Looking to get a large gauge piercing instead of stretching. Anyone here done this?
October 12, 2010 1:15 PM   Subscribe

Large gauge piercing vs. Stretching: Who's had it done, and what's the healing process like?

After long last I'll have about a month off of DJ gigs, and want to have my ears pierced for some tunnels.

Now, I HATE the look of ear "rings" in mens ears, so I'd like to avoid the long and unattractive process of stretching from "normal" holes to my desired size (6 or 8 Gauge).

Has anyone in the Hivemind had a large gauge piercing / dermal punch done? How large was it, what was the healing process like, and, if there's anyone experienced in the technical side of things, is it better to grin an bare looking like Eminem for a year to properly stretch them, or can I have my gratification (semi) immediately?

Also: Toronto studios / piercers to recommend doing this?
posted by bobby_newmark to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I got mine pierced at a gauge slightly higher than normal, and it must have been pretty easy because it was in a booth in the mall (there goes all my cred).

Stretching from there has been a little easier for me than it was for my partner, who started from regular holes. But honestly? Just get the regular piercing and let it heal up good -- which takes hardly any time -- and then start from there. Don't rush it. If there's ANY way to fuck up your ears with stretching or add unforeseen problems, it's from haste.

Also, if you ever decide you want/need to shrink your holes back down to imperceptible sizes, you are NOT going to be able to do that if you've physically punched a big old hole through there. Whereas a regular stretched piercing should shrink right back down.

(I'm at 00 gauge and plan to stay there forever.)
posted by hermitosis at 1:28 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I stretched my ears to a zero back in the day and had it for a few years.
Upon entering the professional realm, I removed them (I do miss them, but being judged isn't too much fun in a corp. Environment). As of now, my holes are not entirely closed, but they do appear 'normal' it just looks like I had earings at one point.
As far as 6 or 8 gauge, they close up fine. The stretching process itself I found enjoyable and went pretty much a new gauge when my ears felt normal (not the stretching, burning feeling when doing it). I have friends with larger ones now and they seem to like it, again going below a certain point is of no return, and you WILL have giant holes in your ears forever. Don't rush the process or you could permentaly damage your ear lobes and have no ability to stretch. Don't punch out a hole, just do the normal gauging slowly going from an 18 to whatever you desire.
I miss my guages... There's always tattoos and other places to pierce though ;)
posted by handbanana at 1:39 PM on October 12, 2010

I have two sets of lobe piercings. The first were pierced with a gun (the horror!) when I was 12 and then stretched gradually to 1/2" in my twenties, and the second were pierced at 2 gauge and immediately stretched to 0 gauge.

If you go to an experienced piercer who has done a lot of piercings at larger gauges, you should be fine, particularly since you just want to go to 6 or 8ga. Starting at 10 gauge (which is pretty standard amongst many piercers I know) and stretching to 8 doesn't make sense if the furthest you want to go is 8 gauge.

The only thing I'd be concerned about is being able to shrink them back down and close up completely, since piercing at a larger size removes more tissue and you might never be able to shrink back down completely.
posted by bedhead at 1:42 PM on October 12, 2010

My lobes weren't pierced or punched -- they were scalpeled at 4 gauge. They then stretched naturally up to about a 2 gauge over the next 18 months. Healing was fine, and certainly just as easy as my other piercings.

There's no going back -- the holes are there no matter if I take the jewelry out. But even if I had stretched the piercings, once you get that big you're pretty much making a permanent commitment.
posted by bigdamnnerd at 1:44 PM on October 12, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks guys!

I knew there'd be a few "What if you need a job" type of posts, but I'm old enough and entrenched enough in my career that its not a concern. They'd probably have more issue with the tattoos on my neck than some earrings ;)
posted by bobby_newmark at 1:45 PM on October 12, 2010

I had my ear lobes punched at 4ga about seven years ago. I can't compare to stretching -- I've never done it -- but the pain and healing process/healing time was about the same as when I'd had them pierced [needle, not gun] a few years prior to that. I've been really, really happy with them.

The main difference I notice between my ears and those of my friends who have stretched to 4ga is that my holes without jewelry are perfectly round, whereas theirs are closer to slits (I'm not sure how universal that is, so take it for what you will). There's absolutely no way I can remove my jewelry and look conservative -- they're really obvious. (But then, I'm a woman, so if I actually need to look conservative I just use a bit of bamboo to make normal stud earring posts fit my ears.) I also doubt they'll ever close/shrink; I went through a 10-month period where I didn't wear anything at all, and still my jewelry slipped in without any trouble.
posted by Westringia F. at 1:48 PM on October 12, 2010

Given the DJ factor, I think I'd get punched or scalpeled to 8ga if you're absolutely sure about this, and you can always stretch up. I've had my earlobes at 00ga for about 12 years (going from the equivalent of a mall piercing which was 10 years old) and some of the (slow) stretching made me lobes hurt way too much to have headphones clamped on them.
posted by carbide at 2:28 PM on October 12, 2010

I have not personally gauged that high, but a close friend of mine had a large-gauge labret piercing scalpeled - 2g if I recall correctly. He was heavily into body modification, and after a lot of research, decided scalpeling was a better option than a dermal punch.

