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sarah's ear stretching experience

'm 15 years old and have been fascinated with body piercing since before I can remember. One of my earliest memories is of being a toddler and wanting to pierce my hand webbing. So it's no surprise that, now reaching the brink of adulthood, I've been dying to shove some metal through my flesh. I begged my mother to let me get new piercings (other than ears) and she refused. I decided not to disobey her by getting pierced anyway. Here in Ohio (and in many other states) the only way a minor can be pierced is if 16 or older and accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. The fact that I would have to visit an establishment that didn't care how old I am (and perhaps not about hygiene or technique, either) made my decision to wait till 18 even easier. I've even picked my piercer: Keith Alexander. If you don't know about him, read his bio at http://www.bme.freeq.com/people/ka.html or give him a call at Modern American or an e-mail. He's a really great guy. Fun, spiritual, responsible and kind. I know this and we haven't even met. This guy exudes greatness, and I certainly wouldn't want to jeopardize his career and/or personal emotional well-being by cheating my way into a pierce with him before 18.

So... what do I do until then? I've already got 3 lobe piercings in each ear, so I decided to stretch. At first I wanted just to go up to 14 or so. 12 seemed unimaginable. Let's just say my feelings have changed. All it takes is a little money, imagination patience and a teency weency bit of pain tolerance. I've had a lot of fun experimenting with different gauges, placements, jewelry types etc and I didn't have to buy all that much. Every once in a while, when I've got a little money to burn I buy something new to play with.

AFTER 1 MONTH I HAVE IN MY COLLECTION OF PLAYTHINGS: 2 16GA 3/8" niobium CBRs 2 14GA 1/2" niobium BBs 1 14GA ~3/8" SS spiked labret stud 2 12GA 15mm SS CBRs 1 08GA 15mm SS CBR

You can probably already see all the fun possibilities there are without needing any new holes, breaking any laws or breaking the bank.

RIGHT NOW I'M WEARING: LEFT EAR: top hole----14GA BB middle------12GA CBR bottom------08GA CBR RIGHT EAR: top hole---12GA CBR middle------14GA spiked stud bottom-----12GA CBR *orbital with bead turned to back or underside of lobe

I am especially proud of my right ear. If you're not sure what an orbital is or if you just want a better mental pic, (I apologize for not having a photo. If anyone is really miffed about that s/he may feel free to give me a scanner.) the 12GA CBR enters through the top hole and exits through the bottom (hence the term "orbital", as it "orbits" the tissue within the ring). With the spike of the stud visible in the middle and the CBR's bead hidden, it looks just like the orbit around a planet or something. I'm quite fond of it.

Anyway... the point of all of this is that if for any reason you can not or don't want to make any new perforations, you can still have fun and express yourself. Truly imaginative people not only know what they want, but how to make it happen. A few words of advice if you want to start stretching:

Don't go more than 2 or 3 gauges at a time. I know I prolly sound like your mother or something, but going much more than that too quickly can cause tears, bleeding, soreness, throbbing and infection. Unless of course you're into having bodily fluids oozing from your skin. Then go for it. But otherwise, be safe. Also, wait for the hole to become adjusted to the new gauge before upping it. This will be at LEAST one week. At the VERY least. "Adjusted" means no soreness, tenderness or discharge of any kind* no matter what. You should be able to pull and tug at the jewelry without feeling anything.

*This is a good rule of thumb. Technically there is some discharge that's okay, but if you don't know how to recognize safe discharge from unsafe, you can probably use pain, swelling and redness as a guide. If all of these are absent but you do have a thin clear or slightly white (not yellow) discharge, you're probably okay.

Always insert clean, unscratched jewelry.  This may sound like a

no-brainer, but I gotta say it. Complete sterilization is impractical and probably not necessary, but it is a good idea to make sure there is no discharge from a previous wearing stuck to it. Clean it with an alcohol gauze pad and give it a sec or air dry before insertion. This ensures that any bacteria that the alcohol can kill will die before making contact with your skin. I don't advise using scratched jewelry at all as bacteria can get caught in there and cause infection.
Autoclaving would eliminate this problem if you do have access to one, but if you do, you probably don't need to be reading this.

You may think, "I've had this hole for X years!  I don't need to

worry about it becoming infected." But the truth is that when you stretch, you put stress on the healed skin within the hole and it becomes much more prone to infection. Better safe than sorry. No matter how big your jewelry, you won't look cool with a swollen ear with pus dripping out.

BOTTOM LINE: Have fun with what you've got, but be careful. Your body is a wonderful, beautiful thing. Don't screw it up in the name of art or self-expression or (God forbid) being "cool".

Sarah tippeetoe@hotmail.com

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 15 April 1998
in Ear Piercing

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