About the Medusa Piercing
The philtrum piercing, also known as the Medusa piercing, has become more and more popular. This is an upper lip piercing that is placed centrally below the septum of the nose and above the upper lip, also known as the “cupid’s bow.” The basic starting jewelry for this piercing is a 16 gauge 3/8” labret stud. A labret stud is a piece of jewelry with a flat back and a straight post. The post attaches to a ball or a small piece that sits on the outside of the piercing. This end piece can be customized to the person—the end can contain a gemstone, or it can contain a plain ball. Since the initial jewelry needs to be longer for healing, some people choose a simpler design in the beginning.
The philtrum takes an average of two to three months to heal and the starter jewelry should stay in for the first two months of being pierced. If there are no problems in the healing process a piercer might change this out to a smaller labret stud, something that has a tighter fit. When you do downsize the most common size for philtrum jewelry is a 16 Gauge 5/16" labret stud. Just because you or your piercer is changing the jewelry to adjust for swelling and healing does not mean it is completely healed. It is going to take two to three months to completely heal, sometimes even longer depending on the person.
Why Is It Called a Medusa Piercing?
Although the name Medusa might make you think of the Greek mythological creature that turned people to stone if they stared directly at her, it has no relation to the piercing at all. Unlike most piercings that have significant reasons for their nicknames, the philtrum piercing gained the nickname Medusa piercing in the 90s when a Canadian hairdresser decided to call a philtrum piercing something other than the anatomical placement.
The Medusa Piercing Process
It is important to find a professional who has completed many of these piercings. This is because proper placement is very important. It is imperative that it is pierced straight and in the center. If the piercing is done at a curve or it is moved to the right or left, it’s going to look out of place and will be more difficult to heal. Keep in mind that if the piercing is placed incorrectly, it can increase the possibility of gum recession and dental erosion.
Philtrum Piercing: What to Expect
The piercer will begin the piercing process by putting on a new, clean pair of gloves. Next, they will clean the outer piece of skin; most piercers will clean the area with an antibacterial substance, such as alcohol, and then they will give you an antiseptic solution to rinse the inside of your mouth out with before beginning the actual piercing process.
The piercer will then mark the exact location of the piercing with a type of pen, and once you agree on the placement, the piercing will begin. The piercer will hold the upper lip with clamps and use a hollow needle to penetrate the tissue of the lip, from the inside out. Once the hollow needle has been inserted, the jewelry will be passed through and set into place.
Does a Medusa Piercing Hurt? What Is The Pain Level?
Just like any piercing, you may experience a little pain. Because of the placement of the philtrum piercing is in an area with lots of nerve endings, the piercing may sting a bit more than others. However, it’s important to remember that it’s just a quick, sharp pain and then it’s over.
What’s often more uncomfortable than the piercing itself is how much it can swell after. Because your lips are vascular, swelling is extremely common—so much so that you might have a “fat lip.” This is why you’re initially pierced with a longer bar; you want to make sure that the jewelry will accommodate any swelling that may occur.
Medusa Piercing: The Healing Process
The medusa piercing healing time can take 2 to 3 months, but this can vary from person to person. In order to heal this piercing, it is important to follow your piercer’s aftercare instructions and keep the initial jewelry in for the first two months. Make sure that you do not touch the jewelry, spin it, or rotate it. It is important to keep the jewelry as stable as possible.
Since this piercing is located in the mouth, it is going to have a lot of natural movement when you talk, eat, and drink. Try to stay conscious about this movement and avoid playing with the labret stud. The initially long bar can get caught on your teeth, so try not to bite on or pull it, as it will irritate your piercing.
Think about the healing process as if you were healing a scab. The more that the piercing is moved and bumped, the more that it is going to delay the healing process. Just like a scab, it is going to re-open and irritate that healing tissue on the inside of the lip. It can also create a buildup of scar tissue, and since this piercing is on the face, you don’t want too much scar tissue showing around the piercing.
Always be cautious about foreign bodies of water, like pools, oceans, ponds, Jacuzzis, and hot tubs. These can introduce foreign bacterium into the piercing and cause infections and delayed healing. Tubs and showers are fine, though. When you’re in the shower, it is okay to take a little bit of antibacterial or antimicrobial soap and later it around the skin of the piercing. This is to help clean all debris, germs, and dirt off your skin and from the area around your piercing. However, you have to be cautious and not get any of the soap into the hole of the piercing.
Philtrum Piercing Aftercare Information
While your piercing is healing, you want to avoid bottle cleaners, such as hydrogen peroxide, Bactine, and Neosporin. Cleaning should happen twice a day, morning and night, with a sea salt soak. You can find a gallon of distilled water and non-iodized sea salt at almost any grocery store or pharmacy. It’s important that you ensure you’re buying distilled water and that it is not substituted for any other type of water. Additionally, it’s important that you use non-iodized sea salt, as it is pure sea salt. Once you have the distilled water, you’re going to add 4 teaspoons of non-iodized sea salt to the gallon and shake it well.
When you are ready to clean the piercing, pour the solution into a shot glass or coffee cup. make sure you are not using cups made of plastic or paper, as it will contaminate the solution. Take the glass and put it in the microwave for a few seconds. The goal is to make the solution room temperature or body temperature; anything hotter than this will burn you and the piercing.
When you have the correct temperature, you want to hold the cup to your upper lip, as if you are going to take a drink. Hold the cup over your piercing for 7 to 15 minutes, which is the recommended cleaning time; anything less is not going to be effective at cleaning the piercing.
After you have finished soaking the piercing, you can take a drink of water or rise the outside of the piercing to get rid of any excess salt.
If you don’t want to worry about mixing the saline solution properly, there are pre-made aftercare products you can use, such as NeilMed Piercing Aftercare or NeilMed Wound Wash.
Important aftercare tips:
- Make sure you always wash your hands prior to cleaning your piercing.
- Make sure you’re practicing good oral hygiene—continue to brush your teeth. However, it’s recommended that you get a new toothbrush so you don’t introduce old bacteria to your piercing.
- Make sure you use alcohol free mouthwash.
Things You Should Avoid After You Get Your Medusa Piercing
During the first two weeks after you get pierced, your piercing will be its most vulnerable.
Therefore, it’s best to avoid the following activities:
- Swimming: Whether you swim in a public or private pool, it just exposes your new piercing to various harsh chemicals and bacteria. This could irritate your piercing and also cause infection.
- Smoking: The chemicals in smoke can seriously damage the tissue around your piercing. This can slow down the healing process by seriously irritating the tissue or it can even lead to infection.
- Drinking: Alcohol can lead to dryness, irritation, and tissue damage. You don’t have to quit drinking forever, but just for the first two weeks to allow time for your piercing to heal.
- Kissing: We know it’s tough, but it’s something for the best interest of your piercing. When you kiss, you transfer saliva. Due to the fact that you have an open wound on your face, it’s best to avoid swapping saliva—no matter how clean the other person is.
- Chewing gum or biting your fingernails: Your fingernails contain bacteria and chewing on them can introduce the bacteria to the open wound of the piercing. Additionally, chewing gum can make you accidentally bite down on the jewelry and cause irritation.
Wrapping It Up
Since a philtrum piercing is highly visible on the face, most people who get them are experienced with body piercing and have piercings on their ears or elsewhere on their bodies. It’s also important to note that when you retire, or take your piercing out for good, there will be a visible scar in the place of the piercing.
However, Medusa piercings are fun, highly popular, and offer a great variety in terms of jewelry.
Disclaimer: If you have any questions or concerns about your piercings make sure to ask a professional piercer or medical Doctor.