"The Original Ear Expander"

I’ve actually seen a few designs of these in the past, but this particular example was made by Kolo Narvaez.

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by BMEzine.com LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by BMEzine.com LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

69 thoughts on “"The Original Ear Expander"

  1. Maybe I’m just a dumbass, but what are the mechanics of this? Are you simply turning screws, or what?

  2. Call me old fashioned, but I think I’ll stick to stretching to old way :P

    I do think it makes for a killer piece of jewelry though! I’d totally wear those around!

  3. yeah, # 3, i have seen very very bad results from someone trying to stretch with kaos…such as it suggests on the website/anywhere you buy them.

  4. Carolyn, it seems indeed like it’s just turning screws. Some retainers (especially those that you push up into the palate and screw to widen it over time) have pretty much the same mechanics as the expander. The more you screw the further the segments move from the center.

    It’s a really neat concept, though it would be cool if one could make an expander that’s fully circular and not segmented like the one in the pictures. Though, the mechanics of such a thing would probably involve more like an inflatable plug like thing which you can gradually fill with liquid. This is just me throwing out ideas though, I have no idea if it’s actually a viable solution.

  5. Oh yeah, about stretching with Kaos, does anyone have any concrete (as in pictoral or first hand descriptions) examples of what happened? All I’ve heard have been vague warnings retold without any real concrete explanation of what can actually happen.

    I have (despite warnings) stretched from 2ga to 0 ga with the Kaos tunnels and haven’t had a problem, though I do recognize that because of the ease of stretching overstretching could definitely be a problem.

  6. I tried to stretch with Kaos from 00g to 7/16″. My lobes had been at 00g for about 6 months, so I didn’t think it would be a problem. I tried the new plugs they have, the parylene covered eyelets. It irritated my lobes horribly and I had a really hard time getting the new plugs out. I’ve had to downsize because if it… definetly wouldn’t recommend them for stretching, but I have no problem with them at healed sizes.

  7. were can i buy these not really for the stretching aspect more the just for jewelry

  8. I’ve never had problems stretching with Kaos either. I went from 7/16″ to 1/2″ with kaos and from 1/2″ to 9/16″ with Kaos. I probably won’t be using Kaos to get to 5/8″ though.

    Either way, those are interesting. Can’t imagine they’d be comfy to sleep in though.

  9. please please please do not streatch with kaos!!! i had problems a while back with streatching with kaos! also more recently i have a friend that got a horrible infection from streatching with kaos. they are amazingly awesome plugs but horrible for fresh streatches.

  10. interesting idea. but the fact that its not round is a drag. im really not into misshapen lobes. ill stick with good old teflon tape for now. ive also attempted stretching with kaos. i was stupid enough to think i could go from 00 to 1/2. i had already stretched one ear from 00 to 1/2 inch in twenty minutes with a sharpie, and i didnt feel like repeating that so i bought a pair of 1/2 kaos. it got stuck in my ear and i had too use medical scissors to cut the eyelet up to get it out. twas not fun.

  11. my lobes had been at half inch for six months…. the first time I wore my kaos tunnels overnight, they tore a little hole in my left lobe, which got infrected and ended up closing up, though it just severely irritated the other one. I pretty much lost both of those holes.

  12. I tried stretching with Kaos also. Don’t do it. I was going from 00g to 7/16″, but had to go all the way back to 4g because my ears got sooo swollen and pissed off. It seemed like a quick and easy way to go… but was not worth it at all!

    I think the concept of mechanical lobe expander’s are cool, but I could definitely see that it would cause a lot of problems if it went on the market. A lot of inexperienced and/or impatient people could possibly stretch too fast and mangle their lobes.

  13. You would have to start off fairly big, already.
    I’ve stretched from 2-0ga, and 0-00ga with kaos and had no problems.
    But I wouldn’t do it again, I’d prefer not to push my luck.

  14. I’ve heard that they can cause irritation to the point of actually bleeding. I’m not taking any chances with Kaos, myself.

