Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Labret, or Lip Piercing

One of the more unusual piercings, both in ancient and modern practice, is the labret, or lip piercing. The term “labret” is Latin in origin, from labrum meaning “lip” and is pronounced "lah-bret." It is the modern, umbrella term for all piercings around the opening of the mouth. Primitive and contemporary piercings are found in both the upper and lower lips in a variety of thicknesses and placements.

labret and medusa piercingsIn the past, the mention of a lip piercing brought to mind exotic Africa and large wooden disks. Many people probably now imagine any number of dark-clad young people with silver lip and nose rings who work at the corner store or are their own children. In essence, these two ends are achieved through nearly the same means, but in each case the person is operating under different cultural norms and treats the piercing differently during healing.

Placement of lip piercings can vary quite a bit, and often jewelry choice is related to the location and size of the piercing. Lower lip piercings can be centered or placed as desired almost anywhere along the lower lip line. Rings are frequently worn for lower lip piercings, but curved tusks, short spikes and studs can be worn if desired.

Upper lip piercings frequently are “beauty mark” style, sometimes called a Madonna piercing, after the singer’s beauty mark. A tiny barbell or stud is most often worn in upper lip piercings, to make the piercing most resemble the namesake beauty mark placement. More often the style of backing chosen for post-style jewelry becomes more important than the part that shows outside the mouth.

This is a piercing that should never be performed by someone who has not had training, and should never be done with a piercing gun. Good placement and sound piercing techniques can make this a long-lived and enjoyable piercing choice. Consult your piercer with any questions you have regarding care and healing, and ask them what info you can pass along to your dentist to help them be more piercing-positive

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