Getting a lip piercing is a big decision, because there are a lot of styles to consider, along with social implications. Before embarking on a lip piercing, you should make sure that this piercing is for you, and you should be prepared to commit to having the piercing for at least three months, as the piercing needs to be fully healed before it can be removed (if you decide to do so).
By doing your research ahead of time and picking out a good piercer, you will be much more likely to get a piercing you are happy with.
Make sure a lip piercing is for you. Any type of facial piercing is going to attract attention, and some of that attention will be negative. Are you prepared to deal with the social consequences of a lip piercing? Make sure your employers are comfortable with lip piercings, and if you think you are going to be changing jobs soon, you may want to hold off, as facial piercings can make employment in some fields a challenge.
You should also be aware that oral piercings can become problematic if they get infected. While oral piercings tend to heal more quickly, because the mouth itself heals more quickly than other parts of the body, you need to be very scrupulous about caring for the piercing for at least two weeks, and you need to commit to long term care. Poorly placed oral piercings can also cause dental problems, which is something to think about.
Decide what style of piercing you want. There are a number of different styles of lip piercing to consider. You can place the piercing on the bottom or top lip, off to one side or in the middle of your lip, or lower down on your chin for a labret piercing. If you decide on an off-side lip piercing, think about what side of your mouth you want the piercing to be on, and consider whether or not you want a matching piercing on the other side for symmetry. If you go for multiple piercings, you should consider placement options, which can range from putting two piercings very close together on one side of the lip to getting four piercings--two in the lower lip and two in the upper lip.
If you aren't sure about what kind of lip piercing you want, you might want to do some research for visual examples. Piercing magazines often feature interesting lip piercings, and there are also online galleries that have a range of piercings on display.
Decide on a piercer or studio. Take the time to do your homework, as the skill of a piercer will make a difference in the outcome of your piercing. Look for a studio that is clean and friendly, with an informative and helpful staff. Try to get a portfolio of the piercer's work or ask for recommendations from friends with piercings.
When you meet with a piercer, talk to him or her about your vision, and ask about placement recommendations. Not all piercings work with all bodies, so be aware that the piercer may recommend against a particular placement.
Once you feel comfortable with your piercer, make an appointment; some studios offer same-day appointments, and in other cases, you may be asked to wait. The advantage of making an appointment is that you will get the piercer you want, and you have time to prepare.
Get your new piercing. Before your appointment, eat a light meal to ensure that you will not feel faint. Bring identification and money to the piercing studio, and arrive a few minutes early to fill out paperwork and select jewelry for the piercing. Be aware that the jewelry used for piercing is a little larger than standard jewelry; it can be changed after the initial healing period is over, either by your piercer or by yourself, if you are comfortable with handling piercing jewelry.
The piercer should start your appointment by disinfecting the area around your mouth and asking you to use mouthwash before donning gloves and using a marking pen to mark the site of the piercing. Don't be afraid to ask the piercer to move the mark if you aren't quite happy, especially if you are getting two piercings and you want them to be symmetrical. It pays to take time at this stage.
Once you and the piercer are happy with the marking, he or she will tuck a dental bib around your neck, clamp your lip, and then push the needle through the mark, threading the jewelry in after the needle. The piercing process will pinch, but it will be over in a few moments; breathe deeply and think about what the piercing means to you as the piercer works to distract yourself.
Once the piercing is in, the jewelry will be closed, and the piercer should go over aftercare instructions with you before taking payment. Don't be afraid to ask questions, and make sure to get the studio's number, which is often printed on the aftercare sheet, in case you have questions later.
Taking care of your lip piercing. Good aftercare, especially in the first few weeks, will keep your piercing happy, healthy, and looking good. Aftercare directions vary, depending on the piercer's experience and personal preference, but here are some things that are commonly included in aftercare directions for oral piercings:
- No spicy or extremely hot food for several days.
- No contact with other people's bodily fluids, and this includes kissing, for one week.
- Brush your teeth after eating, and use antibacterial mouthwash frequently for the first two weeks.
- Wash the piercing with a mild antibacterial soap and warm water several times a day for two to three weeks.
- Soak your piercing in a sea salt soak three to five times a day to speed healing for two weeks.
- Handle your piercing as little as possible, but make sure to rotate it fully during cleaning.
- In the long term, take good care of your teeth, and keep an eye on your piercing to check for migration or contact with the teeth and gums.
It's normal for your lip to be swollen and red for a few days after you get a lip piercing, and you should see a little bit of discharge around the piercing. If the site becomes extremely painful, or the discharge turns thick, chunky, and yellowish to green, it is a sign of infection. You should contact your piercer and seek medical attention, but do not remove the piercing. The piercing acts as a natural drainage stent that will help the infection drain as it heals, and if you take it out, the infection may fester in your lip, causing pain and slow healing times.
After your thorough research and diligent attention to aftercare, your lip piercing should be in good shape, and in the spot you wanted it to be. Enjoy your new lip piercing!