For many people, facial and/or body piercings, along with other forms of body modifications, can be important parts of embodied gender euphoria. For trans and nonbinary folks who bind their chest, are considering top surgery, or who have recently had surgery, here is some important information related to nipple piercings.
Nipple Piercings and Chest Binding
Chest binding is common amongst folks who experience gender euphoria when having a flatter chest and either don’t want, are waiting for, or can’t access chest reconstruction top surgery for a variety of reasons. People who bind their chest can have their nipples pierced, but they may be advised not to wear tight clothes that would rub against their nipples for the entirety of the healing process, which can last up to 6 months. This means that people who regularly bind their chest will likely have to stop chest binding while their nipple piercing heals in order to reduce the risk of infection, pain, and other risks associated with piercings.
Nipple Piercings Before Top Surgery
Having your nipple(s) pierced before top surgery is not a problem at all! Some patients have their nipple piercings up until surgery and some have had their nipples pierced long ago. Here are some considerations:
- If you have your nipple pierced at the time of top surgery, you will be asked to remove the jewelry (and all other facial and body jewelry) before surgery. Nipple piercings sometimes leave two very small circle scars, and in order to help maintain symmetry, let us know that you have had your nipples pierced so we can align those scars the best we can.
- If you had your nipple pierced significantly before top surgery and have not been wearing jewelry in those piercings in quite some time, this will not impact your surgery. There may be some small scars where nipple jewelry once was, so we ask that you let us know about your piercing past so we can align any scars properly during surgery.
Nipple Piercings After Top Surgery
For folks who have had chest reconstruction top surgery and want to pierce their new nipples after surgery, here are our asks:
- Patients with nipple grafts should wait between 6 and 12 months after surgery before they pursue a nipple piercing, or until your surgeon gives you approval.
- Patients without nipple grafts may pierce their nipples around 3 months after surgery. The healing and recovery time without grafts is much quicker.
- If you had your nipples pierced before surgery and want to get them re-pierced after your chest is healed, please seek the advice and support of a professional and licensed piercer. There may be scar tissue (or other considerations), and we recommend relying on the expertise of a professional to help reduce any risk of unnecessary pain, discomfort, or infection.
- Many people have their nipples pierced before top surgery. All we ask is that you take out all jewelry before surgery and let us know that you’ve had your nipples pierced so we can align any scars properly.
- We ask that you wait 6 to 12 months if you had nipple grafts, and at least 3 months if you did not have nipple grafts. If you are unsure about your specific healing timeline, reach out to your surgeon.