Search the FAQ Archives

3 - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M
N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z - Internet FAQ Archives

rec.arts.bodyart: Piercing FAQ 2D--Body Piercings & Their Suggested Jewelry

( PartA - PartB - PartC - PartD - PartE )
[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index | Forum archive ]
Archive-name: bodyart/piercing-faq/jewelry/partD
Last-modified: May 01, 2000
Posting-frequency: Quarterly

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Summary: This posting contains information about body piercing. Anyone 
    interested in the subject and/or who wishes to read/post to 
    rec.arts.bodyart should read the Piercing FAQ first.

The rec.arts.bodyart Piercing FAQ is divided into 30 parts:

2A--Jewelry Materials
2B--Jewelry Sizes & Designs
2C--Facial Piercings & Their Suggested Jewelry
2D--Body Piercings & Their Suggested Jewelry 
2E--Genital Piercings & Their Suggested Jewelry
3--Getting A New Piercing
4A--Professional Organizations, Piercing Instruction
4B--Professional Piercers - United States - Alabama - California
4C--Professional Piercers - United States - Colorado - Iowa
4D--Professional Piercers - United States - Kansas - Nevada
4E--Professional Piercers - United States - New Hampshire - North Dakota
4F--Professional Piercers - United States - Ohio - Pennsylvania
4G--Professional Piercers - United States - Rhode Island - Wyoming
4H--Professional Piercers - Canada
4I--Professional Piercers - Beyond N. America
4J--Professional Piercers - Beyond N. America Cont'd
5--Care Of New Piercings
6--The Healing Process & Healing Problems
7--Healed Piercings
8--Historical Information
9A--Resource List
9B--Resource List Cont'd
10A--Personal Experiences - Facial & Unisex Piercings
10B--Personal Experiences - Genital Piercings
10C--Personal Experiences - Genital Piercings Cont'd
10D--Personal Experiences - Genital Piercings Cont'd
11A--Jewelry Manufacturers
11B--Jewelry Manufacturers Cont'd
11C--Jewelry Manufacturers Cont'd

This section includes:

2D  Body Piercings & Their Suggested Jewelry
   2D.1  Navel Piercings
      2D.1a  "The Navel Piercing - A Better Alternative"
      2D.1b  "Angled Navel Piercings"
   2D.2  Nipple Piercings
      2D.2a  Female Nipple Piercings
      2D.2b  Male Nipple Piercings
      2D.2c  Nipple Piercings and Breastfeeding
   2D.3  Surface & Unusual Piercings

All texts written and (c) 2000 by Anne Greenblatt unless otherwise
Please see Part 1 of the FAQ for information regarding copyright and
dissemination of the FAQ.

DISCLAIMER!  The Piercing FAQ contains material of a sexually explicit
nature. The information contained in the Piercing FAQ should not be
construed as medical advice.

The following contains brief descriptions of each piercing and suggested
jewelry. Healing times offered are estimates. Healing time and success
vary for different people.



4 to 8 months

The shape of the navel varies from person to person. Not all navels can
successfully pierced. An "innie" navel with a prominent lip or rim is
likely to be successfully pierced. Navels lacking a distinct lip often
cannot support a piercing and the piercing migrates or rejects. The
lip is usually more prominent than the lower lip. Often, there is a
indentation or slight wrinkle about the navel at the appropriate
location of
the top entrance of the piercing. The entrances of the piercing should
placed equidistant from the edge of the lip to make the piercing as
close to perpendicular to the tissue as possible.

The shape of one's navel, not one's overall bodyweight, determines
whether or
not a navel piercing is likely to be successful. Some larger women do
posess well-suited navels with a distinct lip.

Placement of the piercing should be determined after examining the
navel when
the piercee is in different body positions. The dimensions of the
should be chosen after measuring the width of the piercing. The navel
lip will
often stretch and flatten when the piercee reclines.

