Is Earlobe Piercing a “Real” Piercing?

Circular_barbellFor many piercing enthusiasts and general public, earlobe piercings are not “real” piercings. These are often not considered piercings in the true sense of the word, even though there is no much difference between them and any other piercing type, if we talk in technical terms. However, the way earlobe piercings are perceived differ greatly to that of other piercing.

Pierced earlobes (usually considered as: “pierced ears”) are fully socially acceptable, particularly for women. They are fully accepted to the point of not being considered a body modification at all.

The Earlobe Piercing

Technically speaking, the earlobe piercing is just like any other body piercing. It is performed on the body by piercing a hole through the tissue. It is the same mechanism as any other piercing type. As such, earlobe piercings are real and true body piercings.

What makes them different than other piercings is the public’s perception and level of acceptance. Earlobe piercings are socially acceptable in ways that other body piercings are not. This is particularly true for women, but even men with pierced earlobes do not face social stigma as much as people with other types of body piercings.

Earlobe piercing is so widespread that it’s often done on babies and infants. While it raises numerous ethical questions it’s very common to see a young child with pierced earlobes. Again, it is not considered unusual or on the same level as any other body modification.

Earlobe piercing is so popular – it is the most popular piercing in the world. One good thing about this is that it’s socially acceptable and easily made. All piercing studios in the world offer it and all piercers know how to perform it. However, the popularity of this piercing also means one downside: since earlobe piercings are so popular and not even considered “real” piercings, it may seem that anybody can perform it properly.

This is how you get all those botched earlobe piercings performed by friends or other non-professionals. This is how you get a bad practice of performing ear piercings with a piercing gun. Piercing guns are bad and should never be used to perform any kind of a piercing, including earlobe piercing. However, since earlobe piercings are often not considered piercings in the true sense of the word, some people think different rules apply. This is not correct: earlobe piercings are true piercings, even though the majority of people do not see them this way.

One Exception: Stretched Lobes

There is one huge exception to the general rule, though. Stretched earlobes are not considered an ordinary “ear piercing” and are seen as a more serious body modification. Even though most of them start as nothing more but an ordinary earlobe piercing, once you start stretching, especially to large gauges, the difference in perception shows.

As such, stretched lobes are considered more extreme and serious. They are not as socially acceptable as “regular” earlobe piercings. This is why some employers still prohibit their workers from having stretched lobes or force them to hide the lobes (or any other type of a “true” piercing).

Stretched lobes are considered a bigger deal even among the piercing enthusiasts. They are more difficult to get than regular earlobe piercing (since they require care and skill of stretching), and they are also more noticeable. Stretched lobes use specific types of jewelry, such as ear plugs and flesh tunnels, so it’s another thing that makes them different than “regular earlobe piercings”.

What about Other Ear Piercing Types?

Other types of ear piercings (done on parts of the ear other than the earlobe) are getting more and more popular and also more socially accepted. It is not uncommon to see a person with numerous ear cartilage piercings or other ear piercings. Some people who don’t like piercings in general will get multiple ear piercings.

As such, ear piercings are generally accepted among general public. That being said, most of these ear piercings are considered “real” piercings, unlike the earlobe piercing. It’s also uncommon (and often illegal) to pierce a baby’s ear on any other place than the earlobe. For these reasons, these ear piercings are considered true piercings, even though they are not perceived as extreme as some other forms of body piercings.

Different Types of Plugs

Acrylic Marble Plug

Acrylic Marble Plug

Plugs are poplar types of jewelry specially designed for large gauge piercings. They are made to be worn in stretched piercings. Most commonly, plugs are used as ear plugs, as jewelry for stretched earlobes.

However, it doesn’t mean plugs are made for stretched earlobes only. Many other stretched piercing types can accommodate plugs, from stretched nose piercings to transscrotal procedures. At the same time, plugs are commonly used or ear piercings so it’s not surprising that they are associated with stretched earlobes.

Plugs are similar in shape and appearance, but there are several different types to choose from. It’s important to know what these differences are so you can make the best choice for your piercing.

Basic Design

In many ways, all plugs look similar. These are short, cylindrical jewelry pieces made for stretched (large gauge) piercings. They are typically smooth so they are comfortable to wear.

Since plugs are thick and made in large diameters, they can be crafted using many materials not available for small gauge jewelry types. Organic materials such as wood, bone, horn, glass and stone are common. These materials make plugs look truly special.

On the other hand, plugs can be made using common body piercing materials typical for jewelry of all gauges, such as Surgical Steel, titanium or gold.

