The Nipple Piercing Types That You Must Know

Piercing the nipples has been used since the middle of the 1890s to increase sexual arousal and provide constant stimulation, thereby making the nipples appear larger and more attractive. The practice of piercing nipples has been in and out of fashion since the Victorian era, but it never goes away. Nowadays, nipple piercings are considered one of the most erotic and sexy forms of body modification. The piercing process is not as complicated as it seems. It is possible to wear a variety of jewelry styles to change the type and appearance of the piercing once it has healed entirely, thus increasing its attractiveness and versatility.

Are you considering getting your nipples pierced? The following tips and information will help you prepare for your piercing and then care for it afterward. The following article provides you with all the information about nipple piercings.

History of Nipple Piercing

Perforating the nipples to apply jewelry is an ancient practice. Various people have used it throughout history. Earlier reports said the Karankawa Native Americans performed male nipple piercing, while the Kabyle people of Algeria practiced female nipple piercing.

Western society may have developed it as early as the 14th century. According to anthropologist Hans Peter Duerr, the first known instance of female nipple piercings as a fashion statement occurred at the court of Isabeau of Bavaria (1370 to 1435), the queen consort of France. He quotes Eduard Fuchs as saying:

…fashion eventually led to the application of rouge to freely display nipples […] placing diamond-studded rings or small caps on them, even piercing them and passing gold chains through them decorated with diamonds, possibly to demonstrate the youthful resilience of the bosom.

Verifying these sources, however, may be difficult.

In the Victorian period around 1890, nipple piercing became a popular trend among society women. Toward the end of the 19th century, magazines such as Vogue carried reports of nipple piercings:

For a long time I could not understand why I should consent to such a painful operation without sufficient reason. I soon, however came to the conclusion that many ladies are ready to bear the passing pain for the sake of love. I found that the breasts of those who wore rings were incomparably rounder and fuller developed than those who did not. My doubts were now at an end…so I had my nipples pierced, and when the wounds were healed, I had rings inserted…with regard to the experience of wearing these rings, I can only say that they are not in the least uncomfortable or painful. On the contrary, the slight rubbing and slipping of the rings causes in me an extremely titillating feeling, and all my colleagues I have spoken to on this subject have confirmed my opinion.

— – London socialite writing in Vogue, 1890

History professor Lesley Hall, however, has pointed out that these claims might be traced back to a few letters published in the magazine Society during 1899, which can be regarded as erotic fantasies rather than accounts of actual acts.

As the gay BDSM and leather subcultures grew in popularity in the late 1970s, Jim Ward revived the practice once again. Among other forms of body modification, nipple piercings were among the modern primitive movement’s most popular practices during the 1980s and early 1990s. Historically rooted on the west coast of the United States, the modern primitives were fascinated by indigenous, so-called “primitive” cultures and adopted various types of body modification as a result. In the 1990s, celebrities like Tommy Lee, Corey Taylor, and Lenny Kravitz publically displayed or confessed to having piercings and made the practice more mainstream.

In recent years, people have been becoming interested in this type of piercing much more than they used to, with celebrities and models alike having these piercings. Although there is research to suggest that people are motivated to get nipple piercings for a variety of reasons, including to express themselves and to feel unique. Further, at least one study indicates people take, on average, 1–2 years to decide whether to pierce.

Types of Nipple Piercings Jewelry

Straight Barbells

straught barbell

In spite of the fact that straight barbells are the most common type of nipple jewelry, they can range from simple to elaborate, allowing you to customize this classic piece to meet your personal taste. Basically, it consists of a bar with balls at each end. Externally threaded and internally threaded are the two types of barbells. In FreshTrends, all our threaded jewelry is internally threaded, which attests to the quality of our jewelry. Threaded internally jewelry is usually an indication of a higher quality product.

Here at FreshTrends, we have an extensive collection of 14k gold straight barbells with gemstones, including opals, pearls, diamonds, and other brightly colored stones.

Circular / Horseshoe Barbell

Circular Horseshoe Barbell 1

Also a very popular item for nipple piercings, these pieces convey a more masculine look, though they are also available with gemstones and diamonds for women who want something more feminine and dazzling. Many people have a preference for circular barbells because they are comfortable, basic, and easy to use.

CBRs (Captives or Captive Bead Rings)

CBRs Captive or Captive Bead Ring

Captives are popular pieces of jewelry among most people with nipple piercings. They are similar to circular barbells. The CBR consists of a small hoop and a ball that you can pop in and out for comfort in those moments when you need it.

Segment Rings & Seamless Rings

Seamless Rings: Seamless hooping is as the name implies; they are seamless. Unlike continuous circle rings, seamless rings are continuously circling. When inserting, separate the two ends (never apart as you will end up permanently bending it out of shape) and slide the tube through your nipple piercing.

Seamless Rings

Segment Rings: Although these hoops look seamless, the segment is a separate piece you insert and remove from the hoop, much like a ball on a captive bead ring.

