Piercings: Do's And Don'ts
Pierced nipples pose no risk to breast implants, per se, but nipple piercings can nonetheless cause harmful complications and infections for breast augmentation patients.
Women who have pierced nipples are eligible for breast augmentation, but should know there is no guarantee their piercings will survive the surgery.
Infection And Antibiotics:
Breast augmentation surgery exposes the body to a high risk of infection; fortunately, antibiotics drastically reduce the incidence of infection. Patients generally receive antibiotics via an IV during surgery, and are prescribed antibiotics for the week or so following surgery.
Nipple piercings must be removed during surgery. Piercings increase the risk of infection, and infection in conjunction with a new implant can mean removing the implant, if the infection does not respond to antibiotics. For this reason, some surgeons recommend keeping the piercing removed for six months after the surgery. Unfortunately, this may cause the piercing to close, especially in the case of newer piercings.
Thus, more pragmatic surgeons remove the piercing during surgery, and replace the sterilized jewelry immediately afterward, to keep the piercing from closing. In this case, the surgeon advises that if any irritation or inflammation occurs, the piercing be removed immediately. If this occurs, consult your surgeon, who may tell you to keep the jewelry out permanently. After all, losing a piercing is better than losing an implant.
Piercing After Implants?
Women who already have implants are generally warned not to pierce their nipples. Nipple piercing causes problems 38 percent of the time, and nipple infection can easily spread to the breast tissue and the tissue surrounding the implant, which is when the implant must be removed. Surgeons thus consider piercing an unnecessary risk, especially since over 20 percent of all women with breast implants need a reoperation as it is.
Breast implants cause the loss of nipple sensation in roughly 15 percent of women, regardless of whether the woman has piercings. This complication occurs when the nerves are damaged in surgery or afterwards, when the body adjusts to the implant.
A 2006 study found that the likelihood of this complication increases with breast implant size. Breast implants that are too large for your body will greatly increase the risk of losing nipple sensation and other complications as well.
Many women lose nipple sensation immediately following surgery, but find that that sensation returns in the proceeding weeks, as the breast heals. Massaging the nipples and breast can help speed the process.
In the case of lost sensation, women with piercings must be especially vigilant for inflammation that could signify infection.
Again, the piercing is less problematic than the infection it can cause. If you do have a pierced nipple and get breast implants, be especially careful to keep your piercing clean and sterile.