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A Medusa piercing sits just below the nose and above the lip.

It requires a little extra healing time and, TBH, it tends to have a bit more of an ouch factor than some other piercings. This could explain why you tend to see them on seasoned piercing aficionados.

Intrigued? To get the lowdown, we reached out to DaVo, piercer and owner of Axiom Body Piercing and head creator of Body Piercing & Tattooing on YouTube.

It’s a piercing that sits in the philtrum, also called the Cupid’s bow. It’s the little divot just above the lip.

In the industry, this type of piercing is called a philtrum piercing.

Yes. But everyone’s pain tolerance is different, so just how much is hard to say.

The area around your philtrum is packed with nerve endings, so it’s bound to hurt more than, say, your earlobes. Again, everyone’s different, so it might not be that bad for you.

Your appointment begins with a consultation with the piercing professional who’ll cover healing, jewelry, and the risks (more on those coming up).

They’ll also evaluate your anatomy, answer your questions and concerns, and ask about any metal allergies you may have before sizing and selecting the jewelry.

FYI: A Medusa piercing is typically done with a labret stud made from implant-grade titanium with a 14 gauge or 16 gauge post.

The jewelry should be longer to accommodate swelling during the healing phase. Once you’re fully healed, you’ll need to go back to swap it out for a smaller piece.

You’ll be given a waiver to fill out that asks about any allergies you may have to the products that they use, which should be listed on the waiver. It’ll also ask about any preexisting medical conditions, medications, and if you’re under the influence of any drugs or alcohol.

Here’s a rundown of the next steps:

  1. The piercing professional should put on gloves before setting out the tools they’ll use and your jewelry. Any tools used should be removed from their sterilized pouches in front of you.
  2. They’ll clean and disinfect the piercing area with a surgical scrub, and you’ll rinse your mouth with an alcohol-free mouthwash.
  3. They’ll then evaluate your anatomy for the best placement and mark the location, making sure it’s centered on the outside and lines up on the inside, over or under the gum line.
  4. The piercing professional will clamp the tissue with forceps to gently move it away from the rest of the mouth.
  5. Next, they’ll insert a needle from the outside through to the inside. They’ll remove the forceps and push the needle out with a taper pin or guide pin.
  6. They’ll then place or thread a pin into the jewelry on the inside of the mouth and push the jewelry into the piercing.
  7. They’ll remove the pin and grip the post with the hemostats to either screw on the end or push it into place.
  8. To finish, they’ll apply saline and pressure to stop any bleeding and to clean up the area.
  9. You’ll rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash again.
  10. Your piercing professional will give you written aftercare instructions to take home, and they’ll go over them with you.

A Medusa piercing can take from 8 to 12 weeks to heal. How well you take care of yourself and your piercing can affect how well and how fast you heal.

During the healing process, it’s important to follow the aftercare your piercing professional gave you.

Here are some ways to care for your piercing:

Here are some things to not do while your piercing is healing:

  • Don’t touch or spin your jewelry.
  • Avoid chewing on gum or anything that can harbor bacteria or cause trauma, like fingernails.
  • Don’t share utensils or cups with others.
  • Don’t engage in any oral sexual activity, including kissing or oral sex.

When asked about additional measures that can help with healing, DaVo recommends a change in diet to help reduce swelling, such as sticking with soft foods and avoiding salty, spicy, or very hot foods.

DaVo also recommends not drinking alcohol, smoking, vaping, and doing anything that may agitate the piercing for the first 3 to 5 days.

“Also, I suggest eating two to three cartons of yogurt and rinsing a couple of times a day with an alcohol-free mouthwash and warm water and sea salt,” DaVo says.

As your swelling goes down, your jewelry might feel too long and start to be a problem.

“If the longer jewelry is creating an issue, it should be downsized to a shorter labret stud. I suggest that you have your piercer change it for you,” DaVo says. “Either way, once the piercing is healed, shorter jewelry needs to be put in to reduce the risks of damage to gums, teeth, and bones.”

There’s always some risk with a piercing, so it’s important to know what’s normal and what might be a sign of a problem.

“Understand that, as a reaction to the trauma of the piercing itself, for the first 3 to 5 days it is normal to see redness, discoloration, swelling, heat, tenderness to the touch, and slight bleeding,” DaVo says.

Some discharge that hardens and collects on the jewelry around the piercing hole is also normal. You might also notice a white ring of tissue form around the piercing.

Don’t be alarmed if you see some “yellowish strings that look like snot coming from the inside hole,” which DaVo says is normal discharge.

He recommends seeing a doctor if you notice two or more of the following:

  • redness
  • shooting and traveling pain
  • discoloration
  • pus
  • fever

“If you start to notice sensitivity in your gums, teeth, or mouth where the jewelry is in contact, replace the jewelry with shorter jewelry or remove it and abandon the piercing,” DaVo says.

If you decide to go ahead with a Medusa piercing, having a skilled and reputable piercing professional is key.

Combine that with a little extra diligence when it comes to aftercare, and you can avoid infection and keep your philtrum bling for the long haul.

Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a Canada-based freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.