Medusa Piercings: The Ultimate ‘Philtrum’ Guide

  • Written By Dan Hunter on March 19, 2020
    Last Updated: March 17, 2022

The medusa piercing (or philtrum) has seen massive increases in popularity in recent times for both men and women – and it’s not surprising to see why.

A well-executed philtrum piercing can look striking, especially when matched up with bold and inventive jewelry.

What Is A Medusa Piercing?

The medusa piercing is an increasingly popular piercing which is placed centrally below the septum of the nose and above the upper lip.

As the vertical groove between the base of the nose and the top of the upper lip is anatomically known as the philtrum, this piercing is also known as a philtrum piercing.

Medusa piercing


Double Medusa Piercing

The double medusa piercing involves piercing the philtrum area twice so that a combination of different jewelry styles can be used with each other.

Vertical Medusa Piercing / Jestrum Piercing

The jestrum piercing involves perforating the philtrum area vertically so the barbel protrudes out of the skin twice, allowing two studs to sit on top of each other.

This piercing is different to the double medusa above due to this being only a single piercing, and not two separate ones.

What Happens During A Medusa Piercing?

Once at the studio, your piercer will usually start off by putting on a clean pair of latex gloves and cleaning the outer area of skin using an antibacterial substance such as alcohol. They will also likely give you an antiseptic oral solution to rinse the inside of your mouth out with before starting with the piercing.

From here the piercer will probably use a pen to mark the exact entry point in which the needle will go through and where the jewellery will eventually sit.

While holding the upper lip (usually with a clamp), your piercer will proceed to use a very thin and sharp hollow needle to penetrate the philtrum from the inside-out, being extremely careful as to ensure the needle goes right through the marked spot on the outer layer of skin.

Once the needle has fully penetrated the skin, a special instrument will be used to help pass the jewelry through the new hole so the piercer can then set it in place. This initial barbell will generally stay inserted until healing has finished.

Medusa Piercing Pain

While it’s normal to expect at least a couple of seconds of sharp pain during the initial procedure, the medusa piercing isn’t considered to be any more painful than other conventional lip/facial piercings.

However, several layers of skin and tissue will be perforated during the procedure, so as mentioned, you will very likely feel a few moment of sharp pain, but this should subside very quickly once the needle has fully penetrated the area.

Once the initial piercing has been completed, you are likely to experience some minor pain and discomfort throughout the next several days as the area begins working to heal itself.

You may experience a dull throbbing pain for the first day or two, but this should disperse quite quickly thereafter.

Along with the pain, you may experience some slight localized bruising, swelling, bleeding and tenderness. This is completely normal and is your body’s natural reaction to healing a mild trauma such as a skin wound.

How Much Does A Medusa Piercing Cost?

As with any other form of piercing or body modification, philtrum piercing prices can vary widely.

Depending on various factors such as piercer experience and studio location, the average cost of a medusa piercing generally tends to be set at between $40 – $80.

What To Do Before Getting A Medusa Piercing

In order for the piercing to turn out as successfully as possible, and to help ensure that risks such as possible infections are minimized, it’s important to undertake a few principal steps before walking into the shop for your piercing.

Brush Your Teeth – Your teeth and gums harbor many millions of bacteria, all of which can potentially cause problems such as infection if they were to enter a new cut or opening within the skin.

For this reason, you should remember to brush your teeth at least twice a day, and at any other point after consuming sugary snacks or drinks. Remember to give your tongue a good brush too, as your tongue can contain huge amounts of germs and bacteria.

Floss – Brushing your teeth will not completely remove all traces of bacteria from the hard to reach places between your teeth and gums, and therefore flossing often can help towards keeping those nasty bacteria away

Use Mouthwash – Finally, using a good mouthwash can do wonders for your oral hygiene.

How Long Does a Medusa Piercing Take To Heal?

While the healing process will always be different for everybody depending on their general health, immune system, and aftercare process, all medusa piercings should generally take between 6-12 weeks to completely heal, although for most people it should take closer to 6 weeks as long as correct aftercare and cleaning procedures have been correctly applied.

Although the pain and swelling can disperse after only a few days, and while the outside of a piercing can look as though it has sufficiently healed rather quickly, it’s worth noting that the tissue deep inside the piercing hole will take considerably longer to fully heal and close up, and therefore you should still continue to take good care of your piercing right up until that 6 week mark (at the very least).

Medusa Piercing Aftercare

While lip piercing healing is relatively straight forward, there are a few things to know about and a few situations to be wary of.

As the first week of healing is always the most important, you’ll want to ensure that you take extra good care during this period.

During this initial week, you’ll want to eat and drink carefully to ensure the area doesn’t get irritated as your lips/the insides of your mouth move around.

Along with taking care when eating and drinking, it’s highly recommended that you completely avoid smoking during the first week (at least) as all of the harsh chemicals can seep into the wound and cause further damage and inadequate/delayed healing.

Along with smoking, alcohol consumption should also be avoided during the early stages of medusa piercing aftercare as it can cause the wound to not only dry out, but the strength of the alcohol can also cause damage to the healing tissue inside of the wound.

Swimming is also an activity that should not be undertaken for at least a couple of weeks while the area continues to heal.

Finally, it’s recommended that all kissing is avoided for at least a week to ensure that no bacteria is transferred over from somebody else’s lips/mouth into your open wound.

Medusa Piercing Swelling

Although it won’t happen in all cases, swelling that appears around a medusa piercing a day or two after the procedure is relatively common. The amount of swelling that may occur will also depend on various factors such as how your body usually reacts to trauma.

In most cases, lip piercing swelling will simply result in a small, slightly raised bump around the central upper lip area (likely inside and outside), which will slowly disperse over the next week.