Navel piercings are usually placed vertically and centrally. However, an
asymmetrical navel should be pierced according to its shape. If the top
lip is
more prominent and the inside of the lip forms a wrinkle, the piercing
must be
placed within the wrinkle. If the bottom of the navel forms a wrinkle,
piercing should be centered above the wrinkle as the jewelry will tend
to lay
in the wrinkle. In some cases the most prominent lip is situated
requiring a diagonal or angled piercing. Please see section 2D.1b
Navel Piercings."

A curved barbell is more appropriate than a ring if the piercee's waist
folds at the navel when he/she is sitting - a ring would be pushed to
side, causing the piercing to be uncomfortable, heal crookedly, and
scar. If
the waist folds so much that the navel disappears when the piercee is
seated, the piercing will be uncomfortable and unlikely to heal well,
and it
may reject completely. In this case, piercing should be discouraged.

A curved barbell is more appropriate than a ring if the lip is not
or if it inverts when the piercee reclines. If the lip is not distinct,
width of the piercing often exceeds 1/2", requiring a ring of an
uncomfortably large diameter.

Wearing waistbands over the piercing must be avoided while the piercing
healing, regardless of the style of jewelry worn. Wearing waistbands
the piercing will prolong healing and can cause the piercing to scar,
migrate, or reject completely. If a ring is worn, the waistband will
push it
to one side, causing the piercing to be uncomfortable, heal crookedly,
scar. After the piercing has healed, it can be irritated if tight
are worn over the piercing.

Initial jewelry: Curved barbells in 14 to 10 gauge and 3/8" to 1/2" in
length; the barbell should be 1/8" wider than the width of the piercing
the piercee reclines. A barbell which is too short will constrict the
piercing and restrict blood circulation. Captive bead rings in 14 to 10
gauge and 3/8 to 1/2" in diameter. No more than 1/3 of the ring should
through the piercing. A ring which is too small in diameter will
the piercing and cause the piercing to scar or migrate. Teardrop and
oval-shaped rings designed specifically for navel piercings may be worn
a less obtrusive ring is desired, but they do not provide the same
as curved barbells.

"Outie" Navels

An "outie" navel is a herniated umbilicus, or remnant of the umbilical
which did not heal correctly and retract inwards after birth. Some
navels contain a herniated umbilicus which can easily be felt under the
and usually causes the navel to be extremely asymmetrical. The dormant
vessels of the umbilicus remain connected to the interior of the
abdomen. An
untreated infection could potentially travel via the umbilicus to the

Navel Piercings and Scars from Laparoscopic Surgery

In some cases the scar does not heal correctly and is a potential
for bacteria or untreated infection to travel into the abdominal cavity.
Piercings should not be made through or around the scar.

Navel Piercings and Pregnancy

During pregnancy the length of the piercing will stretch and flatten;
gauge will not stretch. Some women with healed piercings have
worn jewelry throughout their pregnancies. In other cases the ridge of
navel expands and flattens so much as to make the jewelry uncomfortable.
Monofilament nylon or teflon can be more comfortable than metal jewelry
because it is softer and more flexible.

After delivery the navel will return to its original shape but the skin
will very loose and the piercing may sag.

If the piercing is still healing it is unlikely that the piercing can be
maintained; as the stomach enlarges the pressure could easily cause the
piercing to reject. Infection must be avoided; a serious infection could
travel to the interior of the abdomen and possibly affect the pregnancy
the baby. In the interest of maintaining good health and reducing risks
that could affect your pregnancy, abandoning the piercing may be the

Women who have had children usually do not have a risk of the piercing
migrating or rejecting because the skin has been stretched.

2D.1a  "The Navel Piercing: A Better Alternative"
        by Karen Hurt of Future Primitives, San Francisco, California

During the last few years I have observed an alarming number of navel
piercings struggling to heal. Most problems result from jewelry that is
small causing stress to the openings of the piercing. I have seen navel
piercings with 3/8" to 1/2" rings containing 1/2" to 3/4" of tissue. It
would be obvious if a nipple or other piercing contained too much
tissue for
the jewelry; but the navel is less obvious. It is not uncommon for
pierced with a ring to suffer through 6 to 18 months of healing time. 

