Nipples and their neverending annoyances
I became interested in getting my nipples pierced shortly after my eighteenth birthday. I first decided on nipple piercings for aesthetics and the possibility of increased sensation. I did some research and discovered that healing can take forever, but as I am a prodigious healer I dismissed the possibility. (See, that's foreshadowing!)
Basically, a friend and I were hanging out one evening with nothing to do when I mentioned that I had been thinking about getting my nipples pierced. Her initial reaction amounted to "do it!" Emboldened by her enthusiasm, I suggested that we go to Evolved (an awesome, reputable studio in Columbus) that evening. It was a Thursday, which meant that Evolved was doing two-for-one piercings -- meaning that I'd only have to pay for one nipple.
I walked in and immediately felt a little bit embarrassed, but didn't back down. I walked up to the counterperson and muttered something about wanting my nipples pierced. She obliged and alerted Shawn, who was there piercing that evening. I was asked if I'd rather see Lindsay, the sole female piercer at the shop, but I didn't have much preference and didn't want to interrupt her if she was in the middle of something else.
I asked if I could have them pierced at 12g, as I have heard a few experiences from people who have healed nipple piercings better at larger gauges than with smaller ones the first time around. Besides that I also have an aesthetic preference for larger-gauge jewelry in virtually all piercings. I probably would have asked for 10g initial jewelry, were I not afraid I'd be intimidated by the size of the needle. Shawn put both 14g and 12g titanium barbells in the autoclave in case my anatomy couldn't support the larger gauge. (This, to me, is the mark of a good piercer -- one that won't put getting paid over the potential risks a customer's anatomy could present with a particular piercing.)
I entered the procedure room and removed my shirt and bra, which was clean and not skin-tight -- two things that I feel are necessary after the piercing. Shawn was highly professional and made me feel at ease -- I've never been partial to being nude around people who I don't know, but I was incredibly comfortable. After taking a look at my nipples, he decided that they could, indeed, support 12g, and marked them up. My friend held onto my hand. I was beginning to get a little nervous.
The procedure went well enough. I didn't look. Usually I can, but the idea of watching a needle pass through that much tissue sort of squicked me out. I sat through the first one all right, doing some deep breathing and forcing my body to relax, but the second one made me gasp in pain. (Yes, it's true: the second nipple piercing almost definitely WILL hurt worse, so be prepared for it.) Shawn was reassuring and told me I was doing great. The worst part of the process was the piercing itself -- the jewelry transfer and having the ball screwed on to the jewelry were nothing at all. The piercing process was actually much more bearable than I had anticipated it to be.
I paid, tipped and left the shop. I went out with my friend that night but couldn't stop focusing on the aching in my nipples. The aching continued for a few days, if I recall correctly, but diminished with time and was more of an annoyance than anything. Day three post-piercing I woke up with a slightly frightening amount of dried blood which had emanated from the left piercing, but other than that, no problems initially.
(Side note: I went back a couple of weeks later, convinced from paranoia that they were starting to reject. Shawn examined them and patiently told me that they were new piercings and of course they were going to act funny. He wasn't condescending or irritated by my freaking out. I'd definitely recommend him for his professional manner.)
Herein lies the really tough part of the nipple piercing experience: healing. They lymphed like I'd expect them to for a few weeks; I was unconcerned for a while. But then they kept lymphing. And lymphing. And lymphing more. Truly, their lymphing was a fantastic sight. The only modifications I've ever had that rivaled them in their production of lymph were the 2g dermal punches in my outer and inner conch, and even those don't entirely compare.
I was basically cleaning them constantly out of necessity. On a couple of really gross days, I found a nipple glued to my bra by caked-on crust. I kept up with sea salt soaks and Q-tips and hot water but nothing seemed to help. Every single day, I'd wake up to lymph and go to bed with lymph. Only recently they've slowed down in their production...within the last few weeks, and I've had them pierced for nine and a half months. I'd say that up until now, they were pretty much acting like initial piercings.