Types of Plugs

The basic design of a plug is often changed slightly. It makes for a slightly different type of a plug. While all plugs are worn in the same way, it’s important to know these differences in design.

The main difference comes from the way the plug is kept inside a piercing. Since the basic plug design is cylindrical, there has to be something preventing the plug to move or fall off from the piercing. This can be achieved in different ways, which influence the design of the plug itself. This is why you can find different types of plugs to buy.

The most common types of plugs include:

  • Basic plugs (Straight plugs). These plugs have a basic cylindrical design. They are kept in place by special O-rings. The O-rings are placed on both ends of the plug. The rings are soft and stretchable, so they keep the plug in place while being comfortable to the wearer. O-rings are often lost so it’s recommended to buy replacement rings. This way, you will always have one at hand.
  • Grooved plugs. They are a variation of basic plugs. They, too, require O-rings to keep the plug in place. The difference between them and the basic plugs is that they have grooves carved in the plug on both ends. These grooves are made to hold the O-rings snug. This way, the O-rings are more difficult to fall out so it’s less likely that you’ll lose them.
  • Double flared plugs (Saddled plugs). These plugs have flares outward on both ends, while the middle of the plug is thinner. The flares keep the plug in place, which means that no O-rings are needed with this design. This is a good choice for people who don’t like O-rings or who don’t want O-rings to change the aesthetics of the plug. However, the downside of double flared plugs is that they can be difficult to insert. Also, you need to have wide enough fistulas to accommodate for the flare during insertion.
  • Single flared plugs. These plugs have one flared end while the other end is straight (no flare). The flared end is worn on the front of the piercing. The flare prevents the plug from moving or falling out, so no O-ring is needed. The straight (non-flared) end on the back requires an O-ring. These rings give you the aesthetic appearance of a double flared plug (that uses no O-rings) without having to struggle to insert a double flared plug and without requiring large fistulas that can accommodate flares.

Differences in Decoration

Each of these plug types can be decorated in many different ways. Many plugs are made to be smooth and without much decoration. These plugs are simple yet elegant. In case an organic material is used the material’s own color and pattern serve as a unique plug decoration.

On the other hand, plugs can be decorated in many different ways. Plug made of titanium can have different colors because of anodization. Some plugs come with gems inserted on front, which makes them sparkly and very attractive.

When choosing a plug, it’s important to take into account your piercing and your style. Many of the decorated plugs are not recommended for certain piercing types, such as genital piercings. Genital piercings require smooth jewelry, preferably made of medical-grade materials.

For your stretched earlobes, you have a wide selection of ear plugs, starting from simple yet elegant ones to organic plugs and richly ornamented plugs with gems.

Transverse Lobe Piercing

Transverse LobeAre you a fan of ear piercings? There are so many interesting options to try. For those who appreciate simplicity with a touch or originality, a Transverse Lobe piercing may be the best way to go.

This piercing is simple yet effective. It uses the most commonly pierced body part – earlobe, but in a truly unique way. If you want to have a really interesting earlobe piercing, this one might be the right thing for you.

Procedure and Placement

Transverse lobe piercing is done on the earlobe. However, unlike the conventional earlobe piercing (which is the most popular piercing in the world), this type of piercing is done horizontally through the earlobe. While the usual way to pierce an earlobe is to go from front to back, a Transverse Lobe piercing goes a long way horizontally through the lobe.

As such, it creates a longer piercing hole and requires different jewelry types than a traditional earlobe piercing. However, it’s still a lobe piercing so it’s easy to perform and it’s almost pain-free.

The biggest advantage of a Transverse Lobe piercing is that you get a really cool and unique piercing with minimum pain. Keep in mind that this piercing doesn’t go through cartilage. It makes for a very quick and easy procedure that is not particularly uncomfortable.

The procedure is usually done freehand (without clamps). This is necessary due to the placement and length of the tissue that needs to be pierced. For these reasons, your piercer may use a receiving tube.

The procedure might be different for people with attached earlobes than for those with unattached. Those with unattached earlobes will typically be pierced with a straight needle while those with attached earlobes will be pierced with a curved needle. This may also influence the choice of jewelry.

Typically, a Transverse Lobe piercing is done with a 14 gauge or 16 gauge needle, which means you will need the same size of the jewelry.


The most popular jewelry type for Transverse Lobe is a barbell, either straight or curved. The balls of the barbell will lie on the opposite sides of your earlobe. Simple, elegant barbells work the best but you may also opt for more decorated options.

