3 Sep 2012

I received a message from a woman I'd pierced previously. She went to a different piercer to get her nipples done and ended up with initial jewelry that was inappropriate (too small):

Good morning Elayne,
Nipple Ring too small for initial piercingI wish to thank you for your help and insight in regards to my recent nipple piercings that I did for my husband's birthday in Key West, Florida. It will be one month tomorrow since the piercing was done. They seem to be healing ok, no pain, but I am getting a thick, yellow-greenish discharge on an almost daily basis from each nipple. Is this NORMAL? I clean the daily crustys off with a saline soaked Q-tip, and I am trying to get at least two saline soaks in each day (however, somedays I only get one in).

I am concerned about having the ring in and having the piercing not straight (rounded on the ends) and am wondering if I can exchange the jewelry and put in a straight bar for the  rest of the healing period?

Also, you had mentioned to my husband that if we wanted to "play" with them, that it would have been better to have gone to a 14 gauge. If I do this, is the healing process the same, and will it have any effect on the looks due to being re-pierced? Hopefully, if I do this I will only have you do it...I will check your schedule and see where you are going to be.
Thank you again for all your help and expert advise.

My reply:

I DEFINITELY suggest having those changed out for properly fitting straight barbells that have a little bit of room on each side. I think you'll have much more effective drainage without the constriction on the lower part of the sides of each piercing. You also risk migration by leaving in the jewelry. Below is a photo of a woman who should have changed out her rings that were too small. Instead the piercings migrated significantly.Nipple Migration from too-small rings

You will NOT need to be repierced. The piercing can be stretched up to 14 gauge after you are fully healed, though that is quite a few months away. You can go to piercer to have that done. Here's a bit of info from my book about stretching:


If you’ve seen photographs of African women with huge plates in their lips, you have witnessed the astounding elasticity of the human body. The practice of stretching pierc- ings (sometimes referred to as gauging up or simply gauging) for the purpose of wearing larger jewelry has gained popularity and acceptability, much like body piercing itself. Some of today’s stretching harkens back to the appearance of primitive tribesmen with enlarged ear, septum, or lip piercings. Other stretching is done on nipple or genital piercings for increased sensation. You may want to go up only one size from your ini- tial jewelry, or you might yearn for a gigantic perforation in your body. Regardless of your motives or goals, the method is the same: stretch piercings slowly and gradually.

Typically even old piercings can’t usually go up more than one size at a time, barring heavy play, wearing weights, or tearing from trauma. You must allow a sufficient inter- val of time between each enlargement for your tissue to fully regain its suppleness and integrity; only then is it safe to go further. Skin is remarkably resilient if not abused, but if you become impatient and try to force your piercing, the consequences can be severe. Overstretching tends to result in a buildup of scar tissue and reduction of flex- ibility, which can limit your capacity to stretch in the future—or shrink back to normal, if desired. Failure to adhere to appropriate procedures can cause the total destruction and loss of your piercing from tissue necrosis (death).

Nipple Ring too small for initial piercingWhen to Stretch

Human tissue varies considerably, so there is no set timetable that is correct for stretch- ing each type of piercing. In fact, it is possible to have a pair of matching piercings with one side that stretches easily and the other that just won’t give.

Before attempting any expansion, it is safest to wait a minimum of two to three times the duration your piercing took to heal. For quick-mending areas, doubling the initial healing period is sometimes sufficient, but the longer your healing period, the more extended your delay should be before gauging up.

After stretching to a thicker gauge, you generally need to let the tissue recuperate and stabilize for a minimum of several months before attempting to fit in the next one. The gauge measurements become progressively bigger, so the stretch from 14 to 12 gauge isn’t sizable (.43 mm), but going from 4 up to 2 gauge is a significant jump (1.36 mm). The larger you go, the longer you usually need to wait between stretches. This is due to the escalating size differences between gauges, and also because the tissue often becomes more difficult to expand as you strain its capacity.

She wrote backNipple with properly fitted barbell

I wish to thank you for your recent help in regards to my newly pierced nipples.  Please see below, I did purchase new barbells (5/8"). I was a little concerned when they came in the mail.  I thought they were going to be too large/long.  Well I guess I didn't realize my nipples were larger than I had perceived them to be. I was also worried that the balls on the ends would go through the pierced openings. My husband did a very nice job putting them in, me...a little nervous, but for first timers, we did ok.  They seem to be healing nicely, getting less and less discharge every day. I am continuing to soak them daily, and they are not sore or irritated.

Your assistance is greatly appreciated.
Best regards,

Nipple piercings with bars, and navel piercing with gems

It is not surprising to me that the bars fit better than you thought they would. That is because your tissue was constricted by the rings, which were too small. When the tissue had a chance to relax out, you found (as I expected) that just a little of the post is exposed. What you have there is an excellent fit for healing nipple piercings.


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