Nipple Piercings and Breast Implants

17 April, 2019 Nurse Justine

Piercing

Let’s run through the basics of a nipple piercing.

  1. Nipple piercings with breast implants = a higher risk of infection.
  2. It doesn’t matter if you've had your piercings in place for years, or if you decide to get your breasts pierced after surgery.

The mammary ducts of the nipple are not sterile and contain endogenous flora - bacteria that lives on our skin. This bacteria can cause infections if it's introduced into our bodies. The nipple’s mammary ducts are essentially a fast track highway from the skin's surface to the deep breast tissue.

If you have a nipple piercing, the entry points can act as easy access points this deep breast tissue…which includes the implant itself. This may result in an infection in the breast implant cavity, and if the infection is serious enough, the implant may need to be removed.

That’s why, Surgeons will often opt for a ‘nipple shield’ when performing a breast augmentation; to reduce contamination of the implant with skin bacteria.

This is one of the reasons why we also say no upper-half sexual contact for at least 6 weeks post-surgery – no germy mouths thanks.

Do you have to take your nipple piercings out before surgery?

It depends. If you're getting a breast lift - yes. Breast lifts usually involve a periareola incision (around the areola) which have a higher risk of infection than the inframammary incision (under the breast crease). So, a nipple piercing is just an extra liability.

If you’re getting a straight forward breast augmentation, then you can swap out your metal bars for a plastic version. Surgeons will often use a diathermy machine which cauterises the skin and stops bleeding. Metal can attract the heat from the machine and cause burns. Make sure you swap your piercings out at least a week (if possible longer) before surgery.

How long should I leave my nipple piercings out after surgery?

You will need to leave your plastic bars in for at least three months. Removing and replacing jewellery can allow for the introduction of bacteria.

How long after surgery should I have to wait before I get my nipples pierced?

We recommend waiting at least three months. But keep in mind it is still possible to get an infection!

I’ve had my nipples pierced for 5 years and now I want to get implants. What’s the big deal?

Knocking the piercing or removing and replacing the jewellery can irritate the skin...allowing bacteria to enter and cause infection.

Side note:

Although there are no specific studies on nipple piercings and capsular contracture. We do know that capsular contracture is a result of unwanted bacteria in the implant cavity. So maybe there’s a link here? Maybe I should conduct my own study. What a read that would be.

Although it's possible to have your cake and eat it too (aka nipple piercings and implants) just ask yourself: Is the risk worth the reward? Make sure you’re informed of the potential complications.

Surgeons may have different guidelines so make sure you consult your doc – these points are not a substitute for professional medical advice.

- Nurse Justine