Changing Barbells to Rings in Nipple Piercings

I received a message from a woman whose nipples I pierced and she had questions about changing the jewelry:

Hello Elayne! I got my nipples pierced by you last year when you were at Obscurities, Dallas. I just want to let you know that this is my favorite piercing yet! They healed so beautifully! So after a year I was wondering if getting my jewelry changed to rings instead of barbells would be possible. If I did do the jewelry change (meaning I got to a piercer to get them changed, I'm kinda chicken in that situation) would my nipples once again become tender as they get used to the new jewelry? I still clean them daily. Your input would mean a lot to me! Thank you again for everything you have done! S.

Hi S.,

Great to hear from you! I'm so glad to hear that your nipple piercings healed well and that you're enjoying them!

FYI--I'll probably be returning to pierce in Dallas in 2012 if you are interested in getting something else pierced or know someone who might be.

Anyway, the key to comfort with rings in nipple piercings is selecting a large enough diameter so the part that passes through the channel is relatively straight. If you use a diameter that is too small, that can cause discomfort and other issues. You have options including fixed bead rings (in which the bead is attached), captive bead rings (with gems, tubes, and other ornamental captive options), d-rings, and others.

If the holes are well established and quality jewelry is gently inserted, you can expect a minimum of aftermath. Some people do find there's somewhat of an adjustment period when changing jewelry sizes or styles in nipple piercings, but it should never be like having a fresh piercing! If the piercings do "act up" or feel tender, you can resume saline soaks, and/or applications of emu oil to help them settle back down.

Let me know if you have other questions.


Elayne Angel, Author
The Piercing Bible--The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing
President, Association of Professional Piercers

How long do you reccomend waiting to change jewelry from a barbell to a cbr in a new nipple piercing?

I removed my barbells and tried to reinsert them but I could not.  How can I get them back in?  Do I have to have you put new ones in?  Or can I get the stirrups in myself.  I have a real issue with pain.  It's been a 1 1/2 years since they were done and were well healed.  How long before the Channel closes up?

Piercings can begin to shrink as soon as the jewelry is removed, and on some people they don't stay open really at all!

Get to a piercer immediately and have them check using an insertion taper. You should then get your own taper if you plan to do your own jewelry changes. There are step-by-step instructions in The Piercing Bible on safely changing your jewelry using a taper.