Segment Rings

Nipple Clickers

Nipple Clickers 1

The hinged clicker is easily becoming one of the most popular types of nipple jewelry. Easy to open and close, the hinged mechanism allows you to insert an attachment easily, and you never have to worry about losing it.

Curved Barbells

Curved Barbells 1

Curved barbells are used by some people rather than straight ones. The barbells in this category also have a slight curvature, though not as pronounced as the straight barbells.

Twister Spiral Barbell

Twister Spiral Barbell 1

Twister barbells are twisted spirals with screw-on balls attached to them. Thread the spiral through your piercing and secure it with the screw-on ball. The shorter pieces may be inserted into a nipple piercing as the shorter ones have a wider range of diameter and gauge. They are as comfortable and look as amazing as the longer ones.


dangle 1

Nipple rings with dangle elements look exactly as they sound: they have a dangle element. There are simpler designs and more elaborate styles available. If you wear dangle nipple rings, take care as they may catch on clothing. Preserve their quality and your piercing by only wearing them on special occasions.


Non Dangle 1

A range of non-dangle-style nipple rings is available, including CBRs, circular barbells, and straight barbells embellished with simple elements. Wear these to go about your daily business, but remember, the more elaborate the piece, the more care it must be taken to prevent damage.

Nipple Shields

Nipple Shields

Nipple shields are an essential accessory for everyone with nipple piercings. Keeping these for special occasions is the best idea, as they are quite complex and large to wear. When worn for an extended period, they may cause discomfort.

What Jewelry Material Is Used for Nipple Piercing?

  • Titanium: Because it doesn’t contain nickel, titanium is a popular option for those with metal sensitivities. However, titanium is also somewhat pricey. “Most people are allergic to or have some allergy or sensitivity to nickel,” advises Thompson. “Hypoallergenic metals” like titanium, gold, and platinum are the metals of choice for him.
  • Stainless steel: Doesn’t tend to be nickel-sensitive? There are only trace amounts of lead in stainless steel, making it a good choice. However, Thompson does not consider it to be an ideal material. “In my studio, I don’t carry any steel,” he says. “Some people are just hyper-sensitive to it. They can’t even touch it.”
  • Gold: Thompson-approved gold is another metal unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. Not in the position to afford it? Anodized titanium is an alternative, according to Thompson, which “mimics gold in a way.”

Cost & Preparation.

The price of getting your nipples pierced will vary from shop to shop and will be determined by what jewelry you choose and the average rate in your locality. The price for this kind of piercing can be about $40 for a single nipple and $70 for both, says Sheena Rose at Salt & Light Tattoo in Chandler, Arizona. Johnny Pearce’s shop, Nine Moons Piercing in SoHo, New York, offers nipple piercings with “implant grade titanium,” starting at around $180.

“We also offer custom gold jewelry options that can easily cost several thousand or more. When it comes to fine jewelry and genuine diamonds, the sky’s the limit,” he illustrates.

Finding the Right Studio to Get Your Piercings

The owner of Nine Moons Piercing, Starr Ellis, suggests researching to answer the following questions about your potential piercer in addition to making sure the cost fits within your budget:

  1. Are they a disposable studio? By doing so, the studio or shop eliminates the possibility of reusing their piercing tools, needles, or jewelry, which is the cleanest and safe solution. When it comes to the studio you choose, Ellis says the most important thing you should inquire about is how they sterilize their tools and whether they perform spore testing, which is “the most accepted means of monitoring sterilization because they assess the sterilization process directly by killing known highly resistant microorganisms,” in accordance to the CDC.
  2. Do they have a good portfolio?This will be the studio’s best selection of piercings, so if it seems off or just not great, check out a different place,” she articulates.
  3. Do they have good reviews? In addition to looking at whether the studio has a majority of positive reviews, Ellis recommends looking at how it responds to negative reviews. “You can’t make everyone happy, but I find it so insightful to see how owners and managers respond,” she states.
  4. Do you feel comfortable with the staff and space? Throughout your appointment, you should feel like you’re in good hands and safe. “At any time during an appointment, if you aren’t feeling 100% ready or comfortable, it is totally acceptable to reschedule or opt-out,” Ellis says. “Sometimes I recommend consultations just to meet the staff and view the space before booking the actual piercing appointment.”

A professional piercer’s studio should also belong to the Association of Professional Piercers, advises Ellis.

What to Know Before You Get Pierce 

If you are thinking about getting your nipple pierced, consider the procedure from a health perspective. You need your skin to protect yourself from bacteria: It’s a barrier that keeps them from getting into the body. Health magazine talks with Constance M. Chen, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon, and breast reconstruction specialist, about the dangers of having your nipple pierced.

The potential for scarring is also present. In all surgical procedures, scarring is possible, says Zain Husain, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of the New Jersey Dermatology and Aesthetics Center. In addition, scarring is more common in certain people than in others. Dr. Husain says you are at a higher risk of developing keloids at the piercing site if you have keloids from acne, cuts, or other wounds.

