A Handy Guide to Medusa Piercings

Updated 05/15/19
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Facial piercings are a striking form of body art. If you're going to commit to one, you also need to be ready to embrace the process—not just working up the nerve to get pierced, but also being disciplined in the aftercare. The medusa piercing is particularly delicate. Here's what you need to know.

What Is a Medusa Piercing?

You know where your cupid's bow is? It's that dainty curve at the center of the top edge of your lip (a sweet spot for highlighter). Right above that is the indented part of your upper lip, called the philtrum; this is where a medusa piercing goes. The jewelry is typically a 16- or 14-gauge surgical steel flatback barbell.

What to Expect When You Get Pierced

First of all, be extremely vigilant about seeking out a reputable piercing shop and an experienced professional piercer. Your face, mouth, teeth, and gums depend on it. Ask friends for recommendations if possible. Read reviews. Do the work.

Once you're ready to go, this is what usually happens. Wearing gloves, the piercer cleans the area with alcohol. They usually give you an antiseptic oral rinse to swish inside your mouth as well. Then they mark the spot with a pen. Make sure it's centered to your liking. While holding your upper lip with a clamp, the piercer carefully pierces the spot with a thin hollow needle. Then they insert the jewelry. This is a longer barbell than what you'll end up with after healing since the piercer needs to account for any swelling that usually occurs.

 Et voila. You're pierced.

Million-dollar question: Does a medusa piercing hurt? Unless you have a very high pain threshold, most likely, it will hurt for a few seconds. Depends on your tolerance exactly how much.

Medusa Piercing Aftercare 

Since a medusa is both a lip piercing and an oral piercing, it requires a bit of special care. Here's how to clean it:

  1. Always wash your hands before cleaning your piercing.
  2. If there's any crust around the piercing, soak a cotton swab in warm water, and gently dab it off.
  3. Apply the cleaning solution as instructed by your piercer.
  4. If your piercer recommends it, you may want to swish alcohol-free mouthwash or saline solution to cleanse from inside your mouth.

Healing Time

You'll probably experience some swelling, but it should subside within a few days. As long as you take good care of the piercing, the average healing time is about six to 12 weeks. At the six-month mark, you can usually go back to the shop to downsize your jewelry. It can take from two to six months for the internal tissue to heal completely, so continue being as gentle as possible with the piercing.

Tips for Optimal Healing

To make sure your piercing heals as scheduled, follow some best practices:

  • Be mindful of your piercing while eating and drinking.
  • Swish alcohol-free mouthwash or saline solution after eating.
  • Be careful not to get any of your skincare products too close to the piercing.
  • Skip the cupid's bow highlighter for a while.
  • Avoid smoking while you're healing.
  • Try to avoid alcohol during healing time as well, since it can dry out the piercing. Occasionally, clear alcohol and wine are OK, but the yeast in beer really irritates these piercings, so it's best to steer clear.

Defer to your piercer's recommendations. Keep communicating with them if you experience any issues. And if there are any signs of infection or serious problems, go to a medical professional immediately.

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