How Long Can I Leave My Jewelry Out?

Piercees often want to know how long they can leave out their body jewelry before a hole closes. One man asked me just today:

I don't know if you can help or point me to someone who can, but I have a frenum with 3 (originally had 4) ten gauage 5/8" bars.  I have had them for over two years and want to be able to remove them for several hours when the mood hits my wife -- we are now getting into tantric activity. Here is the problem:  I removed them several months ago for about 1 1/2 hours and when I went to re-insert the bars, one piercing had closed so much I could not get the bar in one, so I lost it (I have a taper). My questions: 1.  Could I leave it out longer (say 2-3 hours) if I stretched to 8 guage? 2.  Would it help if I inserted a lubricant such as emu oil when I remove the jewelry? Any views would be most appreciated. L.

Hi L. Thank you for your email. Even though I literally "wrote the book" on piercing, I can't answer your question with certainty--nobody could, because human bodies vary so widely on this matter. In general, the suggestion is: if you like your piercing, leave something in it at all times. Some people's piercings shrink within minutes of removing the jewelry. A technique for large gauge piercings called "resting" involves removing jewelry and some of the principles apply to you. This is from my book:

Resting A technique called resting or relaxing is the practice of removing large-gauge jewelry (approximately 2 gauge and thicker) for a time each day or night. This is to relieve the tissue of the jewelry’s weight and pressure. It may help to promote healthier skin by increasing circulation, especially at the bottom of the piercing, which supports most of the burden. Experiment to determine the amount of time your jewelry can be removed without the hole shrinking too much. Generally, the longer you have worn a particular size, the easier this becomes. Some individuals leave jewelry out overnight and slide it right back in the next morning. Others go without their jewelry for only an hour or so before the hole starts to feel uncomfortably tight during reinsertion. Try removing your jew- elry for successively longer periods until you find your comfortable interval. Ideally, you want to leave it out for as long as possible, but reinsert it before the hole shrinks enough to cause you discomfort during reinsertion. If you run into trouble getting your jewelry back in, do a warm saline soak and use some lubricant and possibly a taper, too. Wait until the tissue has recovered for at least a week or two before making another attempt at resting your piercing. If you stretch up to a larger gauge it might help give you a little longer before your jewelry is hard to insert, but there are no guarantees. Tissue is . . . unique. You might want to invest in a smaller taper, too. After you take the jewelry out, your 10 gauge jewelry might not fit right back in, but if you had a 14 gauge taper, you could probably get it through the channel, and stretch back up over time, to avoid irritating the piercing. Depending on how uncooperative your tissue is, you might need a set of smaller bars to help with the process, too. Consider bioplast (a flexible inert plastic) which is less expensive than metal. It is definitely a good  idea to use a lubricant for any stretching or reinsertion. It might help, but I don't see it as a panacea for your problem. I hope this information proves useful. Let me know if you have other questions, Angel