Should you pierce one or both nipples? When you feel comfortable moving forward, the next question is: Should you pierce one or both nipples? The majority of people get both pierced at the same time, however, it is completely up to you. “You should get what you are comfortable with, not what people tell you to get,” speaks Cantwell.

Seek a professional piercer

Getting a nipple pierced is not a do-it-yourself type of procedure; it should only be performed by a professional. Go online and read reviews about the place from people who have previously used it. By doing so, you can eliminate sketchy locations and narrow down your options.

When you have found the right piercing pro and parlor, visit them and observe how they work. Shops should only use single-use needles, sterilized needles, and avoid using repeat needles or piercing guns warn Cantwell.

It is best to ask the shop’s piercers whether they are members of the Association of Professional Piercers (APP) or have taken training from the organization, recommends Cantwell. It is also recommended to verify that the piercers have ongoing training in blood-borne pathogens. Piercers, if required to have a license by your state, should have one that is current and available for inspection. “I would ask the piercer what their protocol is for piercing, equipment, and aftercare,” urges Dr. Husain.

After that, take a look around. Does it appear clean and well-maintained? Don’t even think about going to a piercing shop with a dirty bathroom, just like you wouldn’t eat at a restaurant with a filthy restroom. Cantwell suggests that if something does not look clean, it probably isn’t.

It’s important that you’re comfortable with your piercer rather than skeeved out by it. Intense parts of your body will be touched while having piercings. “If anything happens during the process that makes you question the shop’s cleanliness, procedures, or your own personal comfort, use that as a sign that you can leave,” conveys Cantwell.

Pick your jewelry carefully

Although aesthetics matter, your nipple rings should also be made from a durable material. Contact dermatitis (also known as allergic skin reaction) is caused by metals such as nickel, says Dr. Husain. If you wear jewelry, he says, you should opt for surgical stainless steel or titanium, which are hypoallergenic and less likely to cause reactions.

Piercing is fast—but it might hurt

After choosing your jewelry, you’ll go into a private room to meet with your piercer, says Cantwell. A family member or friend should hold your hand throughout the appointment. “Unless the piercer is working out of a very small workspace, you should never be told that you cannot have someone in the room with you,” declares Cantwell.

Cantwell estimates that the procedure takes about fifteen to twenty minutes. Piercers begin by cleaning and prepping your skin, then marking the location of each piercing with a sterile, single-use pen. When the placement is determined, you may proceed. According to Cantwell, you will need to breathe deeply after the piercer proceeds. In most cases, the piercing takes just a fraction of a second as you exhale.

Is it going to hurt? Almost certainly, although it’s hard to say how much since the amount depends on the amount of pain you are willing to tolerate. “The best way to think about it is the piercing itself is done very quickly,” explains Cantwell.

Nipple Piercing Aftercare

Skin Rules author and New York City dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, notes that piercings take at least six months to completely heal. Most importantly, you must take care of yourself in the days and weeks following the piercing.

It is advisable to spray sterile wound washing solution twice a day, Cantwell advises. Dr. Husain recommends washing your hands with antibacterial soap before placing jewelry on a newly-pierced ear. Don’t rotate or remove the jewelry, and don’t touch the piercing at all, since that can introduce bacteria and dirt, explains Cantwell. In order to keep the site of the piercing clean, the APP recommends against using hydrogen peroxide or antibacterial ointments like Neosporin, since these should not be used.

The piercing shop will provide instructions. Follow them carefully. Moreover, you should avoid any activity (such as using a hot tub) that is likely to introduce bacteria to your piercing until you have fully recovered, suggests Dr. Jaliman.

Choosing the Type of Jewelry You Want

The kind of jewelry you choose can not only affect the price of the procedure but also how well your new holes heal. “Jewelry quality is a big determining factor in how easily and quickly your new piercing heals,” Pearce speaks. “Don’t fall victim to misleading terms like ‘surgical steel’ or ‘stainless.’ These are nonsensical terms given to low-quality, unregulated mystery metals.”

According to Pearce, implants grade titanium (ASTM-F136), 14k to 18k solid gold (never plated or filled), and Implant Grade Steel (ASTM-F128) are the three most common materials used in nursing nipple piercing jewelry.

However, metal is not the only factor that determines the quality of your jewelry. Victoria Rose, a tattoo artist at Studio 28 Tattoos in New York, stated that the jewelry type — whether it’s a half-circle ring or a barbell — may also have an impact.

“We just use straight barbells for initial nipple piercings regardless of the size of the nipple,” she says. “Rings can put pressure on the healing wound and dig into the breast tissue at the bottom of the client wears bras or binders. The barbell that we use to pierce is slightly longer to accommodate for initial swelling.”

The Procedure

Is it going to hurt? That is probably the most important question on your mind. Your own threshold of pain will determine the level of pain you experience from a nipple piercing. It is inevitable that there will be some degree of pain or discomfort, but it should pass quickly.