We have all seen irritated and inflamed navel piercings; many develop
discolored and hardened tissue around the openings. Some migrate and/or
"grow out." This happens because the jewelry is too small and needs to
through the tissue to a position where it is no longer under stress.
Removing the ring and replacing it with a curved barbell has always
these problems, usually within days. A curved barbell allows the body to
move naturally without stress to the piercing and will not cause any of
undesirable effects associated with the use of a ring.

Having worked in a high volume studio for over 5 years, I had the
opportunity to gain much insight into problems associated with
piercings. I
have come to the conclusion that a curved barbell is the best initial
jewelry for optimum comfort and healing. Navels pierced using a curved
barbell generally heal in 3 to 4 months.  

People usually associate rings with navel piercings, but when they are
aware that the healing time is greatly reduced with virtually no chance
any irritation or scarring, they are usually happy to start with curved
barbells. After the jewelry is inserted they also like the look.  

This is a shift in thinking for all of us (piercers and piercees), but
overall benefits become obvious after a few piercings.

Suggested Navel Piercing Procedure 

I encourage all piercers to carefully mark both the inside and outside
navel piercings to insure that the piercing does not contain too much
tissue. All other piercings are marked on both sides and we see much
results in overall appearance and healing. I believe that navel
should be performed with equal care and precision.

Clean the navel with the piercee lying down, and mark a preliminary
placement dot. Assess the overall situation; if the navel area spreads
and/or flattens with no visible flap remaining, a curved barbell should

Have the piercee stand and mark a visually attractive and desirable
outer placement.
Lying down again, carefully measure the distance between the marks. 

Adjust the marks to create a placement width that will accommodate the
jewelry of choice. Generally, both marks will need to be moved closer
together to create a balanced and attractive placement. 

The final placement marks must be aligned and fine tuned with the
standing. Make sure that the final width remains consistent with the
jewelry. The initial curved barbell size should be 1/16" longer than
maximum width of the piercing as measured with the piercee lying down.

If a ring is to be worn after healing, I suggest the following:

Future ring size: Maximum piercing width using a curved barbell:
3/8"           5/16"
7/16"          3/8"
1/2"           7/16"
5/8"           9/16"
Keep in mind that a 5/8" ring often causes irritation to the bottom of
navel. The piercee may benefit from wearing a curved barbell most of the

2D.1b  "Angled Navel Piercings"
        by Elayne Angel of Rings of Desire, New Orleans, Louisiana
        Presented at the Association of Professional Piercers Open
         May 1999
After many years of placing navel piercings vertically I have developed
a superior way. At this point I do the majority of navel piercings at a
distinct angle!

Many navels are built with an arc or ellipse on one side which is more
pronounced than the other. Generally, these also have an apex, which is
the natural fold or crease at the deepest point on the underside. This
is usually set on the side opposite the ellipse. When the piercing is
placed using these natural anatomical features the ring will rest flat
down on the abdomen and frame the area beautifully. It will look
natural, comfortable, and integrated with the body. Many of the
vertical placements look like they are hanging from the body, rather
than part of it.

The piercing must be placed at enough of an angle so that the ring will
rest down flat. If it is only slightly offset, the piercing will merely
end up looking crooked and awkward. This is an art and science

It is true that a curved barbell is a good style to minimize trauma and
difficulty with vertical placements. However, I do find that curved
barbells are harder to clean than rings. Additionally, rings get better
air and blood circulation which is helpful for healing. Unfortunately,
with vertical placement a ring tends to stick-out on many individuals.
Actually, a large percentage of the population is ill-suited to any
form of vertical placement. This is due to a variety of factors
including anatomical, occupational or recreational obstacles, and
through irritation from usual attire.