  15. WHAAAT thats so sweet! I would love to see the other designs you said you’ve seen! Ive alawys wanted something when I was younger since ive had streched lobes from the age of 12, but my ideas were alawys so much more ghetto like sticking a baloon in your ear and blowing it up but have some sort of cap or lip to keep it from buldgeing out the sides. haha and everyday just adding a small breath! Man I need to get out more!

  16. MrPumpernickel, my brother has that kind of retainer; I thought the mechanics would be similar, just wasn’t sure.

    If there are four separate screws for north/south/east/west, it would seem to be kind of difficult to maintain uniformity. I agree w/ other posters; I’d rather have something uniform and round to stretch with. It seems that even using something like the unsegmented ring shown in the left picture would eliminate some of the uneven nature of the design, although then I guess it would have to be made out of some sort of pliable material that would be safe for stretching. *shrugs* I’m happy stretching the old way.

  17. I’ve been streching with Koas Softwear since I’ve been
    at 1/2″. I’m 1″ now, no problems, no blowouts, not even any pain really, then again, its taken me 4 years to get to to 1/2″, and about 3 years to go from 1/2″ to the full 1″.

    Slow and steady….

    …these look like you’d be moving too fast… although they look fuckin’ cool.

  18. What a lazy piece of junk.

    Stretching is about the process and the dedication coupled with the respect for your body.

    This device is rather typical of the attitude of many people into body modification these days.

    Do it properly or not at all.

  19. Hadnt thought about the process much, but I didn’t realise lobe stretching would take such a long time. But I guess new skin has to grow.

  20. This looks like it’d be handy for people who don’t like buying lots of new plugs. Obviously it doesn’t look ideal actually for stretching, but once you’d stretched properly, you could just keep using the same plug and just widening it up to the right size each time.

  21. I have personally stretched with Kaos with no problem. However, I have also seem many people have serious problems stretching with Kaos.

    IF you’re going to stretch with Kaos, which is not officially recommended, here are my comments:

    1. STOP if you have any tearing or other complications.
    2. Go slow
    3. Make sure you have NEW plugs (the new designs are less “sticky” and safer for stretching).

    My feeling is that the ideal way to stretch is UNFINISHED (ie. slightly rough) homemade hardwood plugs assuming you have no reaction. But to really do the you have to have a lathe so you can machine all the steps… But the rough wood gives you a really health end product in my opinion.

  22. I can definitely second what Shannon just said, but really, going slow and stopping if you tear is pretty much the alpha and the omega of any stretching. We’ll see what I’ll use in the future, Kaos is but one choice, though I’ve never had any problems stretching with either steel, titanium, acrylic or wood in the past either. Then again, I’m a real slow stretcher so I have never torn anything (to the best of my recollection) either.

    Giles, I don’t really understand where you’re coming from with that comment. Experimentation is a huge part of body modification. If some dude eons ago never thought to experiment with his own body we wouldn’t be sitting here today. I welcome things like this, even though it may never be commonplace it’s always nice to see people conceptualize their ideas, regardless if it’ll work or not.

  23. I did a fairly small stretch with Kaos jewelry, from 6 to 8 mm. There was a fair amount of tearing, and the problem was, the pressure from the jewelery prevented the newly stretched skin from breathing properly (or at all).

    Consequence: After two days of pain, blood and yellow splodge pouring out of canal when pressure was released, I realised this wasn’t doing it. I guess I’ve learned my lesson now, since I’m streching extra slow… But even so, I’ve had to start from scratch, as that lobe closed to maybe 1mm.

    The main problem with Kaos squishies is that they unfold suddenly, so you don’t have any the control over the pain/tearing that you have with a taper, with which you can just stop before you do too much damage.
    Don’t try it unless you don’t mind having to start from scratch again. It’s a gamble…

  24. I find these ‘gizmos’ take away from the ritual and dedication that comes with stretching lobes. They belittle the focus of mind that goes hand in hand with the process of adapting your body in such a way.