“For nipple piercings, the initial pain tends to subside very quickly after the piercing is completed,” Vicki Rose tells. “Nipples are sensitive areas, to begin with, so please do not listen to your friends who say they don’t hurt. But if the pain was unbearable, no one would get them done, and we perform them frequently.”

Some piercers may apply a numbing agent of sorts, but Samantha McKenzie, a 29-year-old with nipple piercings, says it doesn’t quite work the way the piercer expects. “The only numbing takes place outside the openings so all that pain of it going through is still there. It does not get any less painful after three piercings,” she declares. “Getting the first piercing always feels like a literal stab in the heart. By the second nipple, I’m usually still trying to breathe from the first, so that typically hurts a little less. Just a little.” She says further that it takes approximately 5 to 15 seconds to perform the piercing.

To ensure you are satisfied with the positioning, the piercer will usually mark your nipples with a marker before the piercing. Napkins sometimes are clamped in place by piercers, but it isn’t always the case. Last but not least, you may be instructed to take a deep breath just before the needle is inserted.

Nipple Piercing Care

To avoid infections and other problems, it’s important to take good care of your new piercing after it’s been done. Sheena Rose breaks the overall care process down into two steps: the first step in healing, followed by ongoing care.

Cleaning the piercing with a sterile saline solution once or twice a day is recommended during the initial healing phase, which begins immediately after getting the piercing. In addition to cleaning, we recommend leaving it alone. In addition, she cautions against interacting with your partner for a month.

The second phase of the healing process will continue throughout the life of the piercing, so maintaining it properly is essential.

“Often people think that they no longer need to wash piercings after they have healed. This is wrong. All piercing holes should be attended to daily during your shower routine,” she advises mbg. “I cannot tell you how many times I’ve come across years of filth that have accumulated on jewelry that’s never taken off. Things smell bad for a reason. Bacteria sloughed skin, and oils get trapped in piercing holes.”

After the piercing has fully healed, a quick cleaning with a little water and regular soap while in the shower should be sufficient. While you can opt to remove your piercing, it is not necessary, but it is important to remember to place it back into the hole as soon as possible so the hole does not close.

How long does it take to heal?

According to Pearce, you can expect the healing process for nipple piercings to take six to nine months. However, prolonged healing times aren’t uncommon, especially when the piercing is experiencing ongoing issues.

In the case of Morgan Oughton, 38, who was pierced 20 years ago, it took just about a full year for the holes to heal. “They were very tedious to maintain when I first got them. Even with extra care and cleanliness, they took about a year to fully heal, a commitment I definitely didn’t know I was undertaking at the time,” she points to mbg.

According to Pearce, aftercare following a nipple piercing is best handled minimally. The safest and easiest way to heal is to give your body the freedom it needs to function normally. In order to assist the healing process, Pearce recommends focusing on overall body health rather than excessive attention to the piercing site. In addition to drinking water to stay hydrated, eating fruits and vegetables, and getting enough sleep are all important.

Potential Complications

It is common for Nipple piercings to become infected during healing, especially in the initial weeks. Skin infections can occur either superficially or can be more serious infections such as breast abscesses.

There may be some crusting or oozing during the healing process, Sheena Rose says, but you should not smell anything coming from your piercing. Swelling may also occur, but this can be handled by having your jewelry adjusted by your piercer to make sure it is not too tight. During this time, you should not pick at or play with your piercing or interact with it in any way besides when it’s being cleaned.

There were still some minor problems with Oughton after the first year. “The left one would still give me annoying small crusty infections or inflammations, and it slowly grew out of my body to the point that the metal of my barbell could be seen through the middle of my nipple and was barely hanging on both sides, so I took it out for good about 12 years ago.”

Because of her active lifestyle, she is dealing with prolonged issues with her left nipple, stating, “There’s probably more muscle stress, sweat, sun, and saltwater involved than in most people’s lives, which is probably what affected my healing process with them being jammed in sweaty sports bras and wet bathing suits so often.”

Sexual Benefits

The piercing of your nipples can provide some sexual benefits. In addition to giving you more pleasure during foreplay, fully healed piercings can also improve both your overall body confidence and your foreplay experience, according to Sheena Rose.

“Many people are self-conscious about their bodies, and they feel sexier and proud of their piercings afterward. This is one of the reasons I love my career as a body piercer. Empowering people, women, and men to have their unique anatomy adorned for them to share with whom they please is something that I am proud of,” she conveys.

One of the reasons 35-year-old Emma Alda decided to have her nipples pierced for her birthday was because of this. Her husband has taken a liking to Alda’s nipples piercings as well! There is something sexy about them.” Since getting her nipples pierced, Alda says her breasts have grown increasingly beautiful.

Risks and Precautions

It is possible to develop bacterial infections in nostril piercings, especially if they are not properly cared for. “We are constantly exposed to harmful bacteria all around us, so it’s not hard to see why infections are prevalent, especially when people ignore aftercare rules and/or interact with their fresh piercing prematurely,” Pearce says. “Sometimes piercings can get infected even when you’ve diligently practiced your aftercare, but rest assured that the closer you follow your aftercare regulations, the smaller your chances are of running into problems like infections.”

