Philtrum Piercing: Get to Know This Upper Lip Piercing

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Anyone with a facial piercing is considered edgy and cool. The upper lip piercing is a simple piercing located in a conspicuous area. Although there are several other upper lip piercings like the Monroe or Madonna, we’re focussing on the philtrum piercing in this guide. 

It’s an excellent choice for people who love symmetrical piercings, but it’s not without a few risks. In this guide, we discuss getting this piercing done and aftercare tips. We also answer possible questions you might have.                                                                                             

What is the upper lip piercing called? 

upper lip piercing


The upper lip piercing, specifically the philtrum piercing, is also nicknamed the Medusa piercing. This piercing is located above the lip’s cupid bow, at the indented region, and usually aligned with the center of the nose — the septum. 

Getting a philtrum piercing

When getting a philtrum piercing, you should visit a professional piercer so they can get the placement right.

How is the Medusa piercing done?

The Medusa piercing process is fast and straightforward. Here are the steps involved:

  • Mark the spot on the philtrum (piercing area)
  • Use the clamp to hold the upper lips
  • Push the needle through the marked spot
  • Insert the jewelry

The piercer will put in a long bar to give room for swelling. You will need to downsize the jewelry once it’s fully healed. 

How bad does the philtrum piercing hurt?

The philtrum piercing ranks at 6 out of 10 on the pain scale. Some people have described it as their most painful lip piercing. However, the pain level depends on an individual’s tolerance.

If you’re getting another philtrum piercing after the previous one rejected or the jewelry was embedded, it will likely hurt more because of the scar tissue.

Related: Not sure whether to choose between a Medusa or labret piercing? See the pros and cons.

How much does a philtrum piercing cost?

A philtrum piercing usually costs about $40, excluding the jewelry. Like an Ashley piercing, your jewelry will be a labret stud, which should be made of solid gold or implant-grade titanium.

What gauge is used for a Medusa piercing?

Piercers typically use a 14 or 16-gauge needle for a Medusa piercing. See our list of the best Medusa lip rings.

Healing and aftercare

The medusa piercing is one of the simpler piercings to heal. However, since it’s an oral and lip piercing, you must diligently use aftercare practices.

How risky is a Medusa piercing?

The medusa piercing is a low-risk piercing. Like other oral piercings, it poses a risk to your teeth and gum. Depending on the anatomy of your lips, the piercing jewelry may rest on your teeth or gum, causing them to erode over time. It’s difficult to reverse the damage done to the gum or teeth. 

💡 Take Note: You must get a professional piercer to do your piercing so they can get the placement right.

How long does a philtrum piercing take to heal?

The philtrum piercing usually takes two to four months to heal. The healing process is easy but can be prolonged by infections or trauma to the piercing site.

How swollen do your lips get after a Medusa piercing?

The swelling after a Medusa piercing is usually noticeable. Some people say it resembles the swelling from a bee sting or a mild allergic reaction. If you have large lips, it may not be as noticeable as with someone with smaller lips. A cold compress and over-the-counter NSAIDs can help reduce the swelling.

When can I change my philtrum piercing?

You can change your philtrum piercing jewelry when the site is completely healed, usually in two to four months. If you change it too early, you risk it closing up or causing irritation, slowing the healing process. 

Can you wax with a Medusa piercing?

Yes, you can get an upper lip wax with a Medusa piercing. Waxing is only advisable when your piercing is fully healed. Some wax technicians may ask you to remove your jewelry, while others may work around it and use tweezers to remove the hairs closer to your piercing. 

What can I eat immediately after a philtrum piercing?

You can eat most meals except dairy, spicy and hot food for at least two weeks. Lactic acid bacteria in dairy products may cause a yeast infection, while cold food and beverages are more soothing. 

You should also avoid clumpy food like oatmeal and mashed potato, which can stick to your piercing site and jewelry. Whatever food you choose, eat food in small bites to prevent particles from touching your new piercing.

What does an infected Medusa piercing look like?

An infected piercing gets swollen for an extended period with a reddish or discolored look. This swelling shouldn’t be mistaken for the initial post-piercing swelling. Other signs and symptoms of an infected medusa piercing include: 

  • Fever
  • Worsening pain
  • Excessive bleeding
  • White, yellow, or green pus
  • Piercing area feels warm or hot to touch 

If your piercing gets infected, clean the area three times daily with a saline solution and follow other aftercare practices. The infection should clear off in a few days. If there’s no improvement after a couple of days or the symptoms worsen, seek medical attention immediately. 

What is the fastest way to heal a medusa piercing?

You can heal a medusa piercing fast by following proper aftercare practices, including the following:

  • Clean the external piercing site twice daily with saline spray.
  • Gargle with alcohol-free mouthwash after every meal. 
  • Drink lots of water to eliminate food debris that may cling to the piercing site. 
  • Use a new toothbrush after your piercing.
  • Keep your hands off it. 
  • Keep potentially irritating skincare products or makeup away from the surface of the piercing. 

Frequently asked questions

Here are answers to more questions you may have about the medusa piercing.

Does a Medusa piercing make your lip bigger?

Your lips will get swollen immediately after getting a Medusa piercing, but the swelling will reduce after a few days. Eventually, your lips will return to their normal size. 

Why is my Medusa piercing sinking into my lip?

Your Medusa piercing may be going through a normal process called nesting, common with lip piercings. This occurs when the tissue behind your jewelry forms a pocket-like shape to prevent your jewelry from hurting your gum and teeth. 

However, it becomes problematic when more than half of your piercing jewelry sinks into your lips and gets stuck there due to the following:

  • Wrong bar length
  • Bad piercing angle
  • Constant irritation and infection at the piercing site 

It’s best to visit your piercer to remove the embedded jewelry.

Can your body reject a Medusa piercing?

Your body can reject a Medusa piercing due to your immune system, improper jewelry, the wrong piercing angle, or constant irritation and trauma to the piercing site.

Do philtrum piercings damage your teeth?

A philtrum piercing can damage your teeth. Teeth and gum erosion are typical risks with oral piercings. If this occurs, you will need to remove the piercing jewelry. 

Get this bold upper lip piercing

The upper lip piercing is one that almost anyone can get. The pain level is relatively average, and the healing process is straightforward.

However, since it’s a facial piercing that’s hard to hide, you must ensure it’s acceptable at your workplace. Also, if you have oral issues like sensitive gums or braces, you may need to check with your dentist first.

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