In order to accommodate for any swelling that may potentially occur, most good piercing professionals will use a longer barbell for the initial jewelry so there is plenty of room for the area of flesh to expand.

Cleaning A Medusa Piercing

A quick video guide to cleaning a new piercing:

Properly cleaning your new philtrum piercing regularly is important to promote fast and healthy healing and to prevent nasty infections can permanently scar and disfigure a piercing if not treated quickly.

Cleaning The Outside

When cleaning the outside of your philtrum piercing, you should try to be as gentle and delicate as possible.

If there is any dry/sticky crust or blood clinging to the outside of the wound then you should never attempt to just pick it off; instead, you should soak a cotton ball in warm water before gently dabbing it around the area in an effort to rub the crust away.

Once the area around the wound is clear, you should apply a small amount of cleaning solution (such as a saline solution) to the jewelry and wound.

You should also allow the cleaning solution to soak into the area for 30-60 seconds to ensure the wound is sterilized properly.

Finally, you should finish cleaning the outside of the wound by gently blotting it with more warm water to ensure that all cleaning solution has been thoroughly rinsed away.

To finish off the cleaning process, dab the area dry with a clean paper towel (avoid using fabric/cotton towels as these can transfer bacteria to the area).

Be Careful

Try your hardest to not get any makeup products or other lotions/ointments/creams on the area when conducting your daily facial makeup/cleansing routine.

All of these products can cause irritation and damage to the already very delicate area during the healing stages.

A good way to ensure your piercing heals as best as possible is to use a specialized piercing aftercare product, as these generally only contain ingredients that are guaranteed to have a positive effect during the healing stages.

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.​

Cleaning The Inside

To ensure the inside of the philtrum piercing is kept clean, you should make sure that you wash your mouth out with alcohol-free mouthwash after every meal for 30-60 seconds.

This swilling not only helps to ensure the area is kept disinfected, but it also helps to dislodge any food that may have been caught inside the hole.

If you’d like an alternative to mouthwash, a non-iodized sea salt blend can be used, or even a saline solution.

If you’re eating away from home and have none of the above cleaning solutions at hand, you should try to swill your mouth with clean water straight after your meal before ensuring that you try to clean the inside of your mouth properly as soon as you’re next able to.

Medusa Piercing Healing – What NOT To Do

It is imperative that you help your philtrum piercing heal as best as you possibly can to avoid any potential complications, and this means there are several things you definitely shouldn’t do while the piercing continues to heal, including:

  • Using alcohol to clean your piercing
  • Covering the piercing in petroleum-based products
  • Touching your piercing with dirty/unwashed hands
  • Engaging in oral sex or french kissing
  • Exposing the wound to other harsh products and chemicals
  • Submerging the wound in a body of water
  • Eating very hot or spicy foods
  • Smoking, chewing or otherwise ingesting any form of tobacco product

Medusa Piercing Infections

While Medusa piercing infections are quite uncommon, they can occur during the healing stages, especially if the piercing hasn’t been looked after as well as it should have.

If you believe your wound may have become infected, then you should act fast to get the infection treated by a medical professional.

Common symptoms of an infection include:

  • Extreme redness that doesn’t clear or begins to get gradually worse.
  • Severe swelling that doesn’t disperse or starts to affect talking, eating, and drinking
  • ​​Severe pain (only mild pain should be experienced after a medusa piercing)
  • Severe rashes or reactions that appear around the site of the wound (including excessive bleeding, pus/oozing, and crusty scabbing)
  • Extreme itchiness around the area of the piercing

Other Risks

It must be known that all piercing variations come with an element of risk, and this includes medusa piercings. It’s therefore advised that you study the risks associated with philtrum piercings as much as you can before entering a studio in order to negate any risks as best as possible.

The most common risks associated with medusa piercings are:

Infection – As mentioned above, infections are most likely to happens during the initial healing stages and can usually be prevented by incorporating good care and hygiene practices.

Tooth Erosion – This can sometimes happen when the jewelry disk inside the mouth comes into frequent contact with the upper front teeth. Over time, this rubbing can wear down the enamel and create small pits and divots within the teeth, which will also likely increase the risk of tooth decay.

Receding gums caused by a rubbing labret

Gum Recession – Like tooth erosion, except gum recession happens when the disk rubs against the gums instead of the teeth, causing the gums to wear down and recede.

Scarring – Poor healing around the wound area or accidental damage to the piercing site can lead to permanent skin damage in the form of scarring. The risk of medusa piercing scarring can be minimized by caring for the wound properly during healing and being careful not to have the piercing pulled on, ripped out, or otherwise damaged throughout its lifetime.

Medusa Piercing Jewelry

Like all piercing variations, there is a huge selection of medusa piercing jewelry available for every style imaginable, with all shapes, sizes, materials, and colors instantly available at most jewelry shops worldwide.

While the most common type of jewelry by far is the standard labret stud, there are dozens of other types available, such as balls, spikes, rings, and chains, among others; the world is your oyster!

When searching for your medusa piercing jewelry, you’ll likely come across a range of sizes and may be unsure which size to choose. As a rough guide, most lip piercings will usually be done in either a 16 gauge or an 18 gauge, therefore, use these sizes as a starting point when picking out your new jewelry.

If you’re still unsure about the correct size and don’t want to make the wrong decision, it’s always best to consult a piercing professional so they can give you a face-to-face opinion on what sizes and jewelry types will best suit your own specific piercing.


All variations of lip piercings can look massively impressive if done correctly and matched with a piece of jewelry that suits your own personal style.

As long as you care for your piercing as best as possible throughout the whole aftercare phase ​and try to avoid as many risk factors as possible, you should have a perfect piece of facial bling for decades to come.

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