Since the ring doesn't stick-out and get in the way there are many
advantages which include:

  - less discomfort
  - easier to heal
  - easier to wear clothing over the area
  - less trauma
  - more of the ring is visible (with vertical placement only the edge
of the 
    ring can be seen from the front)
  - frames the individual's anatomy and is custom fit and looks more 
    integrated with the body
  - makes piercing safe and possible for many more types of anatomy;
    smaller navels or those with less tissue may be candidates

Pliability or "pinchability" of the area is important as well. If the
tissue doesn't pinch easily, the individual may not be a good

Some people have a combination "innie"/"outie." Most of these are
wholly unsuited to traditional vertical placement. Depending on the
site (good "pinchability" and absence of any herniation is required)
angling the piercing may make piercing possible for many who otherwise
could not or should not be pierced in that area.

Piercings are foreign objects, and the body's usual job is to rid
itself of foreign objects. Navels have acquired a bad reputation over
the years as an area that has a high rejection rate. This need not be
the case when they are pierced taking the individual's unique anatomy
into consideration.

4 to 8 months

Nipple piercings can be positioned horizontally or vertically. Rings are
usually chosen as the initial jewelry in horizontal piercings because
can be cleaned more easily than barbells. The diameter of the ring
be at least 1/4" wider than the piercing. No more than 1/4 of the ring
should be through the piercing. The ring should comfortably flip up and
down. A ring which is too small in diameter will constrict the piercing
and cause the piercing to migrate and scar. The nipple will swell when
newly pierced. Often, the nipple enlarges permanently as a result of
piercing. The ring must be wide enough to accommodate swelling and
potential enlargement of the nipple. After the piercing has completely
healed a smaller diameter ring can be worn.

Straight and curved barbells are used for vertical piercings. Barbells
be more appropriate than rings for horizontal piercings if the wearer
engages in contact sports or daily physical activities that involve
and carrying. The barbell should be 1/8" longer than the width of the
piercing to accommodate swelling and potential enlargement of the
The barbell balls should be small enough in diameter so that they do not
create pressure against the areola which can cause the piercing to

Jewelry which is too thin is more easily rejected by the body and more
likely to tear the piercing with strenuous play. For most people 14 or
gauge is appropriate. Larger gauge piercings can comfortably withstand
strenuous play. Sensation and stimulation usually increase when larger
gauges are worn.

Multiple piercings can be made perpendicular (alternating horizontal and
vertical piercings) or parallel to one another. Multiple piercings
should be
made separately to prevent scarring and migration; the first piercing
be allowed to completely heal before a second piercing is made. At least
1/8" of tissue should separate the piercings to prevent pressure from
innermost piercing from causing the outermost piercing to migrate out.


Female nipple piercings should be made at the base of the nipple where
meets areola. The piercing should not be made through the areola unless
nipple is inverted.

Bleeding, if there is any, should stop within 12 hours. Wearing halved
panty-liners or nursing pads on the inside of the bra cups will keep the
piercing and the bra clean.

Bras exert pressure on the piercing, particularly if the bra is very
or if the wearer has large breasts. Too much pressure often prolongs
and can cause the piercing to migrate or scar. The bra often pulls the
ring downwards, creating leverage against the piercing. Wearing the ring
flipped up when wearing a bra often reduces pressure. Bras with seams
the nipple easily irritate the piercing. Most women find wearing an
bra more comfortable. Wearing open nursing bras or cutting out the
center of
the bra cups will eliminate pressure on the piercing while providing

Many women with large breasts have found barbells to be much more
comfortable than rings during healing. Many women who have experienced
prolonged or difficult healing while wearing rings have successfully
their piercings after switching to barbells. The barbell balls should be
small enough in diameter so that they do not create pressure against the
areola which can cause the piercing to migrate.