    It’s a short cut, a quick method, a lazy gadget where the user simply has to turn a screw and think nothing of it.

    It takes no discipline to do, it bypasses the knowledge that body modifiers have spent decades perfecting so that those wishing to stretch can learn from.

    In effect it detaches itself from the tribal roots where this decoration originated and gives it a western twist.

    It’s part of the quick-fix culture we live in where results do not come from dedication and discipline but can be had from simply flicking a switch, pushing a button or turning a screw.

  25. #35, Well said, means alot more when you explain why you think it’s junk, I think it looks cool as a piece of jewelry but not as a way to stretch,

    I said I would never try stretching with kaos but I ordered a 7/16 ear skin for my septum as I planned on stretching it up from the 00 I was at, I noticed how loose my septum was getting and that I could fit a 00 pincher through the tunnel I was wearing, so I poped the 7/16ths one in, there was a little bit of pain and pressure on my gums and that was about it for the rest of the night, the next day my septum was hell of crusty and sore as hell, I stuck it out for another day but after cleaning bloody crust from around the edges I pulled it out and went back to 00, I could have stuck out the pain as it was’nt that bad, I just did’nt want to deal with it. Those silicone earskins are the most comfortable piece of jewelry I have had for my septum though,

  26. Okay, I see what you mean Giles, but at the same time to me the use of contemporary and new tools doesn’t negate that one can pay respect to the practices that came before you. I mean, just because this expander looks like it does doesn’t mean it’s a “quick fix” nor does it mean that the user is looking to stretch as fast or as easy as possible. The only one who can really answer that is the originator (and user, in case they’re different people). In the end, what is really so different from using this to slowly stretch to using a taper to slowly stretch? They may look different but the result and methodology (i.e. stretching a fistula) is still the same.

    I encourage things like this, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think one should pay respect to ones history. However, without things such as the expander, or other innovative ideas, we’re not going to move forward. If we’re only looking at our past we’re not looking forward and then everything stagnates. As said, I don’t think one negates the other.

  27. i would still like to know where i can obtain these mechanics to try them out and see if its is a better stretch or not

  28. i would still like to know where i can obtain these mechanics to try them out and see if its is a better stretch or not i’ved tried the web with no luck so if anyone would be soo kind as to let me know

  29. i would still like to know where i can obtain these mechanics to try them out and see if its is a better stretch or not i’ved tried the web with no luck so if anyone would be soo kind as to let me know?

  30. i would still like to know where i can obtain these mechanics to try them out and see if its is a better stretch or not i’ved tried the web with no luck so if anyone would be soo kind as to let me know?

  31. i would still like to know where i can obtain these mechanics to try them out and see if its is a better stretch or not i’ved tried the web with no luck so if anyone would be soo kind as to let me know?

  32. i would still like to know where i can obtain these mechanics to try them out and see if its is a better stretch or not i’ved tried the web with no luck so if anyone would be soo kind as to let me know?

  33. i would still like to know where i can obtain these mechanics to try them out and see if its is a better stretch or not i’ved tried the web with no luck so if anyone would be soo kind as to let me know?

  34. Haha this thing has existed in my head for so long, nice to see that someone realized it :D

  35. i think people misinterpreted my original comment about the kaos.. when you think about it, kaos have a similar concept. they expand from the outside in (which i think in any case is superior to tapering, because it expands uniformly in all directions as opposed to pushing the skin out the back). i think kaos are extremely useful when used right. i went from 1/2″ to 9/16″ with kaos, and to 5/8″ not long after and it went so smoothly. no pain, no tension, no tears, no blood, no discomfort, nothing. people do have a tendecy to abuse kaos though and put them in just cause they “fit” as opposed to when their lobes are ready for it. i am at 7/8″ now and i put in 1″ kaos just for kicks.. and they fit, but i felt tension and discomfort in my lobes so i took them out right after (not ever intending on leaving them in anyway). like shannon said, some people have really great experiences (like myself) and some people don’t (as other commenters have pointed out. though i notice the worst experiences are when people ignore what their lobes are feeling and leave the kaos in anyway). anywho, kaos are great when you are taping just to go that extra step to reach the next size. i apologize if my initial comment seemed ignorant, but i assure you that i know what i’m talking about. it just seemed to me like the contraption in the post was a spring-loaded expander as opposed to a gradual screw-based expander. hence the kaos comment.

