11 Apr 2011

I received this message from a woman I pierced many years ago.

First, I want to tell you, I had the pleasure of having you do my very first piercing, a tongue ring, and you have ruined me for all other piercers.  Thanks A Lot!  LOL :D
I have a pair of week old nipple piercings, which i have some concerns about.  I noticed that the bars used were a little short, the day after.  There was almost zero swelling, no joke.  That was on a sunday, and the shop I went to was closed, so i waited until Monday evening (I have 3 kids to put to bed before mommy can escape).  I showed the piercer my concerns, and explained what I had read on your site, about the correlation between too-short jewelry and complications with healing.  She didn't even feel the tissue, to make sure there wasn't a problem.  She got rude and asked where i had read that.  Well, I told her your site.  I think her ego got hurt, but she told me it was too soon to try to change it and she wouldn't do it. I was welcome to have another piercer do it.  I don't know if she was correct, so i did, in fact get a second opinion.  After a proper exam, he told me that the tissue was still supple, so not to worry, but keep an eye on it, because it was a short bar for my nipples.
 Now, here is where i am getting concerned.  I have very large breasts, and unfortunately I am afraid I may have discovered something the piercers who examined didn't realize.  The weight of my breasts sitting in my bra is flattening my nipple, widening it.  This morning, especially on my right breast, the balls of my barbell are disappearing into the flesh of my nipple, about half concealed, and are quite painful.  But the piercers that i know of are closed on sunday.  I have started saltwater soaks, but do i need to find someplace tonight, or can it wait until tomorrow.
 I hope that this hasn't taken up too much of your time, but I didn't know if you were aware of the challenges of very larger breasts, and I could really using some expert advise.  I love my boobies :D and want to keep them happy and healthy.

My reply:

Sorry about ruining you... I didn't mean to do it. ; )

If you don't think they're so short that the skin is likely to grow over the barbell ends tonight, then you can wait until tomorrow. If you feel there is genuine risk of overnight embedding, you should seek out a qualified piercer ASAP. Where are you located? You can see if there's someone local I recommend on my referrals page: http://piercingbible.com/piercer-referrals

Ordinarily, initial jewelry should be left in if it is of the proper fit and quality; however, if you're experiencing serious problems (and it sounds as though you are), that is a reason to change the jewelry sooner.

The piercer should use an insertion taper, to ease your jewelry out, and to ease the new jewelry in with no trauma. Here's a brief section about that from my book, The Piercing Bible--The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing. It will help you learn a bit about tapers. 

Insertion Tapers

Also called insertion pins, insertion needles, or simply tapers, these tools are used to facilitate jewelry insertion and to stretch piercings to a thicker gauge. They look similar to needles, but there are differences. Tapers are not sharp, though they may be a little pointy in the thinner sizes. Also, they are solid, not hollow like piercing needles. The back end is formed into a concave, convex, threaded, or other shape to fit with specific styles of jewelry. Using the right type is key to ensure the successful transfer of jewelry into a piercing. They come in every standard jewelry gauge and are sized by the mea- surement at the thicker end. The thinner tip is usually two gauge sizes smaller than the larger end to assure a smooth gradation over its two inches or so of length. Tapers are commonly made of implant-grade stainless steel, though acrylic and other materials are also used.

Pin-Coupling and Concave-End insertion Tapers
Insertion tapers are occasionally used during the piercing process for putting in certain styles of jewelry. When the piercing is made in one direction but the jewelry must be inserted from the opposite side (for a gem to face the right way, for example), a taper can be used. A lubricated taper will push out the piercing needle, then help to transfer the jewelry into the piercing so that the ornament is situated correctly.

Insertion Tapers for Jewelry Changes
If you are a novice and you wish to swap out your own jewelry, an insertion taper is invaluable to keep the channel open and avoid excess trauma. Its tapered shape helps to slide the existing ornament out and ease the new one into place.

A taper that does not correspond to the gauge and style of the jewelry you are putting in can be worse than not having one at all. Internally threaded jewelry uses a pin-coupling taper (the back end is formed into pin that fits into the hole tapped in the jewelry) or a threaded-pin taper (the back end screws into the jewelry). Fixed-bead rings, captive bead rings, and most externally threaded jewelry use a concave taper (the concave back end of the taper connects with the convex end of the jewelry). See “Insertion Tapers,” page 63. To avoid an unpleasant surprise, check the fit of your taper with your new jewelry before removing what you’re wearing.

If you feel confident that you can follow the old jewelry with the new (and you are not stretching up), then the taper is not required. But, if your old jewelry comes out before the new piece passes through, finding the hole can be harder than you think. Trying to shove jewelry through a channel that has shrunk is not only painful, but it is also traumatic to the tissue, especially for a recently healed piercing.

Hopefully your jewelry is internally threaded? Make sure your new jewelry is, even if your old jewelry wasn't.

She wrote back:

I have just ordered your book.  I am contemplating becoming a licensed piercer, so i decided to read your book, cover to cover, as a first step.  I was disappointed with the girl I went to to get this done.  i know it is because she was uninterested in me.  She saw a chick, mother of three and, in her eye, old, just trying to be cool.  She judged me and decided I wasn't worth her time.  I feel like I could do a much more effective job at listening and laying aside their fears.  I am not sure, but I would like to read some more.  I am a very meticulous and careful person.  I am also a warm person.  I know you don't remember me, but I met you in ninja, with a friend who already knew you, and you struck me a kind person. 

I am salting my piercings again, and will go to a different piercer (not the girl who did them in the first place) to have the jewelry replaced.  Thank you so much for your time.  I love that your focus has always been the best possible piercings, followed by the best possible care, not how many people can you pierce a day.  You truely impress me as a true artist.  Thank you for all your work in this field.


I responded:

Hi S.,

I hope you enjoy my book! I think you will find that it provides you with a lot of information that will help you determine whether a future in the piercing industry is right for you. Let me know if you have any piercing-related questions that aren't answered in it.

If you are still in the Los Angeles area, I highly recommend Roger Rabb!t at Prix Body Piercing in West Hollywood. His information is on my referrals page:

Sorry to hear your piercer wasn't all she should have been....

Thanks so much for all of the positive feedback; I really appreciate it!


Aftercare Spray

Buy Now

Get The Book

Buy Now

Snap Plugs

Buy Now

Piercing Videos

Buy Now