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A snake bites piercing is a double lip piercing that sits near the outer corners of the lower lip’s edge. As the name suggests, the placement of the piercing resembles a snake bite.

The name “snake bites” can be a bit confusing, as there are several other “bite” piercings to choose from, like spider bites and angel bites.

To make things a little clearer, refer to them as “paired lower lip piercings” if you decide to go for it.

Rings and labret studs are your jewelry options for snake bites.

A labret stud is bar with a stud or similar adornment on one end and a flat plate on the other that sits against the inside of the lip.

Rings are just that: rings that wrap around the lip.

Material is key when it comes to piercings. And, for mouth piercings where the jewelry will potentially make contact with your teeth and gums, it’s especially important.

For initial oral piercings, the Association of Professional Piercers (APP) recommends jewelry made from implant-grade metals or 14-karat or higher gold.

Choose jewelry made from:

  • Surgical steel. Surgical steel jewelry contains other alloys, including nickel. But it generally has a low release, making it safe for most people.
  • Titanium. Implant-grade titanium is nickel-free and safe for everyone. It costs more than stainless steel, but it’s a better option if you’re sensitive to other metals.
  • Niobium. This affordable and lightweight metal is similar to titanium — but without the implant-grade designation.
  • 14-karat or higher gold. If you’re going for gold, make sure it’s the real deal and not gold-plated or filled. Also watch out for gold vermeil or overlay, which contains other alloys under a thin gold layer that can chip or wear off.

The cost can vary significantly depending on factors, like location, jewelry choice, and the piercing professional’s experience level.

Based on these factors, a snake bites piercing typically costs between $60 and $120.

Don’t forget to factor in a tip when pricing out your piercing. A 20 percent tip is customary if you’re happy with the service.

Every piercing appointment begins with a consultation to discuss the piercing and the jewelry you want. You’ll also be asked to fill out some paperwork, including a waiver.

Once that’s done, here are the next steps:

  1. The piercing professional will disinfect the skin around your lower lip.
  2. You’ll rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash to get rid of any bacteria.
  3. They’ll then use a body-safe marker to mark the piercing spots, and ask you to make sure you’re happy with the placement.
  4. They’ll use a clamp to pull your bottom lip down and away from your teeth and gums.
  5. Next, they’ll push a needle through the inside of your lip. Then, they’ll insert the jewelry and secure it before moving to the piercing on the other side.
  6. Your piercing professional will clean the area again.
  7. You’ll be given aftercare instructions to follow.

For sure. But everyone’s different, so it’s hard to say just how much.

Snake bites piercings seem intense, but they aren’t typically considered as painful as other lip piercings, especially those that go through the actual lip.

People who’ve had it done rate the pain around 3–5 on a pain scale with 10 being the highest. Many find the clamping more uncomfortable than the actual piercing.

Some risk is par for the course any time you puncture tissue.

However, proper aftercare and having an experienced piercing professional can significantly minimize risk.

Here are some possible complications and side effects to watch for:

  • Infection. Bacteria that gets in while eating, touching your mouth, kissing, or giving oral sex can lead to an infection. If the piercing professional uses unclean equipment, it’s possible to contract a bloodborne infection, like tetanus or HIV.
  • Swelling. Swelling in the first few days is normal, and some people swell more than others. Applying ice and sleeping with your head elevated should help.
  • Tooth or gum damage. When you talk or chew, the jewelry rubs against the surface of your gums and teeth. This can irritate your gums and damage tooth enamel.
  • Trauma or tearing. It’s easy to accidentally snag lip jewelry when doing everyday things like putting on a sweater, styling long hair, or smooching.
  • Nerve disruption. The risk is really low, but one study linked facial piercings to nerve disruption that resulted in chronic back pain and eye misalignment for four of the study subjects.

Healing typically takes 2–3 months. This largely depends on how closely you follow your aftercare instructions.

Other factors impact healing time, too, like your overall health and your piercing professional’s skill level.

Proper aftercare plays a crucial role in your healing process. It also helps reduce the risk of complications.

While healing, do:

  • wash your hands before cleaning or handling your piercing
  • rinse your mouth with saline solution when you wake up, eat, and get ready for bed.
  • rinse or spray the outside of your piercings with saline solution
  • practice good oral hygiene with regular brushing and flossing
  • use a new, soft-bristled toothbrush, and store it away from other toothbrushes
  • use mild soap to gently wash the area around the piercing
  • rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of soap
  • gently pat the area dry with clean paper towels (Cloth towels can harbor bacteria or snag the jewelry.)
  • be careful when you eat (Avoid hard, crunchy, or spicy foods, as well as hot foods and drinks.)
  • keep swelling down by sleeping with your head elevated, applying a cold compress, and letting ice chips dissolve in your mouth

While healing, don’t:

  • touch your piercing with unwashed hands
  • play with your jewelry
  • talk too much when your piercing’s new (It can damage tissue and cause scarring.)
  • chew on gum or objects that can harbor bacteria, like your fingernails or pencils
  • engage in any oral sexual contact, including kissing, even with a long-term partner
  • share utensils or dishes with others
  • use alcohol, including mouthwash that contains alcohol
  • smoke (It can slow healing and up your risk for complications.)
  • submerge your piercing in pools, hot tubs, or open water
  • take your piercing out before it’s fully healed

For the first 5 days or so, swelling, light bleeding, and tenderness is normal. As well, there may be some yellowish discharge from the piercing sites.

Anything beyond that could be a sign of a problem, like an infection.

See your piercing professional or a healthcare professional if you notice any of these:

  • severe redness, pain, or swelling
  • a large amount of smelly discharge that’s thick, green, yellow, or gray
  • rash or blisters around the site
  • skin that’s warm to the touch
  • redness spreading out from the site
  • gum or tooth issues, like bleeding or erosion
  • fever, chills, vomiting, or confusion

Wait until the piercing’s completely healed to change your jewelry.

Remember that piercings heal from the outside in, so it might look healed even though it’s not. If you’re not sure, check with your piercing professional and have them do it for you.

You can change it yourself once it’s healed. But, if it’s stubborn and hard to remove, have a professional do it instead.

Keep your jewelry in until the piercing’s fully healed — even if you hate it.

After that, you can remove the jewelry. But keep the area clean while waiting for it to close.

You can expect a tiny scar over each piercing site once the tissue grows in.

Ready to get pierced? Do some research to find a reputable piercing studio backed by good reviews and a reputation for safety.

You can hit up friends or family for referrals or find a local piercing professional through APP.

Before committing, visit the studio in person to:

  • confirm they have a permit and license to operate
  • ask about their sterilization process
  • see credentials and a portfolio of clients’ healed piercings
  • check the quality of the jewelry they stock

Snake bites piercings, or piercings on either side under your lower lip, are a popular type of piercing for body jewelry enthusiasts.

They’re generally safe as long as you follow aftercare instructions. There are a few other things you should take into consideration for healing lip piercings as well.

However, as with all piercings, they’re not totally without risk. If you notice any signs of an infection, call your piercing professional or a healthcare professional immediately.

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.