I will admit to this: a few months after they were pierced, disregarding the lymph and the fact that they were quite obviously NOT healed, I allowed my partner to play with them during sex on several occasions. I feel that this impeded the healing process significantly, and I would HIGHLY advise against it. On top of that, anything more than light touches eventually became painful as my angsty nipples went through the peak of their quite extended initial healing. Sensitivity has definitely been DRAMATICALLY increased, though -- I had little to no sensation in my nipples prior to the piercings, and now there's quite a bit of it, to say the least.
Now that the lymphing has slowed (not stopped, mind you, and I have no idea when it will), I'm much happier. The constant cleaning and the annoyance of really, really gross bras was almost enough to make me want to remove them. Essentially, I've kept them this long because I'm stubborn when it comes to healing a piercing and the sensation is incredible now.
Unfortunately, I've recently gotten the idea into my head that I'd REALLY like to have diagonal nipple piercings. The horizontal piercings I have now will soon be retired, and I'll be going through this whole miserable process again. Fortunately, though, I'm prepared this time, and plan to religiously clean and soak them.
What I feel you should essentially know about a nipple piercing before getting it is this: 1) the pain is uncomfortable but bearable, and 2) they will most likely seem like they're never going to heal. If you can outlast your nipple piercing's drama, I feel the results are rewarding aesthetically and potentially sensation-wise. Keep in mind that you may not receive enhanced sensation from a nipple piercing, though, so if that's the only reason you're going into it, I encourage you to think long and hard about the healing process you're likely to endure.
My tips for healing nipple piercings are as follows. This is all derived from personal experience and logic:
1) Sea salt soaks. Lots of them. I don't care if you heal best by LITHA; you WILL need to clean these regularly. It helps to soak them before you get in the shower, as this loosens up crusties and allows them to be rinsed off more easily.
2) Between soaks, take a Q-tip soaked in warm water to the lymph. Let whatever wants to come off come off and leave the rest alone. For the love of all things, don't pick at the crust! I know, it feels soooo rewarding to dig at it with your fingernails, but it's a bad idea as it can result in irritation and potential scarring.
3) Don't let your sexual partner play with them, put their mouth on them, etc. until they're 100% healed. A sucking motion on the nipple can encourage rejection if the fistula is not firmly formed yet. I'll branch out and say that I believe some light rubbing on the nipple is fine if your partner is careful and gentle (keep those dirty fingers away from the piercings themselves, though!).
4) Be dedicated to your piercing's health. Research signs of rejection and look at pictures of rejecting nipple piercings, and if your nipple begins to resemble those, take it out. Don't rub your gross fingers all over the piercings. Keep them clean, but don't irritate them with an insane amount of cleansing. If you wear them, keep your bras washed. Change the length of the barbells if it becomes a problem. Ask a piercer or someone experienced in the field of body modifications about unusual problems (excessive bleeding, weird soreness, etc.).
5) See a competent and clean piercer who can provide pictures of well-placed, straight nipple piercings in their portfolio. Look at pictures to get an idea of how your piercings should look. If you aren't comfortable with the environment, the pictures you're shown, the cleanliness of the shop/piercer, ANYTHING, it's okay to walk out. It's better to be perceived as rude or snobby by a hack than to have something go wrong with such a sensitive procedure. It's your body, do the best you can for it.
6) Most of all, be prepared for the possibility of months of annoying crust. If you don't think you're up to it, don't get your nipples pierced. I know of people with much older nipple piercings than mine who are still having the problems I had and more.
One last recommendation: I believe that straight barbells are best for initial healing. CBBs or CBRs can move, twist and get caught on things, and these are not good ideas whatsoever for a healing piercing.
I hope this experience is helpful to any of you who are considering nipple piercings. I've personally found the rigorous process of taking care of the damn things to be good experience in dealing with fussy piercings. I've discovered a lot about what works for my body with regards to healing. If you have any questions about my experience or about nipple piercings in general, feel free to contact me through IAM or via the anonymous email link provided. I'm no professional, but I think nine months of dealing with them and doing lots of research has provided me with a little experience!
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 11 Oct. 2009
in Nipple Piercing