Labret piercings have become hugely popular over the past few years, and they make a great statement piece. But before you go ahead and get one, you should know what you’re in for.
A labret piercing, also known as a lip piercing, passes through the bottom lip and is not attached to it. Many people believe that a labret is located on the outer rim of the lip itself, but this is not true.
Labret Piercing Options
People often get their labret piercings in the center of their bottom lip, but there are many variations of this piercing that are also popular:
- Vertical Labret Piercing - A vertical labret piercing is different from a standard labret in that the barbell does not go through the lip tissue, but instead goes directly through the lip and is secured by a small ball.
- Horizontal Labret Piercing - A horizontal labret piercing has two beads attached to a curved barbell that goes through the lower lip horizontally, making the beads sit next to each other (normally about one-two centimeters apart).
- Side Labret Piercing - The side labret piercing is a variation of the standard labret piercing, except it’s placed to either the far left or far right of the mouth instead of toward the center.
- Double Labret / Dolphin Bite Piercing - A double labret, also known as a dolphin bite is when two standard labrets are placed very closely next to each other underneath the lower lip. The piercings can even sit on top of each other vertically.
- Snake Bites - A snake bite piercing involves the placing of two labret studs, one on either side of the lower lip.
- Viper Bites / Spider Bites - A Spider & Viper Bite Piercing is a lip piercing in which the piercings are placed on only one side of the mouth, so it’s basically half of a snake bite piercing.
- Lowbret - A lowbret piercing extends to the area below the lower lip, usually reaching as far as possible until there is no more “grab-able” skin. It can be matched with other piercings such as the Medusa, Monroe, and Smiley piercings.
What to Expect During a Labret Piercing?
To start the procedure, a piercer will first clean and disinfect the lower lip area. Then he or she will give you a swig of mouthwash to kill any harmful germs in your mouth.
Next, the piercer will mark entry and exit points on the inside and outside of your mouth to ensure that you will get the piercing where you want it.
Once that is done, the piercer will clamp your lower lip so that the area is more stable and visible, and then gently but quickly pass a hollow needle through the skin.
Finally, you’ll have the jewelry/stud inserted into your piercing, and fastened in place by screwing on the bead section – and you’re good to go!
Pain of Labret Piercing
It won’t hurt too much during the piercing process, but you might feel some pain with a horizontal or vertical labret because of the sensitive lip tissue being involved rather than just skin.
Remember that the feeling will be over in a matter of seconds, and it generally feels like a quick pinch.
It should be noted that some pain and discomfort will likely occur after the piercing process is complete.
Your body has a natural reaction when you get a piercing that usually causes at least some amount of bruising and swelling.
The pain can be throbbing for the first day or so, followed by tenderness when the area is touched.
After your procedure, there may be slight bleeding. This is common and to be expected. Aspirin or other blood-thinning medications taken before or after the procedure can prolong bleeding.
How Much Are Labret Piercings?
A labret piercing may cost between $40-$65. The cost can vary widely, depending on several factors, including the popularity/demand of the piercer, the experience of the piercer, the location (country/city) of the shop and the type of jewelry chosen for the piercing.
How To Prepare For A Labret Piercing
Before your appointment, it’s important to ensure you maintain a good oral hygiene regimen:
- Brushing your teeth, gumline and tongue at least twice a day and after eating sugary foods/snacks helps to keep the bacteria numbers in the mouth low, which should help to boost healing in the area once your piercing has been done.
- Flossing is important because it helps remove food from between your teeth. Bacteria use the small bits of food as food, and by removing one of the food sources you’re helping to keep bacteria numbers down.
- After you brush and floss, swish an antibacterial mouthwash around your mouth to kill any bacteria that may have survived. Mouthwash can reach areas your toothbrush and floss cannot.
Cleaning & Aftercare
To ensure that your body piercing heals properly, there are a few things you can do to minimize the risk of complications, such as infections and scarring.
Don't mess with touching it at all times.
It's very important to keep your hands off your new piercing until it heals. Otherwise, you risk introducing bacteria into the piercing that could lead to an infection.
Don't play with your piercing by pushing/pulling it with your fingers, or moving it around with your tongue. This can interfere with the healing process, lengthen healing times and even cause additional damage to the area.
Make sure to clean the outer-lip area.
Here is a quick guide to cleaning your new piercing:
- For a new lip piercing, using a lukewarm saline or salt solution with a cotton ball or Q-tip can help to clean and reduce swelling. However, if the area is swollen, using a cooler/chilled solution may be more effective.
- Be sure to clean the area morning and night so that it's free of germs, and any time you think it may have come in contact with germs (like touching it with a dirty hand).
- When you're done cleaning, be sure to pat the area with a clean paper towel until no longer wet.
- Don't use a normal, pre-used towel. It's just not hygienic.
- Finally, try to avoid getting makeup, lotion, ointment or cream on the area while performing your daily facial care routine. These products can irritate the area while it’s healing.
- When it comes to piercing aftercare, it's best to use a specialized product that includes ingredients proven to promote healing.
- If you’re looking for a good aftercare product, the Neilmed Piercing Aftercare - Fine Mist is the one to get. It has no preservative and free of alcohol and additives, which means it will work well on all skin types including sensitive skin.
- The solution comes in a generously-sized mist-spraying bottle for easy application, and it helps decrease healing times and eliminate any lingering pain or soreness when used from the very start of the healing process.
Keep on brushing your teeth.
The area directly behind your labret piercing can become quite swollen and painful for a few days after you get it done. But don't let that stop you from brushing your teeth.
