Lip piercing is widely practiced all over the world by different ethnic tribes. Malawi’s Makololo female tribe members wear lip plates called Palele in their upper lips for beauty. The female members of the Saras-Djinjas tribe, on the other hand, insert lip plates up to 24 cm in diameter in both lips as a betrothal ritual.
For the Dogon tribe of Mali, the lip piercing is done for religious reasons. They believe that their ancestor spirit called Noomi, who also created the world, weaved a thread through her teeth and out came speech.
Types of Lip Piercings
Angel Bites Piercing
Essentially, the angel bites piercing is a combination of the Madonna and the Monroe piercings, and it is similar to the snake bites piercing but located on the upper lip and not the lower one. They involve two separate piercings, both on the upper lip and on both sides, instead of just one of the sides of your lip.
Canine Bites Piercing
Canine bites piercings involve single piercings that are performed on both sides of both the lower and upper lips. Essentially a combination of the snake bites piercing and the angel bites piercing, the piercings total four separate piercings, giving your lips a very full look. The actual surface of the lip is usually not pierced as a general rule, with the exceptions of horizontal lip piercings and the canine bites piercing.
Cyber Bites Piercing
With a cyber bite piercing, one piercing is done at the top of the lip in the center, and the other piercing is done just below the bottom lip. It is two separate piercings, and they are always opposite of one another, with one on the lower lip and the other in the middle of the upper lip.
Dahlia Bites Piercing
The dahlia piercing is unique in that it is done at the corners of the mouth. Although very commonly done in pairs, this is not a requirement to be called a dahlia piercing. With the dahlia piercing, each of the two corners of the mouth has a separate piercing, and more often than not, people use either two steel balls or rings in each of their two piercings.
Dolphin Bites Piercing
Consisting of two separate piercings that are centered on the lower lip, the dolphin bites piercing is similar to the snake bites piercing, except they are closer together. They are placed at the center of the lower lip or just below the lip, and they are two separate piercings. In addition, many people place the piercings in the lowest part of the lip or a bit lower than usual, making for a very unique and eye-catching piercing.
Very similar to the vertical labret piercing, the jestrum piercing is done at the top lip and is similar to the Medusa piercing. It is sometimes called a vertical Medusa for this reason, and it is placed in the upper lip philtrum area directly under the nasal septum.
However, unlike the Medusa piercing, the jestrum piercing uses a curved barbell and not a stud or gem, and therefore both ends of the piercing will be visible externally after the piercing is complete. In the jestrum piercing, the lower part of the barbell will curve around the underside of the upper lip, and the piercing is sometimes used alongside a lower labret piercing in order to form a look that is more symmetrical.
Although they are not actually attached to the lip, a labret piercing is still usually considered a type of lip piercing. The procedure is done just under the lip and above the chin, but other positions are also available to accommodate the customer’s personal preferences and tastes.
Considered both an oral and a facing piercing, these piercings are often called tongue pillars because the area is pierced horizontally from the back to the front.
In these types of piercings, the placement is extremely important, because if the bar is too short the piercing will sink into the lip and cause great pain and discomfort. If you choose this type of piercing and you intend to wear a ring, the technician should always perform the piercing at a slight angle so that the ring doesn’t rub against your teeth.
When it comes to labret piercings, you’ll notice many different types in your research, which can be viewed easily on the Internet.
A Madonna lip piercing is a labret that is put off-center on the right upper lip, and it is named so because of the number of stars who have moles or beauty marks on that part of their lips. The 14-gauge labret studs or jeweled studs look especially attractive with this type of piercing, and the main difference between the Madonna and the Monroe piercing is the side of the face where the labret is placed.
In the Madonna piercing, the ring is installed on the upper right-hand side of the lips, whereas the Monroe piercing is done on the upper left-hand side.
Much like the Madonna and Monroe piercings, which both involve the upper lip, the Medusa piercing also occurs at the upper lip, only the specific location is the area just below the nose, called the philtrum region. The piercing is centered directly under the septum and therefore, it must be done correctly in order to keep the same face symmetry.
Most often, a labret stud is used as the jewelry, and it generally has a ball sitting outside the mouth right in the dip of the top part of the lip. The jestrum is a variation of the Medusa piercing, and it involves a piercing that is placed vertically through the lip by using a curved barbell, allowing both beads to be visible. The right technician will make sure it is done correctly so that the symmetry of your face doesn’t end up lopsided or uneven.
