Piercing has considerably evolved along the years. What was once considered a mark of prostitution or a symbol of a husband’s wealth has become a way of expressing one’s true personality. We use body adornments for fashion purposes, to highlight our best features, to rebel, or simply to show the world what we’re all about. While many types of piercings are trendy nowadays, the Medusa piercing might just be the sexiest of them all. It highlights the lips, makes the mouth look more appealing and can give you an instant confidence boost. No wonder it’s so popular!
Traditionally, a Medusa piercing is located in the very center of the lip, just above the lip line. If you’re looking for a more technical term, this section of the lip is referred to as the philtrum. Regularly, these types of piercings accommodate only a simple stud or ball, but you can easily take it one step further. We’ve seen a lot of interesting choices when it comes to piercing jewelry. Even better – we’ve gathered our favorite ones below, along with some background on piercings and a few tips for people who may be in the market for one. Read on!
A bit of history
Body piercing has a long and interesting history. As a matter of fact, the first piercings are dated back to almost 5,000 years ago. In ancient times, piercings varied in both meaning and placement. In African culture, people used to pierce their lips or tongues, while in Israel the nose and ears were more popular choices. In Rome, however, pierced nipples were all the rage. As for symbolism, people used piercings to keep demons out of their brains, as a sign of wealth, or as a mark of prostitution. Crazy, right?
Starting with the 1500s, hairstyles that exposed the ears became popular, so earrings started to become a thing. In the 1970s and 1980s, nose piercings, like the septum, became sought after with the rise of the punk scene and were seen as a sign of rebellion. And in the mid-1990s and early 2000s, piercings hit their peak. You can safely say that a piercing craze was in full bloom, and it all started when Christy Turlington stepped onto the runway sporting a belly button piercing. This was happening in 1993. Then, Naomi Campbell added a chain belt which linked to her navel ring. Lastly, Britney Spears spurred a whole revolution of belly button gems and crop tops, and the world as we know it was changed forever.
And now? Both tattoos and piercings are extremely popular and aren’t reserved for teenagers alone anymore. We have access to semi-permanent and permanent body adornments alike, while plenty of celebrities are known to have a soft spot for piercings, including big names like Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, or Daria Werbowy. Thanks to the rise of the body positive movement, we’re encouraged to embrace our bodies. Piercings and tattoos aren’t seen as acts of rebellion anymore. Instead, they’re considered manifestations of one’s personality. Or at least they should be.
What exactly is a Medusa piercing?
This type of piercing was named in the mid-1990s by Kerrick, a hairdresser and model from Toronto, Canada. It has a few alternative names as well: philtrum piercing, cleft piercing, or upbret. A Medusa involves piercing below the nose on the top lip. It is done in the philtrum, the small indent just below your nose. As for jewelry, a labret is typically used in such piercings. For starters, you can use a 14 or 16 gauge labret stud. The piercing is usually done with an extra-long stud so that any swelling can be accommodated. Once the swelling goes down, you can go back to your piercer and ask for a smaller stud.
Why should you get one? Well, easy – because it’s sexy. Any type of lip piercing draws attention to the mouth, so you can easily use a gem to highlight this feature. A lot of people get a Medusa piercing and a lower lip piercing, but that’s in no way a general rule. You should only sign up for what you feel comfortable with.
Is it painful?
We won’t lie – it really can be. Getting a Medusa piercing involves penetrating a part of your face, and that means all layers of skin and tissue will be perforated. If you have a high tolerance to pain, it may not be a big deal. If you’re tolerance is low, however, you might want to take a friend with you when you do the deed. Also, it’s important to note that the discomfort fades once the barbell has been positioned and locked. To better prepare for the experience, watch a few YouTube videos in advance (preferably where the perforation process is shown), to figure out what to expect.
Before the procedure, make sure to brush your teeth well and gargle an antiseptic mouthwash – you don’t want any unwanted bacteria to infect the area. The piercer will clean the outer part with alcohol, so you don’t need to worry about that. You do need to worry about the hygiene of the piercer though. A seasoned and skilled one will wait gloves as an added precaution, in order to prevent probable infection. They will also mark the area where the jewelry will be positioned beforehand, to make sure it will be right in the center. You’ll want your Medusa piercing to be perfectly symmetrical; otherwise it won’t look as perfect as you’d wish.
As for the process, it’s pretty simple. The piercer will hold your upper lip for support, and use a sharp needle to penetrate the area from the inside going out on your philtrum where the mark has been previously made. Then, they will attach the jewelry to the special needle so that it can get through the new hole, and securely lock it.
What about the healing time?
On average, the healing time for a Medusa piercing takes between 6 and 12 weeks. The piercer will be give tips on aftercare, and you want to be diligent in following them to avoid infection and recuperate in a short amount of time. Swelling will come down as the healing process takes place. However, if you’re still experiencing comfort after 8-10 weeks, you should visit a doctor. Once a couple of months have passed, you can return to the piercer to get a stud with a shorter bar.
