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As it says in The Piercing Bible:

"The contrast of metal jewelry through the flesh of a nipple is truly exotic and striking. Nipple piercing defines the region, frames the tissue, and makes the nipple stand at attention (though it doesn’t necessarily cause the nipple to remain erect at all times). Prior to the early 1990s, when navel piercings became popular, nipples were the most prevalent location for body piercings.

Modern piercing enthusiasts—particularly in the gay and SM subcultures—explored the erotic potential of their bodies and started what has become the current style of nipple piercing. These days, people from all walks of life are experiencing the delights of this piercing. For some, it is simply an aesthetic preference or fashion statement; for others it reigns as a favorite in the realm of sexual and sensual pleasures." 

General Information

Nipple piercings are my specialty, in addition to genital piercings. I can tell you from vast experience that nipple size, configuration, texture, color, sensitivity, and other aspects vary tremendously from person to person. From the petite, flat variety to the largest protruding ones, nipples are usually pierceable, if they are pliable. An exception is severely inverted nipples; more on that topic below.

Every human body really is unique, which is one of the reasons you must seek an expert to perform piercings of this region. It is extremely common to see nipple piercings that are not optimally (or even close to properly) placed. Not only do they lack an attractive aesthetic, but poor placement and improper jewelry selection can make them far more painful than necessary, difficult or impossible to heal, and could even be disfiguring.

You may like the accent of a ring or bar in a single nipple piercing, or prefer the symmetrical appearance of adorning both sides. If you wish to have a pair of nipple piercings, you may wonder if it is preferable to do one and let it heal before adding the second, or to pierce both nipples during the same session. One advantage to having them done at once is that your piercings are complete after a single studio visit and healing period. One advantage of having them done in turn is that you still have one to play with while the other is healing. 

Healing Time
6-9 months or longer

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Placement

Whether you prefer the angle of your piercing to be horizontal, vertical, or somewhere in between, it will work best if it is placed in the natural creases of your tissue.

A “horizontal” placement may actually be more visually appealing if the outer side is placed just slightly higher than the inner side. This will barely tilt the ring up at a slant that frames the area nicely. A true horizontal placement can look a little droopy at the outer edge, depending on the angle and shape of your breasts.
 After all, women are curvilinear in structure--not geometric.

If you have well-developed nipples, the piercing should be placed in the creases at the base of the nipple where it rises from the areola. 
If your nipple is defined with substantial height, the piercing can safely be placed with as little as 5/16" width of tissue between entry and exit. If you have flat nipples, the piercing should encompass a minimum of 3/8" of tissue when the area is relaxed.

If you want a pair of piercings and you have large, protruding nipples that are uneven in size, is it sometimes best to pierce at the natural base of each nipple rather than making one piercing shallower (or deeper) in an attempt to make them match. 

If your nipples are relatively featureless without an elevated tip, the tissue in the visual center of the nipple should be pierced so that the jewelry will rest evenly within your areola. 

If you have elliptical or odd-shaped areolas, it is sometimes best to cheat one side of the piercing a little further from the tip of your nipple in order to have the ring appear more centered in the pigmented area. 

Multiple Nipple Piercings

A nipple can be pierced only once in a session; however, after healing, depending on its configuration and dimensions, it may be pierceable a second time. Few nipples are substantial enough to accommodate more than two piercings. Typical arrangements include two horizontal piercings (ordinarily moving closer toward the body for subsequent piercing), a cross shape, (commonly with a horizontal piercing in front and the vertical behind it), or an X shape, formed by two diagonal piercings. Exceptional skill is required to accurately place additional holes in an already-pierced nipple.

Inverted Nipples

When performed on appropriate candidates, nipple piercing can be a revolutionary cure for inverted nipples.

The medical community assesses them using three different levels of severity, and they are not all equally pierceable:

• Grade 1: The most minor form in which the inverted nipple is easily coaxed out with minimal manipulation. Once out, the nipple maintains its projection fairly well, but usually reverts to its inverted state after a short period of time. In general, this anatomy is well suited to piercing. Placing jewelry in the right spot is usually an effective cure for the inverted nipple.

• Grade 2: The inverted nipple can be pulled out, but not as easily as in Grade 1. The majority of inverted nipples are in this category. More forceful manipulation is required to bring them forth, and after releasing the traction, the nipples slip back to their inverted state quickly. If they can be brought out and kept that way for the procedure, they may be pierceable. It is critical that the skin at the deepest portion of the inversion can be elevated beyond the level of the piercing, or you may end up with a partial piercing that misses the center of the nipple, or a shallow one that migrates through it over time.

• Grade 3: The nipple is severely inverted and very difficult or impossible to pull out manually. It won’t come out all the way and won’t stay that way on its own. These are not pierceable.

Some inverted nipples will pinch up only at an angle that is not standard for a nipple piercing. It is best to let the tissue be your guide and if you won’t be pleased with jewelry at that angle, you should forego piercing. 

The nipple pictured below is Grade 1: only slightly inverted and the tip everts easily. It is no problem having this type of anatomy pierced.

