It’s time to talk about ear stretching once more! Some of you may already know I have a guide to general ear stretching on my blog, and another about unsafe jewelry materials to avoid, and one about caring for and cleaning your plugs. All are worthwhile reads before getting into this blog, which will touch on some more advanced concepts surrounding ear stretching.
More specifically, today I want to talk about stretching your second or third lobe piercings. There’s no shortage of information online about stretching standard first lobes, that’s well covered. But what about when folks want to stretch their seconds or their thirds? Is it exactly the same? Are there different considerations? Let’s look into it!
When it comes to stretching further up the lobe, the same general principles of stretching apply- going slowly, using single flare glass, listening to your body, etc etc. After all, we are still stretching a lobe piercing. And for many of us, our firsts may have been done unprofessionally with piercing guns- but our seconds and thirds may have been done by an actual piercer and be a little healthier and more stable. Which can also mean in some ways easier to stretch. That is great and exactly what we want! However, they often sit closer to cartilage, and depending on the setup of your lobes may interact with other existing piercings. This can mean that these may be slower to stretch, and take longer between sizes to be ready to go up. This is normal, and it’s important not to rush the stretching process. If stretching these is super easy for you- great! But if you find this process more challenging then stretching your firsts, that's ok to. Always listen to your body, take your time with stretching and don’t rush or force things.
Seconds and thirds aren’t magically different earlobes than your first lobes, so you don't need any extra tools or any special jewelry. Single flare glass in .5-1mm increments is perfect. And of course, patience is the most important ingredient in safe, successful stretching. Since seconds and thirds may take longer to stretch, being patient with them is key. Beyond that, there are some differences to expect with stretching these placements.
When it comes to stretching any piercing but especially seconds and thirds, placement matters! And not just of the piercing you are stretching, but of the ones around it.
To start, the placement of your first lobe piercing. Is it stretched or is it not? For most folks considering stretching their seconds or thirds, they have a stretched first lobe already. This means we have to consider this first lobe piercing when we decide to stretch the next. Ideally, you'll want your first lobe to be at or close to your goal size before beginning to stretch your second or third. This is because as we stretch our lobe we are often displacing the tissue surrounding it. To the point that what was my second and third lobe piercings are now part of my stretched lobe piercing- that’s how much that tissue moves and shifts as we stretch! I am at 38mm in my lobes, and if I were to have started stretching my seconds when I was at say 15mm, I would have encountered issues pretty quickly as my goal size didn’t end up being compatible with stretching that placement. So you'll want your first to be at or within a few mm of your goal before you start stretching your seconds or thirds. This also gives you time to adjust placement- sure you may have a little more room than I did where your second won't end up inside your stretched first lobe. But it might be literally right next to it- not very conducive for stretching.
Fortunately, it's super easy to simply get a new lobe piercing that works with the way everything sits around your stretched lobe! And since you know stretching is your goal you could always start slightly larger, and jumpstart that stretching process!
If your firsts are stretched, we ideally want enough space between them that the flares don’t touch and there is plenty of healthy tissue between the two piercings. If we stretch a second or third lobe that is too close to an existing stretched piercing, there is the risk of them tearing into each other, or the tissue between them becoming damaged and having issues. It’s so crucial if you are planning to stretch your other lobe piercings that you be mindful of placement and consider that with your goal sizes.
Now what if folks don’t have their first lobe stretched- what if they only want to stretch their second or third? Well, we still need to take placement into consideration. As I mentioned above, the opposite could happen with my second and third becoming part of my stretched ear. If your first and second aren't spaced well, you could very quickly end up unable to wear earrings in your first because they are resting too close to your second lobe as you stretch.
Regardless of if you have a stretched first lobe or not, I think it’s worth seeing a piercer with experience in stretching who can assess your anatomy, and placement around your existing piercings, and make sure everything is placed well for safe stretching and your goals to actually be reached. You may need to adjust goal sizes as you stretch to accommodate for existing piercings and anatomy and that’s ok too! This is about the journey, not the destination.
Now placement matters for existing piercings, but it also matters for how it affects stretching. As we get up into second and third lobe placements, we are also much closer to the cartilage of our ear. And this can also affect the stretching process. For most, this is a nonissue on their first lobes unless they are placed too high, or someone has limited lobe anatomy and their cartilage is very close. With seconds and thirds, it's much more common to encounter this. This can look like stretching taking longer between sizes to be ready, eventually running into issues with the piercing rubbing or pressing against the cartilage and being uncomfortable, or changes in the shape of the lobe and how it sits due to the proximity to cartilage. This may affect you greatly in your stretching process or may not at all. Everyone's ears, anatomy, and experience is different. But if you notice something doesn’t feel right, or doesn't look right, follow up with an experienced piercer and see if everything is ok.
As I mentioned above, for actual stretching single flare plugs are great when it comes to all lobe stretching. They are safe, affordable, and easy to use. But what about when it comes to decorative plugs, hangers, weights, etc.? Is that different? It totally can be!
The biggest difference is making sure jewelry fits with each other. And if you have a stretched first lobe piercing, this becomes a really important element. Most folks once they hit their goal size are going to want to wear double flare jewelry, it's more secure, more comfortable, and allows for a range of cool new styles. But the flare is larger than the actual piercing channel. This means you have to be super aware of flare sizes, lest your first and second end up hitting each other and pushing at odd angles. For example, my 38mm plugs sometimes have a 40mm or 42mm front flare- it nearly covers my second lobe piercings. If those were also stretched, I would need to order reduced flare pieces for my firsts- or wear silicone eyelets or nothing in my seconds with certain pairs. So figuring out the math to allow all your pieces to fit the way you want them to maybe a unique challenge.
Beyond that, we know seconds and thirds can sit closer to cartilage. This can make shaped plugs like teardrops and ovals sometimes more uncomfortable as they put more pressure upward toward the cartilage. Many folks can't comfortably wear these styles for extended periods of time due to this. The same can go for weights and hangers. Be mindful of how they sit and wear, and where they put pressure. You could accidentally hurt yourself or your ears if you aren't careful. Above everything else, listen to your body! If something doesn’t feel right, take that seriously and give your ears a break.
If you are considering adding some extra stretched holes to your lobes, I really hope this blog post helped you understand some of the additional considerations needed! As always, happy stretching!