Students stay abreast with nipple piercing fad

Brianna Schreurs, Reporter

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Wearing a gray T-shirt, Nike baseball cap and leggings, freshman civil engineering major Courtney Lusk likes staying trendy, while blending in. That’s why she wants to get one of her nipples pierced.

According to Lusk, no one is supposed to see the piercing.

“Nipple piercings are fun because they are a secret,” Lusk said. But nipple piercings are proving to be more visible than ever in the past year because of a new fad.

According to Dan McKenzie, longtime professional piercer at Electric Crayon Tattoo and Piercing in Sioux Falls, the number of requests for the piercing have tripled at his shop in the past year, surpassing belly button piercings in popularity.

“They are mostly popular among female college students,” McKenzie said.

The internet is responsible for the piercing trend, he added.

“You always see things coming in trends,” McKenzie said. “The trend has sprouted from pictures. People see pictures and get ideas in their head.”

The trend began online with celebrities Kylie and Kendall Jenner, when they both posted pictures of themselves bearing nipple piercings at the end of 2015, according to People Magazine.

Lusk plans to get her nipple pierced soon. She looked to the Jenner sisters as an influence. According to Lusk, seeing Kendall Jenner with a nipple piercing was the “only reason” she considered the jewelry.

“I look on Instagram Explore and see them,” Lusk said. “They look so cool and edgy.”

Alexandra Stetter, junior advertising major, got both of her nipples pierced in December. It was a quick process that cost her $30 per piercing.

According to Stetter, her influence wasn’t from anyone online. She discovered the piercing on her own.

“I’ve wanted to get it done since I was 18,” Stetter said. “So, I researched future complications — if it would affect having kids — how to care for them and how they were different from other piercings.”

Lindsay Olson, a nurse practitioner at the Wellness Center, said any piercing raises risk for complications such as infection, nerve damage, allergic reaction, cysts, red raised scars (called ‘keloid scars’), Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or even HIV.

Because the nipple has so many blood vessels that do not heal quickly around it, the complications pose a bigger threat to the person, Olson said.

Potential problems, like blocked milk ducts and difficulty for a baby to latch on properly, can occur if the piercing is left in while breastfeeding, Olson said. But it should not be an issue if the person takes the piercing out before.

According to Olson, research is important. And knowing how to care for the piercing, as well as who the piercer is, “are a must.”

“Do your homework,” Olson said. “This needs to be a big decision, and make sure you are doing your research and think it through very carefully before taking this type of cosmetic procedure on.”

Stetter said she loves her nipple piercings, but didn’t get them to be rebellious or trendy.

“I like having it for myself,” Stetter said. “I feel empowered, because I wanted to [get nipple piercings] and I did. I wanted freedom.”

Getting a piercing isn’t for the weak. McKenzie and Stetter agreed, a nipple piercing hurts the same as the most painful piercing: belly button piercings.

Stetter has multiple piercings and tattoos and, although she read the piercing would be painful, to her it “didn’t hurt that bad.”

While Stetter said the piercing didn’t initially hurt, one bled and both were sore for a while.

“Pain and occasional bleeding are part of the process,” McKenzie said. The piercings need at least six months to heal and extra care so they don’t snag on clothing.

Because of the pain, online sources said not to wear a bra, but Stetter disagreed.

“There’s so many nerves in the breast tissue,” Stetter said. “I felt better wearing a bra, because there was something there that didn’t cause friction.”

The trend has gotten so popular the “Circular Barbell Bralette,” a bra with fake nipple rings, is available for those who want the look of having nipple piercings without the pain.

Lusk has seen the bra, but thought the rings were too big and obvious. She believes if anyone wants to be trendy, they should “do it for real.”