Vicki Rose points out that people generally experience major dangers associated with nipple piercings only when they undergo “advanced nipple piercings such as surgically altered nipples, inverted nipples, and third nipples. If the piercer isn’t versed in these piercings or performs them on tissue that isn’t viable, then rejection or migration of the piercings may occur.”

A navel piercing is a potentially dangerous procedure. Unlike conventional ear piercings, which puncture dense tissue, nipple piercings penetrate highly sensitive skin that is also connected to an infection-prone duct system. By piercing the skin, you cut through your body’s first line of defense against infection. As a consequence of a nipple piercing, a foreign object is placed near the breast’s deeper structures. Consequently, your risk of complications increases.

The information on this page should help you prevent complications and infections if you have a nipple piercing or are planning to get one.

What are the symptoms?

Pierced piercings that are infected are very different from ones that are irritated. It is possible for inflamed tissue to feel sensitive. This can be seen as redness. Irritation can be alleviated by simply leaving the area alone. Without treatment, the irritation usually resolves within a few days.

Symptoms such as these suggest an infected area if irritation persists or you experience any of the following:

  • piercing is hot to the touch
  • the area is extremely sensitive or painful when touched
  • green, yellow, or brown discharge
  • swelling of the piercing site
  • bad odor near the piercing site
  • rash
  • body aches
  • fatigue
  • fever

What causes infection?

The most common cause of infection is frequent contact with the piercing site. It increases your risk of getting infected when bacteria are introduced to the delicate tissue.

Depending on the location of the piercing, tightly fitted clothing may easily catch on or irritate the piercing. Other bodily fluids or saliva can also cause infection if your piercing is exposed to them.

Risk factors to consider

A long-term infection risk exists. Piercings do not end immediately. They continue for days, weeks, even months after the piercing was made. You may experience any one or more of the following complications if you have the piercing:

  • bleeding
  • scarring
  • nerve damage
  • tearing
  • keloid formation
  • interference with future medical needs or procedures
  • interference with breast-feeding

It is most common to contract localized infections around the piercing. There are rare instances when the infection can spread beyond just the nipple and breast and become more serious. The infection can spread to the following areas:

  • infection of the heart valves (endocarditis) in people with a history of abnormal heart structure
  • infection in the bloodstream

Diagnosing an infected nipple piercing

It depends on your symptoms whether or not you can self-diagnose. There may be many obvious signs that indicate that your nipple piercing is infected, making it easy to distinguish. It’s easy to determine whether you have an infection if you have pus draining from your piercing.

In case you have any doubts about your symptoms or whether they indicate irritation or infection, you should seek medical advice. Leaving it too long before seeking a diagnosis and treatment can exacerbate the infection. Complications can become more serious if you wait too long.

How to treat an infected nipple piercing

As soon as you notice signs or symptoms of an infected nipple piercing, make sure to seek medical help. Preventing further problems or discomfort may help stop the infection from spreading.

Do not attempt to drain an infection by pinching, poking, or cutting the area yourself. Such actions can cause severe complications. Among the things you can do to stop an infection, you are advised to:

Clean the area

Gently clean and dry the area surrounding your piercing after washing your hands. It is best to use soaps that are designed to soothe sensitive skin, as they are less likely to irritate it. Please refrain from using:

  • hydrogen peroxide
  • ointments
  • alcohol
  • harsh soaps, detergents, or cleansers

Use a warm compress or sea salt soak

When you have a small, localized infection, a warm compress on the nipple may be able to help drain the infection. Additionally, you can soak your nipple in warm water and sea salt. Keep this up for several minutes two to three times per day. Once the piercing area has been cleaned, wash it with warm water, and pat it dry.

Avoid using over-the-counter (OTC) antibiotic creams or ointments

It is possible for these products to trap bacteria in the piercing and under the skin, causing an infection to develop. You should only use antibiotic topical creams prescribed by your physician or dermatologist.

Good Aftercare

In addition to caring for the piercing on a regular basis, there are a few things you can do to prevent scarring. Follow the other instructions your piercer gives you to ensure the best results.

It is important to consult your doctor if your symptoms worsen or persist. It is possible that you will be prescribed an oral antibiotic to clear the infection.

Will nipple piercings affect the ability to breastfeed?

A major concern regarding nipple piercing is that it can affect the ability to breastfeed, but board-certified plastic surgeon Alexis Parcells, M.D., owner of Parcells Plastic Surgery, says this is unlikely to happen.

“While it’s rare for nipple piercings to interfere with breastfeeding, mastitis (inflammation of the breast) and decreased lactation are possible side effects. It’s OK to completely remove the piercing during feedings to prevent these complications. It’s important to note that piercings can close within 24 hours, so reinsert your jewelry quickly to avoid having to re-pierce,” she informs mbg.