Named after Marilyn Monroe, this type of piercing is done while attempting to resemble the birthmark on the late star’s face. It is a piercing placed on the left-hand side on top of the upper lip to one side. More often than not, a labret stud is worn in this type of piercing, and it is typically fitted with a labret that is 14-, 16, or 18-gauge in size, with the bars often shortened after the healing time is complete.
The Angel Bite piercing is a variation of the Monroe piercing, and in that style of piercing, a double version exists whereby the piercings are visible on either side of the upper lip. Most people choosing this type of piercing choose jewelry that has either a ball or some type of gem at the tip of it.
A Monroe piercing can be painful, in part because that part of your body has a very large system of nerves in it. There is also the danger, however small, that the technician will accidentally hit the superior labial artery. The amount of pain does depend on the individual getting the piercing, and if you have well-exercised facial muscles or extra-thick lips, the procedure can be more painful in the long run.
Shark Bites Piercing
Consisting of two piercings that are close to one another and cover both sides of the lower lip, the shark bites piercing is essentially a pair of viper bites and spider bites piercings. The piercings total four just like the canine bites piercing, but in the shark bites piercing, the steels are much closer together.
Snake Bites Piercing
In a snake bite piercing, there are two actual piercings that are separated evenly on the lower lips, resembling the bite of a snake, hence the name. Although a regular labret piercing is centered right under the lip, the snake bite piercing consists of two separate piercings that are placed at the right and left sides of the lips.
There are two basic types of snakebite piercings – the ring piercing and the labret stud which is placed underneath both sides of the lip. You can actually get both of these piercings at the same time if you wish.
Spider Bites Piercing
Also called the viper bites piercing, the spider bites piercing is actually a pair of piercings located close to one another and placed on the bottom lip. The piercing is similar to the snake bites piercing, but they are closer together in comparison.
If you choose the spider bites piercing, you should get them one at a time because they are usually quite painful to get. If you get the first piercing, you should wait until it is completely healed, and when the healing is complete you can get the second piercing.
Vertical Labret Piercing
This is a type of labret piercing and involves a lower bead that is placed where a normal labret piercing usually is; in other words, it is just below the lip. The main difference is that the piercing goes in the upper direction and comes out at the top or slightly forward on the lower lip, and not passing through to the interior of the mouth.
In other words, the vertical labret piercing allows you to see both sides of the actual piercing, with most people using a curved barbell when they receive this type of piercing.
Procedures for Lip Piercing
The general procedure for lip piercing involves the following steps:
- The technician makes marks on the outside of your lips so that he or she will know exactly where the piercings need to go
- A strong antiseptic is used on the markings, using products such as Gentian Violet
- Using forceps, the technician stretches the lips out with a bid in order to line up all of the marks that have been made
- The piercings are made using a special instrument that resembles a small mechanical gun
- The technician screws in the bead to the post
Contrary to what many people believe, a lip piercing isn’t as painful as you might think, although the pain level varies with each individual. The amount of pain is directly related to the type of piercing you choose, the thickness and overall condition of your lips, and of course, your own personal level of tolerance to pain.
Costs of the Lip-Piercing Procedures
Several things can directly affect the cost of the lip-piercing procedure that you choose, including the location where the piercing takes place, the metal or jewels used in the jewelry that you intend to have installed, the number of piercing that you wish to get, as well as many other factors. However, more often than not, lip piercing costs from $20 to $120, although as in many other products, this is merely an estimate, which means your costs could be higher or lower in many cases.
Jewelry Used in Most Lip-Piercings
Criss Cross Lip Rings
These are essentially made like two lip cuffs but fit on your lip in a crisscross shape. They are very decorative and can be found in stores such as Etsy, and they are quite attractive and enjoyed by millions of people who have lip piercings of any type.
These are hoops that look like rings, but have openings at one end, looking more like a solid ring with a part missing. They can come in yellow gold or white gold, among other materials, and can come with or without jewels or studs in them. Stores such as Etsy and Walmart, usually carry them, and the selection truly offers something for everyone.
Thin and available in a wide variety of colors, lip cuffs are placed over the upper or bottom lip and sometimes need no piercing in order to use them. They are a big fashion statement today and fit comfortably and tightly over the front part of the lip, with the two ends fitting on the top and bottom of the lip itself.
Undoubtedly some of the cheapest types of lip jewelry, they are very thin and usually made in basic silver or gold. They resemble hoop earrings or regular rings, and they are easily attached to the lips after the piercing is complete.