Inverted Nipple
The same nipple with tip everted
A woman with poorly placed piercing marked with appropriate placement at base of nipple
A bird's eye view of a nipple piercing on well-developed anatomy, showing placement at the base
A poorly placed nipple piercing
Female nipple piercing at an alternate angle
An angled female nipple piercing with text
A multiple female nipple piercing-vertical and horizontal

Jewelry

Nowadays, straight barbells are the most common jewelry style used for initial nipple piercings. Though earlier in my career, rings were the standard option, so I know they can be used to successfully heal nipple piercings. That said, I almost always use barbells for healing.

I pierce with a 14 gauge minimum thickness, but 12 gauge is suggested for those who enjoy rougher play. It is also more proportionate for those with larger anatomy. I rarely use 10 gauge for initial nipple piercings, and only on highly developed builds.

Initial jewelry diameter is highly anatomy-dependent. One problem I frequently see is that piercers insert jewelry that properly fits the erect nipple. However, some nipples actually double in width when the tissue is relaxed! For safety and comfort, nipple jewelry must be sized to fit the relaxed nipple without pinching. For barbells, 1/16"-1/8" should be added to the post length beyond that, to allow for possible swelling.

For ring diameters, a 9/16" would usually be a minimum that would fit a petite female nipple, but 1/2" could conceivably be suitable for very small nipples that are not flat. Though 5/8" and 3/4" ring diameters are more frequently required, and sometimes larger. If your nipple is wide enough, when relaxed, to need a ring larger than 3/4" in diameter, then bars should definitely be used for your initial jewelry. Rings bigger than that are likely to be cumbersome and cause healing issues.

Another consideration for rings is how they rest inside a bra. With a nipple ring hanging down, depending on bra material and tightness, there's a certain amount of pressure caused by the bra pressing on the bottom of the ring. This, in turn produces a sort of "back pressure" against the top of the jewelry, potentially resulting in migration.

For inverted nipples, because of the extra stress placed on the tissue to return to its inverted state, flexible plastic may be needed for healing, and 12 gauge should be considered the minimum rather than 14 gauge, if the tissue is sufficient to accommodate it. If flexible is inserted initially, the full alteration of the tissue might not be seen until a metal barbell is in place and offers more resistance to prevent the nipple from returning to its inverted state.

Nipple piercing migration from too-small ring
A female nipple piercing with a ring sufficiently large for an appropriate fit
Crater in nipple caused by too-short barbell
Female nipple piercing with ball-set gem barbell
Nipple piercing with pearl barbell
Female nipple piercing with extra fancy jewelry and safe fit
A female nipple piercing with barbell showing sufficient room for expansion and swelling
A nipple piercing with claw-set opals on the barbell

Procedure

All undergarments and clothing above the waist need to be removed for nipple piercings. You may be in a position anywhere from seated to reclining flat, depending on the preference of your piercer and the furniture in the piercing room. I use forceps to perform nipple piercings. For your comfort and to make the procedure easier, I do tissue manipulation prior to the application of the clamps, and provide more than usual for tight skin or underdeveloped nipples. If the forceps are especially difficult to apply, then more manipulation is in order.

Some studios offer tandem piercings, in which both nipples are pierced simultaneously by two synchronized piercers. This is an excellent method if you are planning to pierce both sides and you are concerned about being able to tolerate the procedure. One of the piercers may mark the placement for both nipples to assure symmetry. Nipple sensitivity is dramatically different from person to person. If you have tender nipples, it’s all the more important to seek an accomplished technician; it will make a big impact on your comfort.

Though I normally use forceps for nipple piercings, sometimes inverted nipples require different handling. If clamping causes the tissue to retract, I’ll use a freehand procedure instead.

Learn which piercing(s) you are built for?

Healing and Troubleshooting

You will probably find that the support of a smooth-cup bra or sports bra is helpful for your comfort and protection, including while you sleep. A minute or two after settling into a tight garment, the piercing usually feels less tender. Disposable nursing pads or cut-to-fit pieces of panty liner worn inside a bra will absorb any blood or sweat and will also help to conceal your jewelry.

Nipple piercings can take quite some time to heal. Female nipples routinely take at least 6 months to heal, and frequently longer. A healing time of 9 months to a year is common. They are likely to seem healed off and on throughout that duration. As I describe it, the healing course tends to have "up and downs" over the healing course.

Nipple piercings may regress for no apparent reason after many weeks or months of stability. Tenderness may come and go due to the fit of clothing, sleep habits, physical activities, hormones (importantly!), and other factors. Women often find that nipple piercings experience a flare-up (secrete, swell, or become painful) just prior to and during menstruation, even after the healing phase is over.

If your piercing takes an excessively long time to settle, I'd suggest trying different jewelry or care regimens until you figure out what works best. The experimentation can require patience, but it is reasonable to adjust at least one aspect if you seem to be having healing problems.

What My Happy Clients Say

I was lucky enough to have my nipples pierced by Elayne and I couldn't be happier with how they turned out!

The actual piercing was so fast that I barely had a chance to realize it happened! 

If you're debating whether or not it's worth the price and wait to be pierced by Elayne, it is. It's really as simple as that! 

A.

How amazing it was to be pierced by this fantastic woman!

It took no time at all for Elayne to mark and prep me. When the actual piercing time came Elayne had both in so quickly I was mostly just stunned instead of in excruciating pain.

Anyone thinking of being pierced by Elayne should do it! I will certainly be back! 

K.F.
Philadelphia, PA

I couldn't have asked for a better experience! I'm 5 days post double nipple piercing and I love them!!

Elayne you truly are an angel.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! 

T.