Although not as popular as ear stretching, septum stretching is catching on as piercings are becoming more mainstream in general. A stretched septum is a desirable look to people for many reasons. Stretched septum piercings allow for larger jewelry options, but there’s also the option to keep wearing normal-sized septum jewelry through a tunnel so that it’s more discreet.
It’s important to keep safety in mind. There are 3 ways to safely stretch your septum so that you avoid tearing the skin and tissue and so that you can minimize the chance of damage or infection.
While stretching your ears and stretching your septum are pretty similar, there is a major difference. This is that the septum is surrounded by cartilage, which is much denser tissue than earlobe tissue. This means that stretching to very large gauges (2g and up) might cause it to start rubbing or pressing up against the cartilage. Very large septum piercings may even cause the nose to change shape because stretching that much condenses/pushes some of that cartilage.
Otherwise, the basics are the same:
- Start with a healed piercing
- Stretch slowly
- Only stretch up on size or gauge at a time (one or two months in between)
- Do sea salt soaks twice a day for aftercare (for about 2 weeks)
1. Visit a Professional Piercing Shop
If you want to stretch your septum, the safest way is to see a professional piercer and have them stretch it. Or this is the best option if you just would prefer someone to do the actual process for you!
A professional piercer will ensure that you don’t stretch too much at once, and they will have all the appropriate tools (taper, new jewelry, a lubricant that is safe to stretch with) on hand so that you don’t have to worry about what to get. They will stretch your septum safely and smoothly and give you in-person pointers on how to take care of healing.
Use a Taper
If visiting a professional piercing shop isn’t an option, then you can still safely stretch your septum at home. You will need a taper, which is a long, straight, cone-shaped bar that gradually flares out to the larger size, so that a piercing can be gradually and evenly stretched. The end of the taper should be concave, so that the new piece of larger jewelry can push against it.
You will need a stretching-safe lubricant on hand. This can be a water-based lube like KY; an oil like emu oil, or jojoba oil; or you can buy Holey Buttr or Stretch-Up Salve, which are a made from natural ingredients and crafted specifically to use when stretching.
Lastly, you will need your new piece of jewelry, either a single-flared plug or a ring, that is only one size up from your current gauge.
You will want to be sure you have clean hands to start. Lubricate the taper, and press the end of the jewelry (nonflared side for the plug) against it. Grip both the jewelry and taper together and slowly push the jewelry forward to push the taper through. Keep going until the new jewelry is fully in the piercing. Take deep breaths and exhale when you push if you are nervous about discomfort/pain. Also, your eyes are going to water—have a tissue handy!
Allow one to two months between stretches to ensure the septum fully heals and recovers.
Get a Dermal Punch
The third way to safely stretch your septum, is to skip the stretching process and have a professional piercer use a dermal punch. You can most likely go from whatever size you are straight to the size you want (within reason). Dermal punching is the process of removing a circular section of skin all at once with a tool that is called a dermal punch.
Dermal punching also has the added benefit of removing some of the cartilage with it. And if there is less cartilage to condense, the nose shape won’t change as much for larger gauges.
The stretched or punched piercing will be sore and tender to the touch for at least a couple weeks. The best way to find relief is with salt-water soaks. Soak the stretched piercing twice a day (morning/night) with saline solution. Avoid using harsh chemicals like alcohol or hydrogen peroxide since they can cause further complications by irritating the healing tissue.
Then, be diligent about waiting a month or two before trying to stretch again. Just because the piercing has stopped being sensitive doesn’t mean it’s completely healed yet and trying to stretch before it’s healed can lead to tears or blowout.