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Nipple Piercings 101

Some folks may be surprised to learn that nipples are among the most common piercing we perform here at Rogue, and we’re not alone! Most people that you see out there, in their suits and ties, with their fancy frocks and briefcases, they’ve got a barbell-shaped secret under their shirts.

So, why would anyone want to pierce their nipples? Lots of reasons! Although they’re quite a private piercing as they’re not on public display as much as nostril or ear piercings for example, they are definantly a piercing that can help people to feel empowered. A piercing that is just for them and whoever they choose to share it with. We are always honoured to be a part of that experience for someone. Of course, nipple piercings can also serve a sexual purpose and as such should never be performed on anyone under the age of 18.

History Time

It is difficult to confirm when nipple piercings became popular in the West. There are many stories online of Bavarian monarchs piercing their nipples in order to accessorise extravagant dresses. Or sailors using them to mark a particularly long voyage. There is some evidence presented in ‘The English Mechanic and Word Science’ magazine in the form of letters written in 1880’s that provide insight into the opinons people had at the time regarding these piercings and also the experiences that (in particular) women had when travelling out to Paris to have these “operations” performed. In response to a lady teling of her desire to get gold rings pierced into her nipples, someone writes “it is incredible that in this enlightened 19th century any Englishwoman should wish to mutilate herself in a way that is utterly without sense or reason”. Needless to say, it appears that his opinon is a lot less common today. Throughout the discussion on “The English Mechanic”, several writers express concerns about the practically of breast feeding, even today we continue to bust the myth that a correctly performed nipple piercing will prevent breast feeding in the future. You can read more about that here.

We also have Jim Ward to thank for documenting his first experience with nipple piercings and how they were popularised throughout the underground fetish and LGBTQIA+ scene of 1960’s America. That’s right, we have kinky gay men to celebrate for bringing piercings to the mainsteam world! In his book “Running the Gauntlet”, Jim describes how he was fascinated by the idea of piercing his nipples after discovering “the erotic pleasures of nipple play”. He had small gold rings made up by a watchmaker and used them as his inital jewellery (we live and learn through the trials and tribulations of piercings pioneers such as Jim, thin gauges are definantly not recommended these days in order to heal a nipple piercing well!)

Nipple piercings were almost exclusive to gay men involved in the leather and BDSM community, underground and often unsafe by modern standards. However, thanks to the rise in acceptance and education of these marginalised groups, nipple piercings are incredibly common. Worn publicly by celebrities such as Rihanna and Kendall Jenner, nipple piercings have become a strong fashion statement for people to wear with tight shirts and no bra. In the year 2022, we have the privelege of performing many nipple piercings each week here at Rogue, from the standard 14g all the way up to 8g for those who are a fan of heavy gauge work (anatomy dependent of course!)

NOTE: Sources used to research the history of nipple piercings come from documents written in English and are therefore bias to English perceptions. If you have any information regarding piercing history from anywhere around the world, in any language, please feel free to reach out to us at hello@rougepiercing.co.uk – we always love to learn!

Anatomy of the Nipple

A common problem we see with nipple piercings, is placement. The piercing should pass through the nipple itself and not the areola surrounding the nipple. If you take a look at the diagram below, you can see that the nipple is it’s own delinieted tissue with a clear boundary between it and the aerola (the often slightly darker skin that sits around the nipple).

Piercings should never pass into the areola tissue

Biologically, male and female nipples devlop the same way. Begining in utero at around the fourth week of development, each fetus begins to grow breast tissue. During puberty and extending to early adulthood, female breast tissue will continue to grow as estrogen levels rise in the body. Lobules inside biologically female breast tissue transport milk through the nipple ducts when stimulated to do so by hormones released after giving birth.

Nipples and Surgery

There are two main types of surgery that effect the nipple: Breast augmentation, and a mastectomy or top surgery. Both can impact your anatomy and wether we can pierce you!

We recommend having a discussion with your surgeon before the procedure about your piercing aims, so that they can give you as much information as possible. The general advice that we give clients is to wait a full year post-surgery before booking in for nipple piercings. Surgery takes a large toll on your body, and we do not want to take energy away from your healing body to heal your piercings. In addition to this, it’s important to keep in mind that the scarring from surgery (especially methods that involve full nipple removal and re-attachment) can change in shape and size over time and again needs to be fully healed and settled in place before we pierce through them. If pierced whilst the body is still healing and regenerating, we cannot guarantee as good a heal, or a straight piercing. Patience is definitely the name of the game with this! It is always better to wait longer than you think, than go into it too soon and have less-than-perfect results.

What to Expect

At Rogue our aim is to always make you feel as comfortable and safe as possible, regardless of where you’re getting pierced. You’re always welcome to bring a chaperone for moral support and we will talk you through each step of the process as we go, answering any questions/concerns/queries you may have along the way.

When you arrive for your nipple piercing (which you can book here), we will initally do an anatomy check and measurement of the nipple to discuss placement and provide you with your initial and healed sizes for jewllery. Then comes the fun part, picking your jewellery! We carry a range of options for you to choose from and we’re always happy to help with recommendations, you can check out some of barbell ends here (remember, these are sold seperately to the barbell itself which can be purchased here). As your new jewllery sterilises, we will chat to you about how to care for your piercings.

Aftercare & Healing

As always, follow the three Golden Rules for piercing and click here for a more detailed post about that!

  1. Keep it Clean
  2. Keep it Dry
  3. Leave it Alone!

Clean with sterile saline twice daily, pat dry with clean kitchen paper/non-woven gauze and avoid soaking/submerging your piercings.

Some healing times to consider:

  • 4 – 6 weeks – come see us for your check up & downsize, you can book that here
  • 3 – 4 months – you’re about halway there! you can safely change your jewellery at home and potentially swap to rings
  • 6 – 9 months – that’s your full heal! everything should be back to normal and fully settled at this point

If you every have any concerns about your piercings, pop in to see us for a check up and we will help troubeshoot with you 🙂

When it comes to getting your nipples pierced, we will always endevour to make you feel at ease, we understand that this piercing can be an intense one and bringing along some moral support is always recommended if you’re feeling a little nervous. Never hesitate to ask for reassurance (or a cuppa!)

In Conclusion

We love nipple piercings here at Rogue, no matter the size or shape, they’re certainly an empowering piercing for everyone with a wonderful and weird history behind them. Whether they’re for functional, sexual or aesthtic purposes – pierced nipples are a great way into the world of body piercing and they’re far more common than you might think!

Special thanks to Dr Matt Lodder for his research guidance, much appreciated!

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