Well, I did it what I consider to be the "smart" way because I want to be able to shrink back to a less noticeable size if it turns out that I do not like it.
You can have your ear punched with a dermal punch and go pretty large right off the bat and spare yourself a lot of stretch suffering. But, the punched out hole will be permanent and will never shrink down much below the size it was punched at. Still, if you are sure that you want an earring that is larger than the conventional pin hole, a dermal punch is the way to go. One and done! And it is no more painful than the conventional pin hole even though it would seem so visually! I have had a dermal punch done and it wasn't bad at all.
If you go the stretching route, you can go rather quickly through the small sizes, about 2 to 3 weeks for each. Once you get up to a 6 gauge it begins to get painful so please allow yourself at least full month before you to up again. Two months is better, but if you manipulate the jewelry a lot to stretch your hole you can go as fast as one a month.
I just went up to 0 guage last week and this time it is pretty painful. It is still swollen and sore!
I have been told that if you try to move through the larger sizes too quickly you will likely wind up getting a blow-out on the back of your ear when you get up to the big sizes, (like an inch or more in diameter).
I have no intention of going really large. I am trying to decide if I should stay here with the 0 gauge or if I should go up one more size to the 00 gauge. What do you recommend?
I was in hospital twice already this year and both times they made me take out all of my piercings. The holes shrink really quickly so i had to start over twice. the whole process has taken about one year.