Tag Archives: Body Piercing Risks

Ear-Stretching-Dermal-Punch

It is always good to do your research before stretching your ears, but if you’re relying on search engines you may come across a method of dubious merit: stretching your ears with a dermal punch. As part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series I will explain exactly what a dermal punch is and whether you should use one to stretch your ears.


What Is A Dermal Punch?

Also known as a “biopsy punch”, a dermal punch is used by doctors to remove tissue for biopsy samples. You can see a typical dermal punch at the top of this post – the silver section is round and hollow with a sharp edge. It “punches” through the skin like a cookie cutter, removing a round section of tissue. Dermal punches come in a range of gauges and are disposable.


Is Dermal Punching A Good Way To Stretch Your Ears?

I do not recommend using a dermal punch to stretch your earlobes. This is because it removes a relatively large piece of your earlobe, including the blood vessels that supply the surrounding skin. Instead of stretching your earlobe, you have simply created a large hole. When you stretch your ears normally, you are gradually reshaping your lobes in a way that preserves the healthy tissue – dermal punching simply cuts it out. The surrounding tissue is less likely to remain healthy and is more susceptible to ear thinning. It is quick, painful and bloody, the opposite of gradual stretching.

People sometimes choose dermal punching as a shortcut to a certain gauge, intending to stretch normally after that. My advice is simply to be patient and stretch your ears normally. In the end you will have healthier ears, less pain, fewer problems and potentially bigger lobes.


Which Body Mods Are Dermal Punches Safe For?

Dermal punches do have a place in body modification. They can be used for large gauge cartilage piercings as well as some implant procedures. Cartilage can be very hard to stretch and more likely to scar, so a dermal punch allows you to create a large gauge piercing with less risk. It goes without saying that these are complex mods that should only be performed by an experienced professional piercer.

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


Stretching your ears can be done safely if you know how, but as with any body modification, there are risks involved. Some ear stretching risks are reversible but they can lead to scarring and permanent damage to your earlobes. Thankfully, most of these risks can be avoided through careful stretching and doing you research before you start stretching your ears. In this post I will explain three of the most common ear stretching risks, how to avoid them and what to do if they happen to you. As with any piercing problem, consult a professional piercer if you are at all unsure or experience other problems while stretching your ears.

Ear Stretching Blow-Out

Ear Stretching Blow-Out

Ear Stretching Blow-Out

A blow-out occurs when you stretch a piercing too quickly. This puts too much pressure on the fistula (the hole formed by the piercing) and force part of the fistula out the back of the piercing. This creates a lip or flap of skin at the back of the piercing. The image on the right shows a mild blow-out, but they can be much larger. Ear stretching blow-outs look terrible and larger ones can be uncomfortable or even painful. The best way to avoid a blow-out is to listen to your body, massage with jojoba oil before stretching and allow at least two weeks healing time in between stretching. If you get a blow-out, downsize your jewellery immediately – this can prevent the ear healing in its blown-out shape. I also recommend massaging the earlobe with jojoba oil daily to soften the tissue. Do not stretch further until it is completely healed. Some people find that their blow-outs reabsorb, but in some cases they will never fully disappear.


Uneven Stretching & Thinning

Uneven Stretching

Uneven Stretching

Uneven stretching means that the outside of your stretching becomes thinner in one area. It is caused by stretching too quickly or by stretching with weights. As well as looking odd, extreme thinning can lead to a split earlobe. A split earlobe can only be repaired through surgery, but if you catch the thinning early enough it is reversible.

If you notice any unevenness or thinning, downsize by at least 2mm and massage daily with jojoba or Vitamin E oil. It is important to use lightweight jewellery, so that no weight is put on the thin areas. Allow the stretching to shrink and heal for at least 2 weeks before restretching gradually with lightweight jewellery. This process should thicken the tissue and help to even it out.


Earlobe Tearing

Earlobe Tearing

Earlobe Tearing

Stretching too quickly or without lubrication can lead to tears around the circumference of the piercing, as shown here. Tears are painful and can lead to thick scar tissue that makes it harder to stretch further. They can be avoided by stretching slowly with a lubricant such as jojoba oil. It is also important to use high quality steel tapers and stop stretching if you feel a sharp pain.

If your earlobe tears while stretching, immediately downsize to significantly smaller, lightweight jewellery. This removes pressure on the wound and prevents a subsequent blow-out. Allow it to heal completely before stretching again.

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.