Nipple piercing is a process involving the placement of a ring, bar or stud onto a nipple for decorative effect. Though nipple piercing will not usually cause immediate problems, long-term effects of piercing should be taken into consideration by anyone contemplating this procedure. Problems such as infection, allergic reactions and scarring can occur.
The healing process for nipple piercing takes much longer than most piercing procedures. Nipple healing time can take three to six months, where most other areas only take two to 10 weeks. With this healing process comes the possibility of infection. Cysts, hematoma (blood-filled tissue) and breast abscess formations are all possible side effects of nipple piercing. Hepatitis B and C and HIV are possible from nipple piercing, though these particular side effects are rare, according to MSNBC.
Scarring, typically called Keloid scarring, is another long-term effect of nipple piercing. This kind of scarring is recognizable by the raised, red skin that appears around the nipple. For women who eventually give birth, this can cause problems when breastfeeding. Though these instances are rare, it is possible that an infant will not be able to attach to the nipple while feeding or that milk will be blocked from flowing out of the nipple.
Allergic reactions to the metals in jewelry is a common ailment in nipple piercing. Because the skin in and around the nipple is highly sensitive, it is prone to react to the metals. Some women experience hardened nipples years after the procedure, a common reaction to a piercing. Nerve damage is also possible if the piercing is not done correctly. Consult a doctor if any of these symptoms should occur. Many of these symptoms can also be avoided if you only pierce your nipples once.
Prevention of these side effects is possible. If you are considering nipple piercing, immunize yourself against Hepatitis B and C and get a tetanus shot. The minute you see signs of a bacterial infection, go to your doctor for antibiotics. Remove your nipple jewelry while taking the antibiotics until the infection clears.
Brittiany Cahoon began writing professionally in 2003. She has been published as a reporter and columnist in the "Mountaineer Progress," "The Rattler" and other regional newspapers. Cahoon holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Brigham Young University.