Swollen Lip Piercings

  • Written By Dan Hunter on December 21, 2019
    Last Updated: March 17, 2022

A piercing on your lip isn’t easily missed when meeting with anyone. You’ll continuously feel it as you move your mouth to talk, eat, drink, and breathe. This constant movement will increase the longevity of swelling for your piercing. Taking care of this highly visible piercing should be at the forefront of your mind when deciding to get pierced.

Swelling around a lip piercing: 

  • Is a normal part of the healing process
  • Can be reduced by sucking on ice, eating cold foods, and drinking cold drinks
  • Might be a sign of infection if it persists past the first few days

Swelling Is Normal for a New Piercing

Generally, if you get pierced by a professional, it’s pretty safe. You may still experience swelling, pain, slow healing, or bleeding.

Your body is adjusting to a puncture wound, and a foreign object shoved through that puncture. This action displaces cells and crowds them into one another around the piercing. Your body needs some time to adjust to this foreign invasion and shift cells so that they can accommodate the change. Once this happens, the swelling goes down. 

Without complications, lip piercings heal within six to eight weeks, but can also take as long as six months. 

Jewelry for Lip Piercings 

Depending on your mood, style, and aesthetic that you’re going for, you can pick different types of jewelry for your lip. As an example, studs tend to heal faster, so the quicker healing time means less time with a swollen lip. For that reason, many piercers will start you off with a stud. 

However, you can change to a hoop or ring. If you go this route, you need to be mindful of accidentally pulling on the jewelry. Scarring and infections can result from a tear or accidental trauma. If you cause trauma, you’ll increase the duration of your swelling or cause swelling to reoccur. 

Especially for Monroe, labret, and medusa piercings, you may choose an anchor, which is also referred to as a dermal piercing. A dermal piercing is useful in these areas because of its construction. 

On the inside of your lip, against your gums, there’s a flat surface, not a post. This helps reduce complications from friction against gums and teeth. Too much friction and irritation will delay healing and could cause infection, which would likely cause more swelling. 

Causes of Abnormal Swelling

If your lip piercing is increasingly swelling after the first few days of healing, you may have an infection. You may also be facing an allergic reaction to the metal in the piercing. 

Even though about 20% of people pierced report that they’ve experienced an infection, this is usually a localized infection. That means that the infection wasn’t severe and presented as redness, swelling, or some crust around the jewelry itself. 

You can tell if you have an infection because swelling will normally be accompanied by fever, tenderness, or pain. 

If you’re swelling without these additional symptoms, try reducing the swelling by sucking on ice, eating cold foods, drinking cold beverages, and taking ibuprofen. If the swelling interferes with your ability to talk, eat, or breathe, you need to seek medical attention right away. 

Preventing Lip Piercing Complications

Before you get a lip piercing, you should ask yourself these questions to get ahead of any complications that lead to swelling, or worse:

  1. Are you getting the piercing from a trained and licensed professional?
  2. Is your piercer taking down your medical history and asking questions to gauge any potential problems you may have?
  3. Does the piercing parlor have appropriate, sterile, and hypo-allergenic materials to reduce risks?
  4. Have you gotten clear written and/or oral instructions on aftercare?

Trained and Licensed Professional

Getting a piercing from anyone except a trained professional is a mistake. You need a sterile environment to prevent complications. A professional also knows how to pierce without causing undue trauma to the area. Traumatizing piercings can lead to very detrimental healing, scarring, excessive swelling, and infection.

A trained piercer will also be able to properly advise you on aftercare, as well as be a resource when and if you have questions during the healing process.

Medical History and Gauging Potential Problems

A high-quality piercing professional will try to prevent any possible complications. This is made easier by gaining information before they pierce you. For example, if you have a current infection or illness, getting a piercing isn’t the best idea. A lowered immune system compromises the health of a piercing and may lead to worse swelling and increased likelihood of infection. 

Appropriate, Sterile, and Hypo-Allergenic Materials

A clean work environment gives you a clue to standards in that business. This can help you create expectations around hygiene and responsibility to the client. Sterile conditions will reduce the chance of an infection, which also decreases the duration of swelling with your lip piercing. If you feel uncomfortable, you can always leave before the piercing. 

Clear Written And/Or Oral Instructions on Aftercare

Your piercing professional should provide you with detailed aftercare instructions. It’s essential that you follow the aftercare through the entire healing process. Piercings heal from the outside to the inside, so to the eye, they’ll appear to be healed before they are. If you slack off on aftercare, you’ll likely see a side effect, like prolonged swelling. 

The best aftercare product I’ve personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan, but it’s also completely alcohol and additive-free. The solution works well on all skin types including sensitive skin, and it comes in a generously-sized mist-spraying bottle for easy application. When using it from the very start of the healing process, the spray helps to decrease healing times and aims to eliminate any lingering pain or soreness.​

Making Sure Your Lips Look Lush

As with any new piercing, you’re likely to experience swelling for at least a few days following the procedure. Your body’s adjusting, and it needs time to make friends with your new look.

If you feel like you didn’t make the best choice of piercing professional or have a reason to fear that your piercing is swelling abnormally, keep an eye on any other symptoms that may accompany it. Infections occur when there’s also pain or tenderness. If that happens, seek medical help as you don’t want to risk a severe complication around your mouth.

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