Plugs, tapers and tunnels are terms a friend of mine throws around constantly. It took me a while to learn her specialized vocabulary, but whatís sheís doing is punching big holes in her ears and then stretching them to look even bigger.
Now, being of a conservative nature, Iím not sure I see the need to take the small ear piercings Iíve enjoyed forever and stretch them into holes the size of a quarter. Or even a dime. Iím okay with the small holes that hold traditional earrings, but apparently, not every teen feels that way.
Ear Plugs and Teens
While not hugely common, I do have a more friends now with ear plugs than I did just a year ago. The look seems to be catching on in popularity and suddenly itís surprisingly in the mainstream, at least in my high school, to have giant plugs in your ears.
To stretch the holes in your ears into large open circles, you start with a normal piercing and gradually stretch the holes over time. To do this stretching, you use a taper. A taper looks like a little cone that goes into your piercing. You push the taper through the hole in the ear and follow it with a plug or tunnel. You can stretch about once every month at the smaller sizes, but should wait two months or more as you reach the larger sizes.
Considerations and Concerns about Ear Stretching
Ear stretching is very similar to tattoos in that both are essentially permanent. Once you reach a certain size with ear stretching, a 2 gauge, for example, the likelihood of your earlobes returning to regular size is slim to none. A size 0 is considered the point of no return. When you begin to stretch a piercing, and really you can stretch different piercings, not just your ear lobes, be sure youíre committed to the look for the long term.
If you stretch your ears incorrectly, you might also be facing problems down the road. Ear stretching is a slow and gradual process, not one that can be done overnight or even in a year. It takes many months to go from a tiny piercing to something large enough to wear plugs or tunnels in your ears that are noticeable. Sometimes the process is rushed along.
Tapers, a heavy stainless steel tool used to help stretch out the opening are heavy, especially once you reach the larger sizes. They can pull on your ears, tearing them a bit. If you try to stretch your ears too quickly, youíll risk significant tearing as well. While the tears do heal, the scar tissue that builds up will not allow the ear to shrink back to its normal size.
Personally, Iím not going to even consider ear stretching, but for those who are already trying it, youíll be on the edge of alternative fashion Ė and rest assured that surgery can fix your ear lobes down the road when you decide youíre not into the look any more.