How to Change Out Nipple Piercing

As soon as you are healed, you will be able to experiment with new looks for your body jewelry. Remember that a piercing can close very fast, within 24 hours, so reinsert your jewelry as quickly as possible or you’ll need to re-pierce your body, this time through scar tissue, which may be quite challenging. “The longer you let that jewelry stay, the better off you’re going to be, so definitely wear it for at least 10 weeks,” states Thompson.

It is always a good idea to get professional advice from your piercer, especially if it is your first time.

Nipple Piercing and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding may be affected by nipple piercings, which is a common question among women who are considering them. The evidence suggests that proper nipple piercings do not cause lactational complications. In a letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the author discusses how improperly pierced nipples and scars can cause blocked ducts.

In order to avoid infection, a professional piercer should be consulted and good aftercare should be implemented. The nipple can be damaged by frequent piercings and complications can result. If your piercing has already been healed, you should wait at least six weeks before breastfeeding. For this reason, many body-piercing professionals will not pierce a pregnant woman, as piercing may cause stress on the body, which may cause complications during pregnancy.

It is recommended to remove nipple jewelry before nursing due to several complications associated with breastfeeding while a piercing is present. In addition to poor latch, slurping, gagging, and milk leaking from the mouth, there can be other complications associated with nursing while wearing nipple jewelry.

Furthermore, it could pose a choking hazard to the baby. When the baby sucking, the ends on a barbell (if worn) may become loose, falling out, and lodging in the baby’s throat (a captive bead ring would lessen the risk of anything falling, becoming loose, and lodging in the baby’s throat). By wearing jewelry, the baby could suffer damage to his gums, tongue, and soft palate.

Some experts state that piercings and breastfeeding are compatible, regardless of some arguments against piercings and breastfeeding.

There is no evidence that pierced nipples will affect your ability to breastfeed. Your breasts will still produce adequate milk for your baby, and unless your body rejected the piercing right after you had it done, there is no reason to anticipate any additional problems with infection. It is unlikely that the holes that are left in your nipple will cause a problem. Each nipple has between fifteen and twenty tiny nipple pores that the milk comes out of, so even if some were damaged, there should be plenty left for nursing. Breast surgery often damages the milk ducts inside the breast, and this can definitely create problems. The situation with nipple piercing is very different.

— Dr. Kendall-Tackett

Nipple Piercing FAQs

What is the popularity of piercing among men and women?

After Kendall Jenner got hers done here at Body Electric, more women have been getting their ears pierced than men. Throughout the past few years, the trend has been popular, but never as popular as the time Kendall did it. Although you absolutely have to give some credit to Rihanna, too. Her involvement was certainly crucial. There are so many nipples in Los Angeles that I’ve pierced twice each one. 

What percentage of people do one or both nipples?

Women are doing both more now than they were last year when the men did both and the women just did one.

Which one do you prefer: a barbell or a hoop?

“Barbells are way more popular. They’re more subtle under clothes and they heal faster because they don’t move around as much,” Thompson adds. Barbells are also more accommodating of swelling: “I like to allow at least an eighth of an inch on each side of the nipple, between the two balls.” This allows for variation. Additionally, hooping is easier to accidentally pull or hit than barbells. Furthermore, while we’re on the subject: Internally threaded barbells are better than externally threaded ones because they’re smoother, which means they can prevent irritation and pimples when entering and leaving the piercing.

What is the best metal to use? What should the total price of the piercing and ring be?

For those looking for a low-cost alternative to sterling silver, Thompson recommends titanium because it’s hypoallergenic and rarely problematic. If you’re looking to spend a little more money, gold (white, rose, or yellow) or platinum is equally impressive.

The other option is stainless steel, but Thompson notes that not all stainless steel is created equal: Cheap options (often imported from overseas) can be under $20, but they may contain nickel, which is often associated with allergic reactions. When making a surgical implant, you should stick with medical-grade or implant-grade stainless steel.

It’ll cost you about $50 or $60 in most cities to get quality titanium or implant-grade stainless steel barbell for your piercing. Solid gold can cost several hundred dollars, depending on the size of the piercing. But what about platinum? That’s costly and you won’t be able to afford it.

Talk a little about pain. What does it really feel like?

According to Thompson, the piercing is “totally tolerable,” but if you spend enough time on Reddit threads and talk to people who have had it, it’s considered one of the most painful. This moment, however, is incredibly fleeting. Thompson points out, “It’s like one, two, done.” Thompson says. “It’s short-lived pain.”

Does it take how long for the wound to heal?

The average time it takes to heal the piercing varies from a few months to a year (six months is the most common timeframe), but some nipples can’t take it and won’t heal at all. (Are you rejecting the piercing as a warning sign? You have a red streak across your nipple. To remove the jewelry before it completely rejects, that way in the unlikely event you allow it to go too far, “you’re going to have a terrible scar.”) Having said that, the healing process is not an ordeal. “The first few days, they’re going to be very tender, then they start feeling good, fast,” he says. No matter what you do, don’t think that you’re an exception and have healed nipples in just a few weeks: “People start feeling good, so they stop taking care of them, they start touching them, they let their significant other play with them,” Thompson says. Keep diligent for the first year or you can have major issues. Don’t make this mistake if you want to avoid major problems.

Do you have the capability of piercing any nipples? Would you be able to perform piercing on small, flat, or inverted nips?

“I’ve never met a nipple I couldn’t pierce,” Thompson conveys. The types of nipples he is referring to include all those mentioned above. Nipples with inverted tips are almost as popular as those with flat tips – and he pierces plenty of those as well. The piercing of an inverted nipple may result in the nipple being pushed out, while flat nipples may become a little raised. He simply chooses to use a smaller barbell for small nips.

A suction device can be requested for patients who are very worried about flat or inverted nipples, making it easier to pull them out – although it isn’t really needed, Thompson says. “Your piercer can simply work the nipple out with their fingers,” he speaks. Prepare yourself for what’s to come if that made your stomach turn.

Do the nipples of those who have been pierced remain hard forever?

“No, the nipple will not stay erect, but it will be more pronounced.”

Are there any precautions to be taken after you get pierced?

Maintaining its cleanliness and being free of foreign bacteria is paramount during the first few months of treatment. This means you (and your partner) should avoid touching in countries with restricted water sanitation, and avoid touching in pools, spas, hot tubs, rivers, lakes, and even showers. Until your nipple has healed, don’t touch the water if you wouldn’t feel comfortable drinking it.

Can you describe the process of getting pierced?

The truth is, all piercing studios differ somewhat, and it’s always important to go to a reputable studio with clean conditions, good reviews (check Yelp and Google your piercer a lot), and experienced staff – but you know that already. In any case, know that your experience shouldn’t differ drastically from how it works at Body Electric. In this scenario, your jewelry will be picked out and the piercing room closed for privacy after you have signed the forms. Sterilization is completed using a machine before the jewelry is picked out and pierced. Before your nipple is pierced, we use alcohol and a surgical scrub to clean it. Then we mark it with a marker and ask you to lie down on the piercing table, just in case. “Nine times out of ten, the client wants a horizontal piercing,” Thompson says. Afterward, the nipple is clamped. “Some piercers don’t use clamps on the nipple, but I do because it makes the whole process a little faster,” Thompson says. After a deep breath, Thompson inserts the needle into the nipple. Once they have your jewelry in, your piercer will apply pressure to stop any bleeding and cover the piercing with a bandage. (If they pull out a piercing gun, put on your top and run!).

Does bleeding occur normally?

It is quite common to have bleeding after getting a piercing – both during the first week following the piercing and at the time of the piercing. However, not everyone experiences bleeding. After a week, or if bleeding more than you would from a small cut, call your piercer and let them know what happened.

What should you expect in the days following the procedure?

During the first week, you may experience bleeding and incredibly sore nipples. After you start touching your nipple to random things, you’ll quickly discover how often it does so – because it hurts. Your nipple will get crusty, and you will have to keep it clean every day.

Whenever you pierce someone’s nipple, what is the most common follow-up call you receive?

“That they’re swollen more than we foresaw and they need to come in and put a longer post in their barbell,” Thompson says. Thankfully, swapping the posts only takes a couple of minutes, if only until the swelling subsides. Nipples that swell beyond the ball need to be seen immediately or you may risk health problems. 

When it comes to caring for your nipple piercing, what should you do?

One daily application of gentle soap and warm water in the shower and air drying of the piercing is all that’s needed. The piercers recommend different products, but Thompson provides his clients with a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap in Tea Tree or Baby Unscented (for sensitive skin). Generally, you can get this in most health food stores. The next part we cannot emphasize enough: don’t touch it! That means you cannot turn the barbell or touch it in any way. Also, do not allow anyone else to touch it. You should wear a soft cotton bra (such as a bralette or sports bra), and you should not bother to take care of it for a few weeks with the exception of monitoring the healing and washing it in the shower. Nipple piercings may get crusty, so it’s a good idea to soak them in saline solution daily. Grab a sterile saline bottle and a shot glass, or use Thompson’s DIY method: Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a large volume of warm water, then fill a shot glass or small mug with the mixture. Place the nipple in the glass and soak as long as you like. “You can’t [overdo] this — it’s great for speeding up the healing process,” Thompson says. 

What can we do about a crusty face after six months?

 If you experience a reaction, consider upgrading your jewelry. Avoid anything that might contain rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, ointment, or other tools that you might use to treat the wound. Please repeat this: Soap, saline, soft bras, and no touching!

When is it healthier to see a doctor about your nipple infection, or when you just need to see if it’s irritated or healing slowly?

As Thompson points out, there is not as much likelihood of infection as you might think. Most irritation will be caused by an allergic reaction to cheap jewelry, while pain and redness will come from a too-small barbell. His clients are told: with an infection, you’ll have a slight fever, swollen lymph nodes, or red, inflamed, and painful piercings. When something doesn’t feel right, it probably is – and the nipple is no place for risk-taking. Be sure to call your piercer promptly if you believe something is wrong, and never be timid about asking your primary care physician for advice – they’re there to help.

What is the possibility of developing nipple thrush from my new piercing?

The problem with nipple thrush is that it’s not the same as your normal piercing infection – yes, it is an infection, but it’s caused by yeast. The chances of nipple thrush occurring after a piercing are low, according to Sherry Ross, MD, OB/GYN and author of She-ology. If you think you might have nipple thrush, Dr. Ross recommends keeping an eye out for these symptoms: redness, swelling, burning, itching or stinging of the nipples. In addition, she says the skin around the nipple could appear shiny, flaky, and blistered. In the event you experience any of these symptoms, contact your physician immediately.

Are you able to change your jewelry on your own?

“Yes, once it’s healed and you feel confident, it’s totally fine to switch out your jewelry yourself,” Thompson says. Just be careful not to damage the area. “Don’t take too much time to do it,” Thompson explains that your nipple, particularly in the first year, can begin to close up within minutes. This is why she suggests having a professional adjust your jewelry for the first few times.

How long will the hole last if you remove the jewelry later on?

Even if the piercing is old and healed, the hole usually closes up fairly quickly – even if you’ve had it for years. There may be some exceptions, and some holes remain open for years even without jewelry, but it’s not common.

If you need to have a nonrelated medical procedure that demands the removal of the piercing, what can you do?

If you wish to maintain a hole in the body, you can buy a “retainer,” which is basically a glass barbell. A retainer will not interfere with a procedure (such as an MRI or surgery). 

Please tell us: How long is it really necessary for you and your S.O. to wait before touching each other?

Thompson argues that the fewer people who touch something, the better it is to limit the spread of foreign germs. Therefore, try not to get worn out for a while from a bunch of random hookups. “At least go three or four weeks and try to keep it to a minimum,” Thompson states, “but it’s not like you have to go six months.” Washing your hands before touching your nipples is an obvious precaution as well.

Are your nipples more sensitive now that you have the piercing?

There is no doubt about it. The nervous system, according to him, is what causes your nipples to be sensitive to touch, so it doesn’t make them more sensitive, but it makes them stand out more and makes you more aware of them, so many people find this sufficient to make a difference. Some people report that they are more sensitive afterward, so this answer isn’t as black and white as it might seem.

Scarring is something we should discuss. How would we handle best and worst-case scenarios?

There will always be a mark left after a piercing, but you can minimize it by taking the proper care. “If they’re done properly and you don’t have any reaction to the metal, they will be very minimal and most people won’t even notice,” Thompson says. It is important to note that keloids or hypertrophic scarring can also be caused by genetics or complications, and the scar may reject, leaving you with a bad scar that would require surgery to correct. “With every type of piercing, you must remember that there are repercussions and scars can happen,” he speaks.

Is it safe to breastfeed after they have healed?

“This is my most common question — and the answer is yes,” Thompson says. The truth is that a nipple piercing shouldn’t impact your ability to breastfeed, but that doesn’t mean it won’t pose complications at some point. Scarring can also occur. Risks and complications should be considered.

Which is more painful: a piercing of the nipple or a piercing of the genitalia?

“Well, that depends on the genital piercing — there are some male genital piercings that will make you see God,” Thompson says in a humorous tone.

Do you think it is safe to pierce the same spot a second time? 

The last time I removed has been over two years ago because I felt that I was being rejected. They are really important to me, and I have considered getting them done again.

“Absolutely. I’ve re-pierced each one of mine, I think it’s about four times now. It’s not going to hurt more and it’s not going to cause any additional problems. There’s really no downside to re-piercing again.”

Can you recommend a comfortable, supportive bra to wear after having them done?

Among the sports bras, Thompson suggests are soft, cottony, dark-colored ones. Having your piercing covered won’t put you at risk of staining your clothes (hey, it happens) or causing damage to your piercing if you are wearing delicate things, like lace. At the end of the day, it’s all a matter of trial and error, but it’s best to choose something you know is comfortable and won’t catch on your jewelry.

Would it be best to start with one nipple and wait until it heals before doing the other one?

“It’s about personal preference — whatever works for you should be the way you get pierced,” Thompson declares. “If you want to wait and heal one and then do the next, then by all means go ahead and do that. If you want to sit down and knock it out in one shot, then that’s great, too.”

How soon will you be able to start working out?

“Thirty minutes after you get it pierced. Working out has no impact on the piercing itself unless you’re putting tension on it. If you feel pain in the area, that’s your body telling you it doesn’t like what’s going on — so stop doing it. Keeping your piercing clean is also something to consider because it’s like an open wound, so cleanliness at the gym and how thick your clothing is something to consider.”

Should I wear something special for the appointment? Is it necessary to take off my shirt for the appointment?

“It depends on your comfort level and your piercer,” Thompson says. “If you don’t want to remove your shirt, you don’t have to — you could pull it up or pull it down. I’ve had clients do a little bit of everything. It really doesn’t matter, so wear what you feel comfortable in.”

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