  36. I think I would like a pair of these as a novelty. They’re very neat looking but I prefer stretching the old way myself. And to xchristinex, it’s not always about ‘using kaos properly’, I had worn them in fairly newly stretched lobes (NOT stretched with kaos) and I did not feel a single thing until I went to take them out and my ears were a bloody mess, thanks to the tackiness of the jewelry.

  37. i just put 1/2″ from 7/16″ in my second lobe hole.. i have worn 1 1/8″ for quite some time now in my bottom hole… my second hole is pretty irritated, but i plan on sticking out the pain of this one instead of trying to take it out and let it close up. it has hurt for about 4 days now on and off… i have enough skin to where if it rips, it will rip up or down and not out… i will give you a update on if it ever quits hurting or not or if it is even possible for them to heal… someone has to try it…

  38. by the way.. i was referring to using kaos for these… i also stretched my lobes to a inch in a year from not being peirced at all… so i am guessing the elasticy of my skin may help…

  39. #9 (Mr Pumpernickel)- what if you got a circle made out of curved segments that could slide against each other, sort of like a camera aperture? You’d have the problem of the pieces sliding against the lobe, but it would give you a more or less round piece to work with.
    I don’t know if this would/will actually work (I’m no engineer), but I think it has potential.
    Hell, do it in a matte black, and it would look badass!
    For that matter… how ’bout a regular tunnel/eyelet with a camera aperture in it? Maybe a little lever you could use to open and close it… Damn, I wish I had the skill to build these things!

  40. hey, what would happen if the mechanism inside broke and it just kinda…popped open all the way….ouch

  41. The biggest flaw I see with this design is it’s not going to apply uniform pressure to the lobe.

    It’s the same problem that stretching with silicone creates, when certain parts of the lobe adhere to the tacky silicone surface.

  42. Anselm, I have a hard time seeing something like that working, though I may be imagining it differently than you are. I don’t know how it would work with gradually expanding it either since you’d have to put that mechanism either inside or behind the aperture itself. Interesting idea though.

    Kaylee, it wouldn’t do that since there is no tension in the mechanism. For it to “pop open all the way” you would actually have to turn the screws manually all the way yourself, the screws won’t open themselves automatically.

  43. I might be wrong, and liked to be corrected if I am…

    I taugh Kaos were a bad idea to stretch since they created pressur on a small part of the lobe rather than the whole lobe. Meaning that only a small part of the lobe will actually stretch.

    These seems to me like they will create the same type of problems since only 4 specific points will stretch, and assuming you don’T spin them around, wouldn’t they cause partial excess stretching?

    But I have to agree, they look nice for a novelty jewelry.

  44. Helen- the uneven pressure is exactly what I was thinking. In all reality though I think most people will be able to stretch with these just fine. Personally, I wouldn’t trust my lobes to them and prefer the more traditional methods anyway. It would look cool as jewelry though.

  45. For those wondering about kaos…

    I wrote an experience about my terrible kaos ordeal:

    I’m pretty sure I’m not one of the first to have had some major problems with it when it first came out to the public, however I think mine might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, persay… At the end of my experience, shannon took the liberty to add:

    “Note: It is important to note that since Marsdweller had this experience, KAOS SOFTWEAR has officially recommended that their jewelry not be used for stretching.”

    I don’t know if he added that to all the kaos bad experiences, but… that said enough for me…

    My experience was terrifying, painful both emotionally and physically, and if I can do anything to stop atleast one more person to from stretching with kaos, i’d do it all.

    If you want pictures, check out the BME Encyclopedia, Risks Edition. There are all sorts of pictures of lobe problems, which all occur with Kaos stretching problems.

