Piercing on the nipple and navel: implementation, healing and risks

Piercing on the nipple and navel: implementation, healing and risks

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Nipple piercing
Among the body piercings, piercing the nipples and navel are the most common. The nipple is usually pierced transversely, occasionally from top to bottom, but diagonal pricking is also possible. Depending on the size of the nipple, several pieces of jewelry can be attached one above the other. Sometimes people not only get their nipples pierced, but also the areola.

Nipple Piercing: A European Tradition

Women of the European aristocracy in the 14th century wore wide necklines that even showed the bare chest. Elisabeth of Bavaria adorned her nipples and other women of the ruling class did the same. Rings with precious stones, silver and gold chains attached the jewelry wearers to holes that they had pierced through the nipples. This fashion came to a standstill when the church ended a brief, sensual phase with renewed rigid dress codes.

From the edges to the mainstream

In the 1980s, piercings in Europe and the United States were a hallmark of subcultures on the fringes of society. In the 1990s, celebrities from the show and music business made them popular, for example Lenny Kravitz and Tommy Lee. At the latest the Britney Spears nipple piercing established this body jewelry as a mass phenomenon.

While at the beginning of the 1990s body jewelry pierced by the nipple or areola still blew a breath of wickedness, it is now the most common body piercing. It is even the most widespread piercing among British men, apart from earrings.

Healing and hygiene

The puncture site and its surroundings are disinfected in the professional studio. The piercer marks the point of insertion and removal, fixes the nipple with a clamp and pierces it with a special needle. This is hollow, the piercer puts the ring or plug into the cavity and attaches it to the lancing area by pulling the needle back.

In the weeks after the sting, you should not wear tight clothing on the upper body. Not only can this cause pain when it presses on the wound, it can also slow down healing by rubbing the wound. Also, be careful not to wear contaminated clothing. This will reduce the risk of germs getting into the wound.

Possible complications with breast piercing

Doctors expressly warn of the possible consequences of inadequate care. The wound canal cannot be completely healed up to a year. That means a long-term risk of infection.

If the wound becomes infected, an abscess can form. As the Ärzteblatt informs, based on ten case studies, the time interval from piercing to treatment of an average of 20.8 (2 to 52) weeks suggests that the incubation or wound healing time is prolonged when the nipple is pierced. According to the journal, there are two groups: three early infections, i.e. the breast abscess occurred less than 4 weeks after the piercing, and seven late infections in the period from 3 to 12 months after the stinging.

Sleep, stress and vitamins

As with other small wounds, promote healing through healthy eating with sufficient vitamin C and vitamin E.

Vitamin C is necessary to form connective tissue, it can be found in all citrus fruits, as well as in currants, blackberries and raspberries, apples, pineapples and papaya.

Vitamin E smoothes the connective tissue and is found in green vegetables, nuts, wheat and lentils, as well as in whole grains.

Enough sleep and stress relief also boost healing.

Plugs instead of rings

Immediately after piercing, plugs are more suitable than rings. Rings rotate in the puncture canal, tearing open the closing wound; this disrupts healing and also hurts severely. In addition, firm scab at the puncture points prevents healing. You can prevent this by applying Vaseline or Bepanthen to the sore spots.

Navel piercing

The term navel piercing is strictly speaking, wrong. The piercing is usually not stuck in the navel, but in the skin fold around the navel, either below or above and vertically. With an outward-facing navel, it is also possible, but not recommended, since clothing rubs this area all the time.

Adorning the belly button is the most common type of piercing on the trunk, along with piercing the nipple, and is one of the most common forms of body jewelry. It is particularly widespread among women, often associated with crop tops and tattoos in the lower back. Conversely, it remains invisible under clothing and is therefore also suitable for people who are not allowed to wear visible piercings at their workplace.

In the piercing studio, you usually lie on your back to attach the body jewelry. This prevents circulatory problems and the piercer can work undisturbed. The piercing itself is like nipple piercing. The piercer fixes the area with a clamp and inserts a puncture channel with a venous catheter.

Even more than with the nipple, you should be careful not to wear a ball closure ring initially: infections are common here, can easily spread due to the proximity of the navel to the abdominal tissue and lead to long-term complaints and even dangerous complications.

Belly button plugs made of PTFE, a flexible and anti-allergic material, are suitable. You can simply unscrew the locking balls here and replace them with other motifs. A curved barbell contains a smaller and a larger ball that can be screwed on.

Difficult healing

A piercing on the navel heals with difficulty. Running, stooping, going to the toilet, any outer clothing puts a strain on healing. While the wound on the nipple often heals after a month, recovery at the navel usually takes up to six months. You need to take special care of the scar.

Some people pierce themselves. Especially with the navel, it is not advisable. A navel piercing requires anatomical understanding and manual skill of the piercer. If the navel is deep, it will not pierce the bottom of the navel, otherwise it would take longer to heal. In addition, the jewelry in the navel may disappear.

If the piercer sets the stitch too flat, the piece of jewelry often grows out as it heals; if he sets it too low, the pressure on the wound is strong, which makes healing difficult. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


  • Jacobs, Volker R .; Golombeck, Kirstin; Jonat, Walter; Kiechle, Marion: "Breast abscess after nipple piercing: Overview of published case reports and demands for health policy consequences", in: Deutsches Ärzteblatt, Volume 100 Issue 8, 2003
  • Borkenhagen, Ada; Forehead, Aglaja; Brähler, Elmar: Body Modification: Manual for doctors, psychologists and consultants - tattoo, piercing, botox, filler, aesthetic surgery, intimate surgery, ... bodybuilding, aesthetic dentistry, MWV Medical Scientific Publishing Company, 2013
  • Great, Dominik; Müller, Sabine; Steinmetzer, Jan: Normal - Different - Sick ?: Acceptance, Stigmatization and Pathologization in the Context of Medicine (Human Discourse - Medical Challenges in Past and Present), MWV Medical Scientific Publishing Company, 2007

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