Medusa Piercing Guide - Everything You Need To Know About 'The Philtrum'
The medusa piercing (or philtrum) has seen huge increases in popularity in recent times for both men and women - and it's not surprising why.
A well-executed philtrum piercing can look striking, especially when matched up with some bold and inventive jewellery.
However - as nice as they are, medusa piercing still need to be well respected during their healing stages, and you must ensure that you know as much as possible about them before taking the dive.
Taking good care helps to ensure that everything turns out as it should and your piercing ends up looking as perfect as you initially imaged.
This article has been written to explain as much as possible about everything you're going to need to know about these beautiful piercings.
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.
In terms of how a medusa piercing is usually set up, a labret stud is commonly used as the jewellery type of choice. The stud is usually made up of three separate sections, including:
The Bead - This is the part of the stud which is visible on the outside of the skin and which comes available in many hundreds of different styles and colors. Most of your medusa piercing jewellery choices will be primarily based on how the bead looks.
The Barbell - This is the long middle section of the stud which connects the bead at the front to the disk at the back.
The Disk - The disk is the final section of the stud which the barbell is attached to. The disk helps to keep the rest of the stud in place and stops the bead and barbell from slipping out.
Double Medusa Piercing
The double medusa piercing involves piercing the philtrum area twice so that a combination of different stud styles can be used with each other.
Vertical Medusa Piercing / Jestrum Piercing
The jestrum piercing involves piercing the philtrum area vertically so that 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 piercing above due to this a single piercing, not two separate piercings.
What Happens During A Medusa Piercing?
Whist a medusa piercing may look relatively straightforward, it’s imperative that the piercing is placed perfectly central within the philtrum area, as any slight deviations either left, right, up or down can cause the piercing to look symmetrically out of place or otherwise wonky.
Not only this, but if the piercing is placed incorrectly it could increase the risk of various issues occurring such as gum recession and dental erosion.
For these reasons you should ensure that the piercer you choose is both professional and experienced with not only piercings in general, but with medusa piercings specifically.
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 likely use a pen to mark the exact entry point in which the needle will go through and where the jewellery will eventually sit.
Whilst 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 jewellery 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 - How Much Does It Hurt?
Whilst 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 common 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.
It’s also worth remembering that no two people are the same when it comes to pain and pain tolerance. Everybody perceives pain differently from one another, and this means that whilst one person may find this specific procedure extremely painful, another person may find it absolutely fine and not painful at all.
Therefore, don’t worry if somebody tells you than medusa piercings are unbearable - it doesn’t mean that you’ll have the same experience.
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 and tenderness, however this is considered completely normal and is your body’s natural reaction to healing a mild trauma such as a skin wound.
Finally, don’t be worried if the area bleeds slightly during or shortly after the procedure, as again, this is completely normal and the bleeding should completely stop a day or two afterwards (usually much sooner).
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 possible infections are minimized, it’s important to undertake a few principal steps before walking into the shop for your piercing.
The most crucial part of your preparation will be to ensure that the area around where your future piercing will go is kept as clean as it can possibly be.
Try to carry out the below steps in the week leading up to your piercing appointment to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as it possibly can.
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. This should help to keep bacteria numbs around the area lower, decreasing the risk of possible issues arising.
Remember to give your tongue a good brush too, as you 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. Rinsing your mouth out with an antibacterial solution after finishing the rest of your cleaning routine can help to wash away all of the food particles and bacteria that you’ve just dislodged by brushing and flossing.
How Long Does a Medusa Piercing Take To Heal?
Whilst 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..
Whilst 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 Guide
Whilst the healing in itself should be 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 chemical 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 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. Swimming in a chlorinated pool can cause the wound to dry out and alternatively swimming in an untreated (unchlorinated) body of water can open your new wound to a whole host of nasty infection-causing bacteria.
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.
After the first week or two have passed (hopefully without a hitch), the most vital and important moments in the life of your piercing are out of the way can you can now focus on keeping the area clean for the rest of the healing process.
Cleaning A Medusa Piercing
As mentioned in the section above, properly cleaning your new philtrum piercing regularly is important to promote fast and healthy healing and to prevent nasty infections can can permanently scar and disfigure a piercing if not treated quickly.
As the piercing wound is open on both the outside and the inside of the mouth, there is a unique cleaning technique for both sides. However, there is one thing that should always be done before starting both cleaning routine, and that is to ensure that your hands have always been washed well before touching your new piercing wound.
Whilst the wound may be sore to touch for several days or even up to a week, it’s still important that you attempt to clean the area as best you can.
Cleaning The Outside
When cleaning the outside of you philtrum piercing you should try to be as gentle and delicate as possible.
If there is any dried/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 attempt 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 before gently twisting/rotating the jewelry around in the piercing hole (and also back-and-forth) for a few moment.
You should also allow the cleaning solution to soak into the area for 30-60 seconds to ensure the wound is properly sterilized.
Finally, you should finish cleaning the outside of the wound by gently blotting it with more warm water while twisting the jewellry a few more times to ensure that all cleaning solution has rinsed away.
To finish of 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).
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 ensured to have a positive effect during the healing stages.
My Favorite Piercing Aftercare Product
The best piercing aftercare product that I've had the pleasure of using to this point is the H2Ocean Piercing Aftercare Spray.
Not only is every single ingredient completely natural, but the spray works brilliantly on all skin types (including sensitive skin) and comes in a very generously sized can.
Many other users of the spray also advise that when using it from the very start of the healing process it appears to decrease healing times and seems to help reduce any lingering pain/soreness.
Read more about the H2Ocean Piercing Spray here. Have a quick look at some of the customer reviews and you'll see why it's one of the most popular piercing sprays.
If you're looking for a product that is a little more subtle and can fit easily in a bag to take with you on your travels, take a look at the Dr. Piercing Aftercare Swabs that are also very highly rated by previous customers, and can be carried in a bag/jacket much more easily.
Cleaning The Inside
In order to ensure that 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 not only helps to ensure that 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.
Finally, it recommended that you use a brand new toothbrush after getting a medusa piercing to to to minimize the transfer of bacteria to the wound as best as possible.
You should continue to clean the inside and outside of the piercing twice a day (morning & night) until the area has finished healing.