pierce holds the stretched lobes record at 12.7 cm for his left ear and 11.43 cm for his right), but you have to be prepared to have stretched lobes for a lifetime if you stretch past a certain point.

Before you start the stretching process, consider the look you’re trying to achieve, future career prospects, and whether you’re likely to want stretched lobes decades down the line, and the answer to these questions should guide your ear stretching quest.

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