Caution! In the first week after the piercing, eating and drinking will likely be difficult. During this time, smoking is totally off-limits, and alcohol should be limited to clear drinks. Beer is to be avoided, as yeast can cause problems for your new (and gorgeous) piercing. As a matter of fact, difficulty eating is the main factor that leads many people who go for a Medusa piercing to reconsider over time.
Here’s what a professional, Brandi Reynolds, wrote on Quora: “Now, if you are wanting one, there are more cons than pros, from knowing people that used to have it. Keyword ‘used’ to have it. It’s not only a surface piercing, but an oral piercing, as well. That ranks high in the healing department, and in the convenience department. It makes it difficult to eat certain things, mainly sandwich and things you don’t usually cut up to eat. And since I was in dentistry for 13yrs, I can tell you that any oral piercing can cause gum and/ or tooth problems the longer you have it. Plus many other factors. Our mouths are just not clean, and throw in a hard metal like surgical steel and it’s a recipe for MANY mouth problems… the longer you have it. It’s one that if you must get one you should not keep it for more than 2 years, per MY suggestion. I have had several oral piercings, all on my tongue, and they were fun and cool for a while, then it was just time to let it go.”
This shouldn’t discourage you from getting a Medusa piercing, as long as that’s really what you want. With proper after-care it will heal nicely, and it’s easy to remove it wearing it becomes problematic over time. And even keeping it for only a couple of years is worth it as long as it gives you the confidence needed to become the best version of yourself.
What are others saying?
To help you make a more informed decision, we’ve collected a few posts written online by people who actually got a Medusa piercing, so you can have as much useful info on the subject as possible:
• I finally built up the courage to get it done. The Medusa is a facial piercing and since you can’t directly hide it like the septum, I danced around the idea of getting it for quite some time. Either people on YouTube are wussies or I just have a high pain tolerance, because it was not painful AT ALL. Pain level: Out of 10, it was a 3. I told myself I would stop watching YouTube vids whenever I want to get a new piercing. I love this piercing… A LOT.
• My Medusa was the last of 3 piercings i had done all in one day. I had a feeling it would hurt a bit. I was right. Basically the clamp wasn’t much of a problem (usually I’ve found they hurt worse than the piercing) but the piercing did bring tears to my eyes. The worst part of it all was while he was tightening the bead on the jewelry, I could feel it twisting inside.
• I got my piercing done 9 months ago. I think the actual fear of getting it done was worse than the operation. PS: Just don’t look at the needle and you won’t get wigged out!
• Just got my lip pierced in the middle about a week ago. I thought it hurt about a 7 out of 10. I could definitely feel my body react OK to piercing though, so it started to heal rather quickly. A flap of skin WILL begin to form around the piercings; it is normal. I thought maybe mine was infected but it’s normal.
• Well to start off, I can’t tell you enough how much I love this piercing. I started off piercing my septum (3 times in a row) before discovering that it just was never going to sit right on me. So I went for the Medusa although here people call it a “Jeannie”. Easier than the lower lip and a must have if you already have the lower one. They make a perfect match set. I am a piercer as well as a piercey, and I can’t say enough about this one. The jewelry made it even better. It’s called a fishtail. Solid 16g SS rod with a ball fixed to one side.
• Where I live in Ohio, the Medusa is an uncommon piercing. I decided to go with it to compliment my lips and facial features. It is a very gorgeous and different piercing in my view. I went to my piercer and had it positioned to be in exact alignment with my labret on my lower lip. They are both exactly in the middle of my lips. A lot of people ask me if that was one of the more painful piercings because of the upper web near the gum can be cut through. Mine did not hurt whatsoever. It pinched for a second when the needle was going through but it was nothing at all!
• I wanted this piercing for a long time. And it went out really fine, even better than my lower-lip piercing. It hurt the same as lip so it means it doesn’t really hurt at all. You can feel the needle, of course, but that’s all. I don’t know why I had this piercing done and in fact I don’t think it looks so awesome or anything. I just woke up the other day and wanted to do a piercing so bad so I went and done it.
• I just got my labret piercing about an hour ago… and didn’t hurt at all. When he did it I was like “that’s it? it’s going really well”. Kinda hard to eat but better then when I had my tongue pierced. I suggest to anyone who wants to get it… GO FOR IT!!
All in all, a Medusa piercing is a beautiful way to highlight your facial features. Its main appeal comes from the fact that it’s symmetrical, so it keeps your face in balance, unlike other types of piercings (to the nose, side of the mouth or eyebrow, for instance). Plus, it’s done in a unique location, so it will without a doubt become a standout and eye-grabbing feature of your face. As you can see from all the examples above it can look cute and girly because of the subtle way in which it highlights the lips; but it can also be paired with other piercings for a tougher look. So it’s versatile as well. The healing process may take some time, but we bet it’s worth in the long run. Convinced? Shop your favorite jewelry (you can easily find piercings affordable for any budget, either in jewelry stores or online), and book an appointment with your piercer. You’ll never look back.
Convinced? Shop your favorite jewelry (you can easily find piercings affordable for any budget, either in jewelry stores or online), and book an appointment with your piercer. You’ll never look back.