Piercings made through flat or inverted nipples are more likely to
or reject if the nipple continues to flatten or invert with the jewelry
place. In some cases the piercing will shift or migrate slightly while
healing but will eventually settle. If the nipple is more easily pinched
vertically, a vertical piercing is more likely to be successful. In some
cases, the nipple is more easily pinched at a diagonal, or
perpendicular to
the long axis of the nipple. The piercing should not be made excessively
deep on the assumption that it will migrate into place. 12 and 10 gauge
piercings usually resist migration. Piercings in inverted nipples are
sometimes more successful when curved barbells are worn. A curved
will eliminate pressure between the barbell balls and the areola.

The menstrual cycle may cause piercings to become irritated or more
sensitive. The swelling and water retention usually associated with
may cause the nerves in the nipple to become pinched against the

It is not uncommon for the discharge released during healing to seep
the front of the nipple via the penetrated milk ducts.

Initial jewelry: Captive bead rings in 14 to 10 gauge and 5/8" to 1" in
diameter; the diameter of the ring should be at least 1/4" wider than
width of the piercing.


Because most men have very small or flat nipples, the piercing is
made behind the actual nipple and through the areola. Most piercings are
between 3/8" and 7/16" wide. Nipples which are pronounced and wider than
1/4" can be safely pierced through the base of the nipple.

If the nipple is completely flat and cannot be easily pinched, the
of the skin creates pressure on the jewelry which may cause the
piercing to
migrate or even reject completely. Often, the nipple is more easily
vertically, in which case a vertical piercing is more likely to be
successful. In some cases, the nipple is more easily pinched at a
or perpendicular to the long axis of the nipple. In some cases the
will shift or migrate slightly while healing but will eventually
settle. The
piercing should not be made excessively deep on the assumption that it
migrate into place.

Initial jewelry: Captive bead rings in 14 to 10 gauge and 1/2" to 3/4"
diameter; the diameter of the ring should be at least 1/4" wider than
width of the piercing.


Most piercers maintain that nipple piercings are unlikely to interfere
breastfeeding later in life, provided that the piercings have completely
healed with minimal scarring. However, no studies regarding nipple
and breastfeeding have been conducted.

The nipple contains 15 to 20 milk ducts. Nipple piercings intersect the
and the milk ducts perpendicularly. At least a few ducts would be
blocked by
the piercing. There is a risk that the blocked ducts could become
infected if
the milk collects in the blocked ducts and cannot be expressed. Women
who have
recently finished breastfeeding should wait until they have completely
finished lactating before getting pierced. Piercing the nipple will not
lactation but may prolong lactation if the woman has recently breastfed.

For some women, the jewelry becomes extremely uncomfortable during the
final tri-mester when the breasts and nipples enlarge and become more
sensitive. Larger diameter rings may be required to allow for

Breastfeeding can be quite painful at first for many women. Removing the
jewelry for frequent breastfeeding may become tiresome and painful. The
piercing may shrink while the jewelry is out, necessitating an insertion
taper to reinsert the jewelry. Internally-threaded barbells are easier
than rings to remove and replace.

The jewelry can damage the baby's delicate palate and prevent the baby
from forming the tight seal around the areola necessary for breast

Kelly Fahey <> comments:

"I will caveat this by saying that had my nipples pierced well after I
my kid and stopped nursing. So I have experience in nursing and in
nipples, but not in nursing with pierced nipples. I have lactated
consistently since my son was born 5 years ago. I've continued to
lactate no
more or less with pierced nipples than I did with unpierced nipples
(ok, so
it was a bit more at first!).

"There are 2 things that would seem to possibly affect a decision to
the nipples in regard to lactation. The first is that the jewelry would
to be removed during the period of nursing. In my experience, it is
completely unreasonable to think you could remove the jewelry only when
time to nurse. Time to nurse (in the first few months) means every 3 to
hours. Imagine taking time to remove nipple rings at 3 am with a baby
screaming! Pregnancy and nursing change the body incredibly. It's
logical that the piercings would close during this period, and even if
didn't the breasts and nipples are most likely not going to be shaped
the same after weaning.

