GSS | Gauging, Stretching & Scalpelling

GSS or gauging stretching and scalpelling are merely terms used to describe the enlarging of a piercing to increase its internal diameter to be able to wear larger more prominent jewellery. This procedure can be done to most piercings with special care taken when dealing with cartilage piercings as these piercings take much longer to stretch and are more prone to keloiding and hypertrophic scarring.
It is for this reason that dermal punches are used to rather remove the cartilage.

In order to safely stretch a piercing, one should only move up one gauge size per month. Better yet, wait more than a month between stretches. This is to prevent “blowout” or tearing of the fistula.

There are many methods used to stretch a piercing, the safest and most widely practiced by far is the Tapering
method, which is the method Beyond Body Modification uses. It is a method whereby conical blunt spikes, known as tapers are used to stretch the piercing. The tapers have one end that is the size or gauge of the current piercing and a thicker end that is roughly larger than the next gauge up, meaning slightly larger than the new jewellery that is to be inserted.

The procedure is as follows: With the aid of a hypoallergenic lubricant, the taper is slowly pushed all the way through the piercing until just before the thicker end disappears into the piercing. The jewellery is then held firmly against the thicker end and chases the taper through the entire piercing.

The other method practiced by Beyond Body Modification is a cheaper but more invasive method, known as Scalpelling. This is where an incision large enough is made through the tissue in order to fit a considerably larger piece of jewellery.

The Scalpelling method is usually used in conjunction with the taper method. Where, after the tissue is scalpelled the taper is then inserted and the jewellery is chased through. The reason for this is that the incision is made slightly smaller than the taper and jewellery, when the jewellery and taper is eventually chased through, it has to stretch the opening slightly to fit.
This slight pressure exerted from the jewellery upon the opening actually acts as a pressure” bandage” and helps stop the bleeding.

It is suggested that anyone who is unsure of the length of time they want their piercings stretched for be advised that stretching beyond 6mm, will decrease the piercing’s chances of shrinking back to its original size. This is by no means carved in stone, and is largely dependent on a person’s body.
Scalpelling beyond 3.2mm will also decrease the chances of the piercing back to the size of a standard initial piercing. Should the bearor of a piercing that is stretched too big decide they wish to no longer to have such large gauge piercings will have to have the tissue surgically reconstructed, which is a very costly procedure as it requires a plastic surgeon.
So be sure before you start stretching or commit to Scalpelling!

Stretch vs scalpel

Both Scalpelling and Stretching have their Pros and Cons:

Stretching

Scalpelling

Pros
  • Can shrink from 6mm back to normal over time.
  • Builds thicker, stronger tissue
  • Can shrink back from 3.2mm to normal over time.
  • Cheaper in the long run.
  • Desired gauge is more quickly achieved.
Cons
  • Is more expensive in the long run as larger jewellery is purchased with every stretch.
  • Slow process.
  • Larger than 3.2mm will never shrink down much.
  • Possible short term nerve damage.

What Types of piercings are commonly stretched?

The most commonly stretched piercings would most definitely be the earlobes… and contrary to popular belief, I would say next in line would be genital piercings, as it is more comfortable during sexual intercourse to have a snugly fit, large piece of jewellery in a genital piercing.

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