Lip Rings Made in Various Shapes
A popular choice with most people who have their lips pierced, today’s lip rings come in hundreds of designs, styles, and sizes. These rings grab and cup your lower or bottom lip, and their designs and shapes can include snakes, hands, skulls, a variety of animals such as cats or penguins, and many others. In fact, whatever you’re looking for you are likely to find it, because the selection is just that varied.
These can be diamonds, gold or silver studs, or a variety of other gems, including rubies, emeralds, topazes, sapphires, or turquoise gems. The pricier the gem is, the costlier the lip ring is, so you can get them in a variety of price ranges. Studs can also be internally threaded and come with tips that can be small or large in size. In addition to regular round studs, some studs are shaped like diamonds or other shapes and can even include those that stick up quite far above your lip and mouth.
Recovery and Healing After You Get Your Piercing
- Make sure that your mouth is clean after each time you eat. Do this by using an antimicrobial, alcohol-free mouthwash. The alcohol found in many types of mouthwash and mouth rinses can make the area that is pierced even worse, which is why you should avoid these types of rinses altogether. You can also make a homemade mouthwash by mixing some non-iodized sea salt and a small amount of water, but the important thing to remember is to make sure you rinse your mouth thoroughly after every meal that you eat.
- Never touch your piercing. Whenever possible, try to avoid completely touching your piercing. Touching it can put a real strain on the wound itself, which can result in a serious infection. Even if you wash your hands first, it is always advisable to stay away from touching your piercing, unless it is time to clean it. Especially when you first get your lip pierced, it is very tempting to touch and play with the piercing, but with the exception of the thorough cleanings you need to do daily, this action should always be avoided.
- Make sure both your jewelry and the pierced area is as clean as possible during your cleaning sessions. These cleaning sessions are only necessary once or twice a day because if you clean them more often than that, the already irritated area can become worse. To clean your pierced areas and the jewelry that goes with it, you can use a mild soap and warm water, but never leave the soap on these areas more than 30 seconds at a time.
- Always pat the area and the jewelry dry instead of rubbing it. Your pierced area is always going to be prone to irritation until it is completely healed, so being gentle with the cleaning is an absolute must. Use the pat-drying method to get rid of any moisture on the area that results from the cleaning, and always apply gentle, not harsh, pressure.
FAQs about Lip Piercings
1. Do Lip Piercings Scar the Lips?
As a general rule, yes, they do. However, you can often remove these scars, if you wish to, if you hire a professional.
2. Do the Scars Disappear Over Time?
Sometimes they do. The smaller the hole that results from the piercing, the less noticeable they are over time, but even if they remain there, they are usually no more than a very small dot.
3. Will Lip Piercings Affect the Way You Eat?
Yes and no. For the first few days after the piercing, eating can be more delicate and difficult, although no changes to your diet should be needed. Just eat whatever is easiest to eat, and after your lip is completely healed, eating should be no problem whatsoever.
4. Can Lip Piercings Be Damaging to Your Teeth and Gums?
As a general rule, no. Of course, if you accidentally bite the post hard enough, you can damage your teeth, but you are more likely to cause gum damage in that instance instead. Sometimes the sensitive gum tissue can be irritated if you choose a lip piercing done with a post, but if you wish to reduce this from happening, simply have the technician shorten the post when it is comfortable to do so, which is usually six to eight weeks after the piercing.
5. How Do Lip Piercings Affect Kissing and Other Intimate Acts?
If you keep in mind that you have an open wound in your mouth, you’ll understand why it is crucial to wait until you are completely healed before you do anything involving bodily fluids. Bodily fluids from even a monogamous partner will certainly be shared, and although sex should be safe, kissing may require you to clean your piercings afterward and your partner to wash with a mouth rinse afterward so that all precautions can be taken. Overall, it is unlikely that any type of infection will occur with these types of activities, but as the saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry.
6. Can I Hide My Piercings?
Because these piercings are going to be on either your mouth or your lips, they are impossible to hide. Because of this, it may be necessary for you to take out your piercings if you have a job that doesn’t allow you to have any type of visible piercings. If this is so, it is best not to remove them until the area is completely healed – usually six to eight weeks after they are pierced. Other than that, taking them out or putting them back in should not affect the overall condition or health of your lips.
7. Why Is the Post Used So Long in the Beginning?
Lips will naturally swell a little after they are first pierced, making them larger, and the long posts keep the piercing comfortable until the healing period is complete. In six to eight weeks, a newer, shorter post can be put in because the healing period will be over and the swelling will have gone down tremendously.