Your piercer may recommend a soft-bristled toothbrush and a mild unflavored toothpaste to help reduce irritation and swelling at the site of your piercing.
Try using a salt solution mouthwash.
Some commercial mouthwash products contain alcohol or ingredients that can irritate your mouth. To remedy this, wash your mouth with a warm sea salt solution (not table salt) at least twice a day and after meals.
It also helps to remove any trapped food particles which may have become lodged around the site of the piercing.
Keep the original stud in
While your labret is healing, you should make sure the original jewelry stays in without changing it or taking it out.
It's best to wait until your piercing is fully healed before you remove the jewelry. Removing the jewelry too soon can cause irritation and allow bacteria into the hole, potentially causing an infection. Accidentally poking the flesh with the stud might make it more painful or delay healing times.
Consider avoiding smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating spicy foods.
It's best not to smoke while your labret is healing. All those chemicals in cigarettes are really bad for open wounds and can cause infection that will delay healing, as well as serious problems years down the road.
Alcohol should be avoided when cleaning a wound because it dries out the skin and can sting.
The same goes for spicy food, which can cause a burning sensation if it comes into contact with your fresh piercing. This can result in redness, rashes, and itching.
Eat in Moderation
Getting a lip piercing is an adjustment, and you'll want to be careful about what you eat while the piercing is healing.
When you are eating, be sure to chew your food very slowly. If you accidentally bite down on a mouthpiece, the surrounding skin could tear, which would be painful and not fun at all.
Don't use tanning lotion.
Like makeup and other facial products, tanning lotions, ointments, and creams can contain quite strong chemicals. As a result, they can irritate the skin while it is healing. You should refrain from applying sun protection products to the area while it is healing.
When you're spending prolonged periods of time outside, it's a good idea to protect the lower half of your face from the sun (sunburn on a fresh piercing is no fun and can leave permanent scars).
What is the healing time for a labret piercing?
After a labret piercing is done, it takes approximately six to ten weeks to heal. However, the tissue within the tunnel of the piercing will continue to repair itself for up to nine months as the whole inner wall toughens and regenerates.
Depending on how well you care for your new piercing, it may take from several weeks to several months for a lip piercing to heal.
Labret Piercing Infections: What You Need to Know
While rare, lip piercing infections do occur and can be treated effectively if you act quickly. However, infections can also cause permanent damage if you don’t start treatment right away.
To avoid infection, you should keep your new piercing clean and check for signs of any adverse reactions around the area. If necessary, see your piercer or doctor for further advice.
Symptoms of a common infection may include:
- Redness that lasts for longer than a few days or begins to get worse.
- Swelling that doesn’t go away or gets worse can cause trouble with speaking, chewing and swallowing.
- Severe pain (mild to moderate pain can be expected after a lip piercing).
- If you notice any pus leakage, excessive bleeding or crusty scabbing around your piercing, see a doctor.
- Extreme itching around the piercing site.
Other risks to keep in mind include…
Labret piercings can be a fun way to express yourself, but it is important to remember that all forms of body modification carry some risk. Although the risks are generally uncommon, they can occur (mainly due to the location of the piercing).
Occasionally, the disc behind the mouth can rub against your bottom front teeth. This isn't a problem if it happens just once in a while, but if rubbing occurs often and over a long period of time (many months to years), it can damage the tooth enamel. The erosion can eventually lead to decay if bacteria works its way into the damaged areas
Tooth drift is common in people who wear their labret piercings for long periods of time without taking much time to remove the jewelry.
The constant pressure of the disk behind the bottom lip area pushing against (or between) the front teeth, sometimes results in a slight misalignment of the bottom front teeth.
In a few rare cases, tooth drift occurs in conjunction with wearing a lip ring. If it does occur, you will likely need braces to realign the affected teeth.
When you get your labret pierced, make sure that it is placed low enough on your bottom lip so that it doesn't rub against the gum.
If you neglect your teeth for too long, gum disease can cause the roots to become exposed.
Roots exposed to the elements are often painful, and they increase the chances of tooth decay.
Over time, the disk can wear down to the jawbone and cause more serious complications such as tooth loosening.
Because of this, you should schedule regular dental check-ups and pay close attention to any changes in your mouth.
Sometimes, if the piercing is done by an inexperienced piercer and jewelry that is too small is inserted, the jewelry may embed itself in your flesh.
Embedding occurs when the disk or bead tightens against the lip, and in some cases it can even disappear within the lip itself.
In most cases, lip piercings will swell a little bit initially. But sometimes swelling can be more severe, causing the lip to grow in size and press against each component of the piercing.
It is important for the piercer to use jewelry that is slightly larger than the intended size, to ensure that swelling or other changes don't cause the piercing to constrict.
If your new piercing becomes embedded, you should go back to the piercer to get the jewelry changed.
While some swelling or soreness may occur around your lip area when you get a piercing, any damage done should be temporary.
Piercings with Labret Jewelry
As with all piercings, you can choose from a variety of studs and jewelry in different shapes and sizes.
Labret piercings come in many shapes and sizes, from balls to spikes to chains. You can choose from a variety of styles to make your piercing uniquely yours.
When looking for labret jewelry, you'll likely find items in a variety of sizes. Choose a size according to how you want to wear your piercing; most people find that 16-gauge jewelry is a good fit for this area.
If you have any questions about jewelry sizes, we recommend consulting with a piercer in person.
Lip piercings can add a bold statement to your style and look great when matched with the right piece of jewelry.
The labret piercing is a beautiful way to express yourself. As long as you care for your piercing and avoid the risks mentioned above, you should have a lovely piece of facial art for years to come.