Nipples; we've all got 'em, and boobs in particular have long been considered a very sexy body part, so enhancing them with a bar or nipple ring can, for some, be extra titillating. (I know…)
Tribal cultures in Algeria are said to have performed female nipple piercing for centuries, and it was also said to be a fashion trend for Victorian women. Historically, male nipple piercing has always been less common.
Today though, the nipple ring is popular with men, women, celebs and laypeople alike.
How do they pierce the nipple?
As long as your nipples aren't inverted (a bit more on that shortly), the procedure is fairly straightforward.
- First the nipple is clamped as close to the base of the pec or breast as possible.
- A hypodermic needle is inserted through the pinched nipple with the bar attached at one end
- The needle is then pulled through the nipple and the bar ends up in its place.
What about inverted nipples?
If you don't have long nipples the procedure is slightly different and should be performed by someone with specialised training. Dr Lisa Lynn Sowder specialises in piercing inverted nipples and she explains how it's done.
Sowder says, "Inverted nipples are caused by short milk ducts that tether the nipple to the underlying breast. Procedures to release this tethering usually involve cutting the ducts … [which] likely interferes with subsequent lactation and could interfere with sensation."
How much does it hurt?
Everyone's pain threshold and nipple sensitivity is different, but for James Somers it was pretty painless.
Somers was travelling around Canada when he decided to get his nipple pierced. The woman who did his piercing told him to take a deep breath in and out and voila it was done. "it went by so quick I couldn't believe it."
Although it was a pain-free experience, Somers did find the fact that he was sitting up a surprise. "I thought I would've been laying down."
The down side of the piercing was that it changed his nipple shape slightly, "It does deform your nipple a little bit which is why I only got one. I still wanted one nipple to stay the same."
What is the most painful piercing?
Nipple piercing can be painful for some but it's definitely not in the top 5. Anything that goes through cartilage - the Daith (that chunky bit in your ear that you can pinch) and the septum (middle part between the nostrils) will hurt more than areas with soft tissue (think: earlobe).
Top of the list for sensitivity would have to be anything in the genital region: clitoral piercing for women or a Prince Albert for men.
Does nipple piercing impact breastfeeding?
According to the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA), it's the jewellery rather than the piercing that can cause issues feeding your newborn.
Their website says, "Choking is a potential hazard for the baby whose mother keeps her nipple jewellery on for breastfeeding. This is because, as the baby sucks, the jewellery could become loose and lodge in the baby’s throat. The baby's gums, tongue and/or palate may potentially be injured by the jewellery."
Lactation experts have noted issues with babies struggling to latch on as well as coming on and off the breast when the mother had a nipple pierced. The problems apparently went away once the jewellery was removed.
However, the ABA also reports that plenty of women breastfeed with a pierced nipple without any issues.
Before you remove the initial bar and replace it with a nipple ring (if you choose), you'll be best allowing the nipple to heal. Initial crusting is usual for any piercing and the healing time for nipples can take from 3 months to a year.
Bleeding and infected nipples should will be hypersensitive. According to the Body Piercing Association Australia (BPAA), nipples are challenging sites for healing.
- Apply a cover if desired for the first few days.
- Do not touch or let others touch your piercing.
- Tongue play or oral contact around your new piercing should be avoided for 4 weeks.
- Be aware of knocks when playing sports and wearing tight clothing, belts or sunglasses.
- Keep a check on hair which touches or may become drawn into the site.
And be very careful when washing in the shower, especially if you use a loofah. You don't need me to tell you why.
Famous people with nipple piercings
Wanna know which celebs have a pierced nipple? There are quite a few.
At one time, Christina Aguilera was said to have 12 piercings but apparently has taken them all out bar the one in her right nipple. Pink took a camera crew with her when she got hers done, and Kylie Jenner posted her nipple piercing to her 94 million Instagram followers.
Other stars with nipple piercings include Rhianna, Kirsten Stewart, Janet Jackson, Paris Jackson, Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner. And of course there's the male celebs with pierced nips – Tommy Lee, Dave Navarro and Lenny Kravtiz,
How much does it cost?
Prices will vary depending on location and salon but you can expect to pay around $65 for one nipple and up to $150 for both. Which nipple you choose is entirely up to you and there's no difference in price, pain or aftercare.
Where to get it done
It's always a good idea to do your research before getting a tattoo or piercing so check out reviews on Facebook and ask friends or colleagues for a referral. Alternatively, the Body Piercing Association of Australia have a list of accredited technicians.