It’s pretty common to stretch your lobes – It’s difficult to walk into a tattoo or piercing studio without seeing at least a few people with stretched lobes! However did you know it’s possible to stretch most piercings? Today we will talk about another piercing that can be stretched. Septums.
Firstly, we should talk about the anatomy involved in a septum piercing. Septum piercings are through the ‘sweet spot.’ This sweet spot is a thin, membranous section of the nasal vestibule which is often high and tight to the tip of the nose. This means that a correctly performed septum piercing does not pass through any thick cartilage. However, this thin section of tissue is still not soft and elastic like lobe tissue is! The septum is quite a robust area of anatomy, which makes stretching a unique challenge.
How to Stretch
We highly recommend finding a reputable piercer to help you stretch your septum. It can be a sore process, so it’s best to let a professional make the experience as smooth as possible. Find your nearest UKAPP or APP member studio and enquire as to wether this is a service they offer! Septum stretching is difficult, and not something that is ideally done at home.
Septums should be stretched using a taper and plenty of water-based lubricant. Ideally, your insertion taper should be exactly the same thickness as your jewellery to avoid discomfort during the jewellery installation process. Your piercer will be able to order and install implant-grade or body safe jewellery in the correct size and design for you, using safe and sterile tools to do so. Please note that not all jewellery is created equally, so ensure you are wearing safe materials!
Your piercer may ask you to lie down or sit up for the stretch itself. As with a piercing, you will be asked to take a slow breath in, and a long breath out while the taper and jewellery are inserted. The stretch itself takes mere seconds, and then jewellery is installed immediately.
How Often Can You Stretch?
As mentioned above, this is not like stretching an elastic lobe piercing. Septum piercings are more similar to cartilage piercings, and as such cannot be safely stretched relatively quickly. We recommend waiting at least 6-8 months between stretches and only stretching by 0.5mm at a time to avoid seriously damaging your piercing. Stretching septum piercings can take a lifetime if you want it to!
If you know you want to go large, you want to jump-start the process and save yourself a bit of time, then it is definitely worth getting a large-gauge initial septum piercing. We can comfortably pierce septums up to 4mm or 6g if your anatomy is suitable. To stretch from 16g to 6g, leaving the recommended 6-8 months in between, can take roughly two and a half to three years. To have a fully healed initial 6g septum, it can take just 6 months from your initial piercing!
Stretching vs Stacking
There are two main ways of stretching – Traditional stretching and stacking! Traditional stretching means inserting a single, larger piece of jewellery. Stacking is the process of inserting more and more small rings into your piercing. This does make a difference! The main difference between the two is that the end shape of your piercing will be dramatically different. When stretching with a single piece of jewellery, you are stretching in every direction with equal pressure so you end up with a perfectly round hole. When stacking with rings, each ring will want to sit behind the one in front and so the pressure will only extend to one direction. This means you end up with a shape more akin to a slot than a circle. You can see some excellent, highly artistic diagrams that I have drawn to illustrate this point.
Stretching a septum with a single piece means that you have a perfectly circular hole, whereas a stack gives you in effect a septum coinslot. There is no real benefit to either style, but it does make it trickier to switch between styles. If you try and stack lots of rings into a circular hole then it is tricky to fit as many rings in as you would in a stack as they will all jumble together. If you try and wear a single large piece in a septum stretched using the stacking method, then you can experience discomfort as you distort the inevitable scar tissue caused by the uneven pressure of this method.
The jewellery options for stretched septums is pretty much the same as a standard septum piercing, with some fun additional extras! We love wearing glass in large-gauge piercings. Kat has quite the collection of Gorilla Glass septum pincers, which are the perfect everyday items as they are smooth, comfortable and not super obtrusive.
How Big Can You Go?
There really isn’t a hard and fast upper limit for septum piercings. It really depends on your anatomy, the placement of your existing piercing, and how much time and effort you are willing to invest! Some septums can be stretched to 15-20mm, some are happier around 5mm. If your piercing is poorly placed or your anatomy is not ideal, then a smaller stretch is probably a better idea. This is something that can be assessed by your piercer as you start or continue your stretching journey.
One thing to keep in mind is that the ‘sweet spot’ is only so large. This means that as you stretch, you will eventually run out of space within the sweet spot and begin stretching in to true cartilage. Cartilage doesn’t stretch, so septum stretching does become a war of attrition. This stage of stretching can be very uncomfortable and extends the time needed between stretches! I have now personally reaching that point at 4mm, but everyone is different. The best thing to do is stay in contact with your piercer! This stage of stretching is definitely best left to the professionals.
Septum stretching is a long but rewarding process. It’s cool to see the jewellery you used to wear in comparison to what you wear now.
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