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woman with cartilage piercing
By Destiny 10/05/2019

Stretched lobe piercings have become fairly common these days. Your lobe offers an elastic piece of tissue, and stretching it to a larger gauge allows you to rock big and unique jewelry styles.

But what about stretching other areas of the body?

Stretched cartilage piercings are basically the same as stretched lobe piercings, except that you stretch the cartilage instead of the lobe. The process for both is the same, in theory, but there are a few key differences that you need to be aware of before stretching your cartilage.

Cartilage is much different than the tissue found in your lobe. Because of this, you need to be incredibly careful when you stretch your cartilage, and you won’t be able to stretch your cartilage nearly as far as you can stretch your lobes.

Here’s what you need to know about stretched cartilage piercings.

The Differences Between Cartilage and Tissue

When you feel your earlobe and your ear cartilage, you should notice a notable difference in texture and appearance. This is because they’re made up of very different materials.

Without going into too much scientific detail, your lobes are made up of active tissue with plenty of blood vessels, while your ear cartilage is made up with semi-flexible tissue that’s somewhat brittle and avascular, meaning that it doesn’t have tons of blood flow.

Since blood flow is essential to the healing process—it brings oxygen and other healing nutrients to the damaged area—your earlobes heal much faster than your cartilage does. 

Because of this, you need to be very careful if you choose to stretch your cartilage, and you need to be aware that, if you do stretch your cartilage, it might not ever fully shrink back to its original size.

How to Stretch a Cartilage Piercing

Stretching a cartilage piercing isn’t much different than stretching your earlobes except that it takes much longer.

Simply get some lube and some tapers, gently push the taper through your cartilage piercing, and slip the new jewelry in. You should only stretch one gauge larger at a time to avoid causing irreversible damage to your cartilage.

If you feel pain or if the piercing starts bleeding as you try to put in the taper, then you should stop. Stretching should be a fairly painful process, and you should only feel some mild sensations when stretching up to the next gauge size.

Once you have your larger jewelry in your cartilage piercing, you should leave it in for at least 3 months before moving to the next larger gauge. When it doubt, you should wait a little longer; it’s incredibly easy to damage your cartilage, and your cartilage takes more time to heal than your lobes, so you need to be patient when going through this process.

Since cartilage can be difficult to work with, you might want to seek consultation from a piercer that you trust. They can guide you through the process and let you know when or if it’s safe to continue stretching your cartilage.

Keep in mind that stretched cartilage won’t shrink back to normal like your lobes will. This is why it’s pretty rare to see cartilage stretched to a massive size. Most of the time, people stretch their cartilage because they want to wear jewelry that’s only one or two gauges larger than the gauge at which they were pierced. However, it is possible to stretch your cartilage to a gauge large enough to wear a small plug.

Alternatives to stretching your cartilage

If you don’t want to take the time to stretch your cartilage there are other options.

Some piercers can conduct a dermal punch that uses a super sharp tool to punch a large hole out of your cartilage. It’s important to note, however, that this is an illegal practice in many states since they consider it to be a medical procedure that should only be conducted by medical professionals. Before seeking this option, make sure that it’s legal in your state.

The simplest (and safest) way to get to a higher gauge is to simply have your cartilage pierced at a higher gauge to begin with. However, there is a limit to the initial piercing gauge size, so listen to your piercer if they tell you that they can’t pierce you at the gauge you want.

While it is possible to stretch your cartilage, it’s something that should be approached with caution. Keep in mind that cartilage takes longer to heal, be patient, and pursue professional consultation, and there’s no reason why you can’t wear larger jewelry in your cartilage piercing.

Adorable cartilage jewelry

Whether you’ve decided to stretch your cartilage to a larger gauge or not, you’ll want to check out FreshTrends’ amazing cartilage jewelry. Check out the entire collection.


2 Replies to “What Are Stretched Cartilage Piercings? A Beginner’s Guide”

Jerilynn Spratlen, 29 Dec 2017

What if Im already stretched my cartilage piercing and i just want to know when I can start putting different jewelry in?.

Jerilynn Spratlen, 29 Dec 2017

How long should I wait until I start changing the piercing?.

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