He was pretty well-versed in piercing care already, but the healing didn't seem to be difficult.
posted by rachaelfaith at 2:40 PM on October 12, 2010

I initially got my ears pierced at 10ga. It worked out fine, and I was able to stretch up to 6ga without a problem over the course of about a year. They do make tunnels in 10ga so you'll have nice stuff to wear in the meantime.

Then I decided I wanted to skip 6ga-2ga and go straight to 0ga. I found a piercer who thought it'd be a great idea to dermal punch my earlobes. DO NOT DO THIS. Dermal punches are not meant to punch out flesh, they are made to punch out cartilage. They can cause serious trauma and bruising to your fleshy earlobes which are in turn much more likely to "invert" - the inner fistula can sort of pop out the back (if you're lucky) or the front (if you're really, really unlucky) giving your earlobes the appearance of cat-butts.

After "enjoying" my 0ga dermal punched earlobes for not nearly long enough, the scar tissue started to grow. Because the scar tissue is in the fistula itself after a dermal punch and not around it on the outside of your ear as in a regular needle piercing, that's where it'll grow if it's going to. Soon painful pressure built up inside my fistula, squeezing my Kaos (squishy silicone) tunnels until they were mere slits. I took everything out after about a year of on-and-off throbbing pain, even after the initial wound had healed.

Today, I can slip up to a 12ga in the less-damaged ear, and 14ga or so in the more-damaged ear. The backs of my ears are seriously sad looking and the scars are noticeable. When I squeeze my earlobes, I feel hard lumps.

Do not dermal punch your earlobes. If you want to go big right away, get a needle piercing at 10ga or so, or get someone to scalpel.
posted by juniperesque at 2:59 PM on October 12, 2010

There's no way to say this without sounding like a size queen, so I'll just say it: 6g or 8g is not, these days, a large-gauge piercing. You should have no trouble finding somebody who's willing to do 8g earlobe piercings with a regular needle. Neither scalpelling nor punching is really necessary.

Also: If there's ANY way to fuck up your ears with stretching or add unforeseen problems, it's from haste. This is the smartest thing about body modification that anyone has ever said.
posted by box at 5:15 PM on October 12, 2010

I just had a prince albert done at 8ga - just a regular needle, no punch or scalpel. i can't imagine you'd need anything but the needle for your lobes. healing was no worse than my 14ga labret or my 12ga septum (and in some ways much easier, but that may just have been the location).
posted by casconed at 5:28 PM on October 12, 2010

What box said. 8 or 6ga: not big.

I had 8ga initial piercings done with a needle a little while ago. It is not a big piercing, although it was the largest needles my piercing shop had on hand (so that particular shop wouldn't be able to do 6). It was uneventful during piercing and during healing. It looked like this the day it was done.
posted by mendel at 9:38 PM on October 12, 2010

Best answer: Tom Brazda is probably the best known and most experienced piercer in Canada and usually works in Toronto, but he is occasionally out of town for long periods too. He was at Way Cool Oakville, but isn't on their website now. If you contact him via FB and he's not in Toronto for awhile, he'll probably be happy to recommend someone else. You don't need the-absolute-best but there are a lot of unethical yutzes out there to avoid.

There are quality piercing needles available (from Industrial Strength and Anatometal) up to 4ga that work just fine such that you don't really need a scalpel or dermal punch. At the larger sizes you can get a tiny bit of ragged skin on the back (which takes a little while to die off or be reabsorbed) so I would suggest that if 6ga is where you want to go, then start at 8ga. It'll look just a bit cleaner to start with, and a few months later you'll have a fun day shopping for new tunnels seeing your new, bigger ears all over again. But if you want to go straight to 6ga, that's fine. No one is going to see the back of your earlobe anyhow.
posted by K.P. at 9:40 PM on October 12, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks again guys.

Had a consult and scheduled an appointment to get a 6 gauge done, with a needle, and set with tunnels immediately as opposed to rings (they actually recommended tunnels over rings due to weight / wear on the tissue, so that was good news).

I'll have about 12 days before i have any live shows so I'm hoping thats enough of a head start for healing that with care I shouldn't have any issues.

hivemind you win again.
posted by bobby_newmark at 8:33 AM on October 13, 2010

Chiming in to say I had my lobes done at 8 gauge with a needle.

It wasn't any worse than any other piercings (14 gauge cartilidge piercing was by far the most painful), though the amount of pressure was considerably greater. I did get some scar tissue out the back and a tiny bit out the front, but when wearing flared tunnels, you can't see it. My plan was to take them larger, but I am now afraid to stretch because the aforementioned cartilidge piercing went all keloid on me and I don't want to reinjure my ears again.

I'd do it again at that size, healing was fine.
posted by utsutsu at 8:50 AM on October 13, 2010

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