Banarenth:I never took them out for three years except to switch to bigger studs, I stretched them up to 10 AWG IIRC, mostly in the hopes that they wouldn't close up if they were big enough. Then I took them out for a few hours a day when I moved to a job that didn't allow them in all the time. Finally, I had to have them out for a full 8 hour day and the first time I did that, they closed up on me. All of them. The cartilage piercing actually closed up the first time I took the earring out for more than an hour. But, you also need to understand that I heal really, really fast. Like just short of Wolverine fast. It sometimes gets a bit creepy since I've cut myself more than once and couldn't figure out where the cut was because it healed before I even saw the blood. My doctor sent me to a hematologist because of it but I haven't gotten the results back yet.
Interesting! I think you may find actually that most gun piercing studs are about 20 or 18 gauge. If the piercer uses a needle and goes to, say, 16 gauge straightaway, the first rings can become more thoroughly embedded in more permanent holes, I guess.
I myself am pretty comfortable with the idea of men with earrings in all the time: and the thicker gauge studs or rings are rather rugged-looking often, anyway. (Just as rugged-looking earrings can look good on men, so also - by way of an equivalent comparison, I suppose, there are many tattoo designs that look entirely approrpriate on women. It's best not to get into syndromes similar to trying to ban women who wear bluejeans, etc. - men with earrings, or whatever - from church membership, as sometimes happened many decades ago.)