"The second factor is that breast milk comes from various small openings
(ducts) in the nipple surface, not a single one. I'm certain that some
the milk ducts in the nipple surface are lost in piercing.
Additionally, the
suckling sensation might prove to be really uncomfortable with any scar
tissue formed around a well-healed piercing. Nursing can be intensely
painful all by itself. "

Another woman comments:

"Although I did breastfeed both my girls (the baby until she was 3) I
have my nipples pierced then. I do now, and I think that the gauge of
ring would really mess up the milk expulsion. I still had milk at the
of my nipple piercing although haven't nursed in years, and the rings
pierced the ducts and they now don't express like they did prior to the
piercing. In my opinion it is best to wait on the nipple rings until the
breastfeeding experience is over."

Caro <>, <>,

"I had stopped breastfeeding about six months before I was pierced, and
had, to my knowledge, stopped lactating. When I was pierced, it
lactation, my doctor said. As I wasn't nursing or expressing, I
developed a
breast infection and had to be treated with antibiotics.

"So my response would be this: If you have already nursed a baby, it's
possible that a piercing will cause you to relactate. If you have not
already nursed a baby, piercing will not induce lactation. Note: It is
possible for a woman to nurse an adopted baby, so hormones are not
necessary for lactation, but repeated persistent stimulation of the
kind is required."


Lactation Institute, Encino, CA, (818) 995-1913, Chele Marmet, Director


Many piercers do not perform the following piercings because of the
risks of
scarring and rejection.

Thanks to Shannon Larratt of the Body Modification Ezine for help in
compiling this information. For information about and documentation of
unusual piercings please see the Body Modification Ezine,

Surface Piercings

Also known as surface-to-surface piercings, surface piercings are
in all but the rarest instances. Surface piercings usually reject
the tension of the skin creates pressure on the jewelry. Areas most
frequently attempted include the Madison (piercing made at the base of
neck, between the collarbones); under the chin and along the neck;
along the
forearms or wrist; in the male pubic area.

Various types of jewelry have been used in attempts to successfully heal
surface piercings. Some piercers have tried using monofilament nylon and
teflon on the assumption that the flexibility of the material will
stress on the entrances of the piercing. Stainless Studios has designed a barbell specifically
surface piercings which reduces the pressure between the jewelry and the

Elayne Angel of Rings of Desire commented
the topic of one successful horizontal forehead piercing:

  "I did a forehead piercing on a woman named Jen about 6 years ago,
and it 
  is still in place. I began with a straight piece of 14 gauge
  It took about 8 weeks to heal pretty well but she waited about 3
  to change to a slightly bent barbell. It was very successful, I think
  part because her tissue was pretty pinchable. I was able to start
with a 
  significant amount of tissue, about 5/8"."


The piercing is usually made through the web of skin between the thumb
forefinger. The piercing must not intersect the muscle tissue. Handweb
piercings are temporary in all but the rarest instances. The stress
by hand movements often causes the piercing to reject. Elayne Angel of
of Desire maintained a handweb piercing for
several years which eventually rejected.


The uvula is the "punching bag" in the back of the throat. Most piercers
feel that the risks of performing the piercing are too great to even
consider performing the piercing.

During the Association of Professional Piercers Open Meeting in May 1997
<>, two lectures on anatomy and safe
piercing were
presented by doctors Martin Goldstein and John Ward
<>. Both
discussed the risks of ingesting and inhaling jewelry, swelling
creating an
airway blockage, and the hih risk of infection quickly spreading
upwards into
the sinuses and, potentially, into the brain.


                              Anne Greenblatt
                Manager of the rec.arts.bodyart Piercing FAQ
                             Piercing Exquisite

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

PartA - PartB - PartC - PartD - PartE

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index ]

Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer:
Anne Greenblatt <>

Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM