I received a message from a woman whose nipples I pierced and she had questions about changing the jewelry:
Hello Elayne! I got my nipples pierced by you last year when you were at Obscurities, Dallas. I just want to let you know that this is my favorite piercing yet! They healed so beautifully! So after a year I was wondering if getting my jewelry changed to rings instead of barbells would be possible. If I did do the jewelry change (meaning I got to a piercer to get them changed, I'm kinda chicken in that situation) would my nipples once again become tender as they get used to the new jewelry? I still clean them daily. Your input would mean a lot to me! Thank you again for everything you have done! S.
Great to hear from you! I'm so glad to hear that your nipple piercings healed well and that you're enjoying them!
FYI--I'll probably be returning to pierce in Dallas in 2012 if you are interested in getting something else pierced or know someone who might be.
Anyway, the key to comfort with rings in nipple piercings is selecting a large enough diameter so the part that passes through the channel is relatively straight. If you use a diameter that is too small, that can cause discomfort and other issues. You have options including fixed bead rings (in which the bead is attached), captive bead rings (with gems, tubes, and other ornamental captive options), d-rings, and others.
If the holes are well established and quality jewelry is gently inserted, you can expect a minimum of aftermath. Some people do find there's somewhat of an adjustment period when changing jewelry sizes or styles in nipple piercings, but it should never be like having a fresh piercing! If the piercings do "act up" or feel tender, you can resume saline soaks, and/or applications of emu oil to help them settle back down.
Let me know if you have other questions.
Elayne Angel, Author
The Piercing Bible--The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing
President, Association of Professional Piercers