Skip to main content

Breast abscess following nipple piercing: a case report and review of the literature



Nipple piercing gains popularity and social acceptance within the last years, especially among young people. The medical literature reports an increase of complications in the post-piercing period.

Case report

We report a case of a young woman, who presented with a light enlargment of the right breast and tenderness in the retroareolar region following nipple piercing 5 months ago. On ultrasound, a poorly marginated hypoechoic lesion was seen which was suspicious of an inflammation. After 1 week of antibiotic therapy, the mass had enlarged. As carcinoma could not be excluded, open biopsy was performed. Histology showed signs of chronic mastitis.


To date, only a few reports of breast abscess after nipple piercing have been published. With the increasing prevalence of body piercing, it is important to document and report infections which may be discovered many months following piercing. Carcinoma can mimick breast abscess and should be included in the differential diagnosis.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Volker J, Golombeck K, Walter J, Kiechle M (2003) Brustabszess nach Brustwarzenpiercing. Deutsches Aerzteblatt 100(8):394–397

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Meyer R (2001) Piercing. Gefaehrlicher Koerperschmuck. Deutsches Aerzteblatt 98(13):819–820

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Tweeten SS, Rickman LS (1998) Infectious complications of body piercing. Clin Infect Dis 26:735–740

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Fiumara MJ, Capek M (1982) The Breastwarze or nipple ring. Sex Transm Dis 9:138–139

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Javaid M, Shibu M (1999) Breast implant infection following a nipple piercing. Br J Plast Surg 52:676–677

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Ochsenfahrt C, Friedl R, Hannekum A, Schumacher BA (2001) Endocarditis after nipple piercing in a patient with bicuspid aortic valve. Ann Thorac Surg 71(4):1365–1366

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    de Kleer N, Cohen M, Semple J, Simor A, Antonyshyn O (2001) Nipple piercing may be contraindicated in male patients with chest implants. Ann Plast Surg 47:188–190

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Trupiano JK, Sebak BA, Goldfarb J, Levy LR, Hall GS, Procop GW (2001) Mastitis due to mycobacterium abscessus after body piercing. Clin Infect Dis 33:131–134

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Brook I (2001) Recovery of anaerobic bacteria from 3 patients with infection at a pierced body site. Clin Infect Dis 33:12–13

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Lewis CG, Wells MK, Jennings WC (2004) Mycobacterium fortuitum breast infection following nipple piercing, mimicking carcinoma. Breast J 10(4):363–365

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Jacobs VR, Colombeck K, Jonat W, Kiechle M (2002) Drei Fallsbeispiele von Brustabszess nach Brustwarzenpiercing, Unterschaetzte Gesundheitsprobleme eines Modephaenomens. Zentralbl Gynakol 124:378–385

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Bengualid V, Singh V, Singh H, Berger J (2008) Mycobacterium fortuitum and anaerobic breast abscess following nipple piercing: case presentation and review of the literature. J Adolesc Health 42(5):530–532

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Kamal MR, Hamed ST, Salem DS (2009) Classification of inflammatory breast disorders and step to step diagnosis. Breast J 15(4):367–380

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Wong C, Wright C, Colclough A, Marsh S (2006) Case report: metaplastic carcinoma presenting as a breast abscess. Int Semin Surg Oncol 3:23–25

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Cappellani A, Di Vita M, Zanghi A, De Luca A, Tomarchio G, La Porta D, Lanzafame S, Alfano G (2004) A pure primary squamous cell breast carcinoma presenting as a breast abscess: case report and review of literature. Ann Ital Chir 75(2):259–262

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Conflict of interest statement


Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Smaragda Kapsimalakou.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kapsimalakou, S., Grande-Nagel, I., Simon, M. et al. Breast abscess following nipple piercing: a case report and review of the literature. Arch Gynecol Obstet 282, 623–626 (2010).

Download citation


  • Nipple piercing
  • Breast abscess
  • Breast ultrasound