During my freshman year of college, I began stretching my ears. I started off my journey with a rainbow titanium stretching kit that contained tapers and tunnels, beginning with an 18g or 1mm (which is a standard piercing size) and ending at a 00g or 10mm. In that first night, I was able to go up a few sizes, as years of wearing dangle earrings and hoops had stretched out my existing piercing holes. Over the next nine months, I slowly sized up from about a 14g to my goal size, which was 00g. As a child of tumblr, I had this size in mind for a while and part of the reason I set it as my goal was because I was told that this was the last size you could downsize (without surgery) completely from. After I reached my goal, I started accessorizing my lobes with plugs and soon realized which materials I favored. For me personally, I preferred stone, as they were more comfortable than wood and healthier than acrylic. But, as anyone who wears plugs will know, stone is a pretty heavy material.
Over the next five years, I continued to wear stone and as I did, my ears began to size up naturally due to the weight of my plugs. I would know it was time to size up when my plugs would fall out without me (or someone else touching them) and I’d go up to the next size. And it would get pretty inconvenient, as I had plugs fall out on the subway, into the toilet and get lost behind my bed. This pattern continued until I reached my biggest size, which was 3/4″ or 19mm. This was nearly double my intended goal size, however, aesthetically I didn’t mind having larger lobes.
But, having plugs is more than just how they look and ultimately after almost six years, I decided that I was ready to move on. There are many reasons why someone would close up their stretched ears and for some, they’ll hold onto them for the rest of their life. Personally, I wanted to wear “normal” earrings again and I never really warmed up to what my ears looked like without my plugs in. Plus, mine never smelled the best.
Once I decided to go through with closing them up, I found a plastic surgeon and went in for a consultation. The consultation allowed the surgeon to evaluate what state my lobes were in and how they’d need to go about reconstructing them. Luckily for me, I’d been born with detached lobes and there was still plenty of thick tissue to work with. However, if you’re closing your ears up from a much larger size or have damaged tissue (such as from a blowout), don’t fret. I have plenty of friends who’ve closed up their stretched ears who sized up to 1 to 2″ and their lobes look totally normal after the procedure. They may be a bit smaller than your average lobe or resemble attached lobes, but they can still wear normal earrings after getting them repierced.
My procedure involved the surgeon cutting off the damaged tissue (which for me, was the inside of the stretched ear hole) and then stitching up my lobes to recreate the standard shape. Each procedure will differ depending on the person, which makes consultations with your surgeon paramount.
Once the procedure was done, the healing period began and I left the office with two types of stitches in each ear— removable blue stitches in the front and clear dissolving stitches in the back. Before going to bed that night, I gently cleaned the stitches with a saline spray. I didn’t use a q-tip or a wash cloth, as the fibers can get stuck and cause infections, instead spraying the saline directing onto my lobes. I didn’t try to remove any scabs that may have formed, as you want to let these fall off naturally and touch them as little as possible. Then I used medical tape to attach adhesive-less bandages to my ears, so not to disrupt the stitches in my sleep. When I woke up the next day, I had some pain in my ears and the sides of my head—but it wasn’t unmanageable and could be handled with Advil. I continued this process for the next week, until my followup where the blue front stitches were removed.
Once I reached this stage, I continued to clean the lobes with saline twice a day and waited for the back stitches to dissolve. It took about two months for those stitches to dissolve and once they did, I began massaging my lobes with vitamin e oil. I personally would recommend massaging your ears with oil (whether it be vitamin e or an alternative) because it helps to break up the scar tissue. Although, you want to massage your lobes gently, as to not cause further damage.
My surgeon recommended I wait at least six months to get my ears repierced, that way the scars on my ears would be completely healed. I would definitely recommend waiting as long as you can, because everyone’s body is different and your ears may need extra time to settle. Once it came time to getting my ears repierced, I made sure to go to a professional piercer, unlike my first time when I’d visited a Claire’s on my 12th birthday. Going to a professional will ensure that it’s safe and clean, plus they’ll be able to place them properly. Piercings should also never be done with a gun, as this can cause damage to your ears and it’s less sanitary.
It’s been almost a year since I got my lobes stitched up and I couldn’t be happier with the results. I honestly have no regrets about my decision to have my ears stretched, as I loved having them for five years, and similarly, I have no regrets about my choice to get them closed. Now, I have the rest of my life to wear (or not wear) earrings and unless I tell people, no one could ever tell I used to have 3/4″ stretched ears.