    That being said.. that contraption looks great! as long as the edge are well lubed up not to have any friction/tearing, i think its a great idea!

  46. well.. most of the dead skin has fell off today.. the skin that some what overlapped the kaos plugs.. the throbbing has went away… it took about a week for it to completely subside… i failed to mention that i kept single flared steel 1/2″ plugs for two days prior to putting kaos in… not everyone is as lucky as me, and i’m sure that it being my second hole in my lobe helps out tremendously… the only problem i have now is that the lip of the plug is putting pressure on my conch, but i am sure this pain will surely dissapate soon as well…

  47. amazing…I love it……hey #27……this product doesn’t promote stretching faster than suggested, it just eliminates multiple pieces of jewelry. The fact that it is in segments wouldn’t make any difference if you turn it a bit once or twice a day…….duh……..well designed, and very cool looking

  48. I stretched my ears from 0 to 1 inch with silicone.. I think the reason it worked well was that I had previously stretched with the traditional method of using tapers and let them shrink up. It would be WAY too easy for someone to overstretch with silicone, you HAVE to be patient.

  49. i stretch and wear ‘organic’ wood-bamboo-horn mostly. anything ‘synthetic’ acylic-strainless, i get major irritation quick. i could never use kaos, i already know that :/

    and yes, i know people say that stretching with stuff like wood b/c of the grain is bad…but…never been an issue for meeeeee.

    that’s my 2cents on materials!

  50. as a lot of people already said, id love to have one to wear as it looks wicked, however ill stick to old fasioned stretching thanks :)

  51. I like my PTFE tape, m’self. I’ll also second Shannon’s comment about slightly rough wood, it seems to result in faster settling after stretches for me, though I perform the initial stretch with something smoother.

    I’ve pictured these things in my head before now, though, and really like the concept. I think they look good as just jewellery, and having jewellery that expands to fill the lobe opens possibilities for things that otherwise you’de never have gotten in (or at least, couldn’t get back out).

    If you wanted something more uniform – how about something based on a coiled leaf spring? Literally like clockwork – the spring could expand maintaining a circular form.
    You’d have to have the expansion work AGAINST the spring, however, since as 52 said, if the design “popped” you’d be in a world of trouble.

    (since the design here doesn’t use springs, though, it wouldn’t “pop”…)

  52. ok! where I can buy it? I like it very much and will pay a lot of $ to get it :) PLEASE help me out.

  53. I hate how elitist people can be.
    If someone wants their ears to be a certain size, let them do it how they please. It’s exceptionally narrow-minded to judge someone as “lazy” or “not-committed” for wanting to do it in a non-conventional way.
    This a community, not a jury.

  54. Thank you, Max Brand, and others who understood my concept.

    Based in North Miami Beach, I work at Kolo Tattoo and Piercing, the shop at which we custom-make The Original Ear Expander. I am Fernando “Kolo” Narvaez.

    Designed and handmade by me, the Ear Expander offers lobe-stretchers yet another option in plugwear. It is not meant to replace traditional stretching; it just provides modifiers with another look, another style, another way to express the freedoms they feel.

    With its biomechanical look in silicone guards (yes, they are Kaos), the Ear Expander expands to fit the natural stretch of the hole one already has for ultimate comfort and unique style.

    Worn closed or open in a wide range of potential shapes and sizes, the EEs exist now in 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-points, beginning at 3/4 inch and upward, with expandability from the smallest of increments up to 1/2 inch.

    I regret not seeing the BMEzine blog on my design for the Ear Expander sooner, as I would have liked to have been able to provide more information to those who assumed they knew what it was for. For more info, please check out http://www.inkednation.com/earexpander, and keep an eye out for our web site to launch in January 2008 http://www.earexpander.com. Or you can call or email us directly. Thank you all very much for all your comments and support, and especially to BMEzine for providing us with these kinds of forums.

    Kolo Tattoo and Piercing
    348 NE 167th Street
    North Miami Beach, FL 33162

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