Typically, people with unattached earlobes will wear straight barbells in their piercing. Those with attached earlobes should opt for curved barbells.

You can get a Transverse Lobe piercing even if you already have a conventional lobe piercing. It looks particularly great for those who have a stretched lobe piercing. In these cases, the needle will go straight through your soft tunnels or plugs. Of course, flesh tunnels provide a much better visual effect and are recommended for this piercing combination.

If you prefer to wear metal flesh tunnels or large gauge jewelry made of another hard material, it’s possible to drill holes in the jewelry to accommodate a barbell for Transverse Lobe piercing, but this is, of course, more expensive and difficult to achieve.

Additional Info

  • In part, this type of piercing will depend on the anatomy of your earlobe. People will attached earlobes will get a slightly different placement and might want to wear a different type of jewelry than people with unattached earlobes.
  • The piercing hole is relatively long and there’s a lot of tissue to be pierced. Despite all of this, a Transverse lobe piercing is one of the least painful piercings you can get.
  • It’s possible to stretch a Transverse lobe piercing but you need to be careful. There is no much tissue to be stretched so you need to go slowly in order not to damage the tissue.
  • Transverse Lobe piercings heal quickly and usually pose no problems. Abscesses are the most common issues you may encounter. In order to prevent these problems, make sure to perform aftercare instructions carefully. They will help you avoid potential infections. Proper aftercare is also important to avoid migration and rejection.
  • The healing time for a Transverse Lobe piercing is around 2-3 months, though it may last as long as 10 months.
  • Since this type of piercing will require a barbell with a significant portion inside the tissue it’s vital to only wear jewelry made of body-friendly materials. Also, make sure that your jewelry barbell is long enough to accommodate your piercing.

Different Ear Piercings


Ears, July 2011


Most people that are into body modifications started with getting their ears pierced. Ear piercings are the oldest, most common, less extreme and more accepted of all body modifications. Piercing the ears can be found in all different kinds of cultures all over the world throughout history. Both men and women have been known to pierce their ears. Depending on the size and shape of one’s ear, there are many different parts of the ear that can be pierced.

 When your Ear is your Piercing Ground:

The ear lobe is the easiest, most common part of the ear that is pierced. This part of the ear can be stretched and gauged because of the type of tissue located in this area. A piercing gun is used to pierce the ear lobe. The ear piercing gun is designed in such a way, so that the ear can be pierced with the jewelry and the earring back be put on the end of the post of the earring, all in one shot. The cartilage of the ear, at the top part of the helix, is another popular area to have pierced. This piercing can be pierced with a piercing gun, however, it is not recommended because the force of the gun can cause cartilage to shatter and take the area longer to heal. The other areas of the ear are usually pierced with a hollow body piercing needle.

The helix is the upper rim part of the ear that goes down the outside about half way and meets the lobe. Many people have their helix pierced multiple times and put captive bead rings in them.  The conch is the portion of the ear that looks like a “shell” adjacent to the ear canal.  A barbell or captive bead ring is mostly worn in this area. The anti-helix is a ridge located under the helix and it contains the snug and rook. These piercings are very painful and harder to heal then most of the other ear piercings. The snug, located on the lower part of the anti-helix, is pierced with curved or straight barbells. The rook, the upper part of the anti-helix close to the head, can be pierced with a curved barbell or a captive bead ring. The folds of cartilage located closest to the ear canal is call a daith piercing. This can have a different variety of small gauge body jewelry put into the piercing.  The tragus piercing is the “little nub” over top of the ear canal.  The body jewelry used for this piercing are usually a captive bead ring, curved barbell or even labret studs.  The ridge located above the ear lobe has been labeled the anti-tragus. This is another painful piercing in the ear. And this piercing usually needs a curved barbell.

Another piercing that is often done is called the industrial. The industrial is when two separate piercings are connected with one barbell. Usually piercings within the helix are used to create an industrial piercing but some use other piercings in the ear and connect them. An orbital piercing is much like an industrial piercing in the sense that it connects two or more piercings, but instead of a barbell a ring is used.

Prong Set Gem Plug(s)


Prong Set Gem Plug

Prong Set Gem Plug

Prong Set Gem Plugs will draw a lot of attention to your lobe Piercings. The are not just your ordinary plugs because the gem is set in a prong setting instead of the bezel settings commonly seen anywhere. These are available in many Gauges to accommodate just about everyone’s piercings. Made from 316LVM Surgical Steel for quality and in the prong setting, the gem will really sparkle. Gem colors available are either clear or black only.