The Rise and Demise of my Large Gauge Labret
The saga began back in January 2009, when I became the instant proud owner of a 2.4mm labret piercing. My intention had always been to go much larger, having styled myself as one of those “go big or go home” modification enthusiasts. I booked my piercing slot and ordered in my own jewellery, as my piercer didn’t routinely offer piercings at larger gauges. The healing was uneventful, apart from some swelling caused by an impromptu drinking session two weeks later. It’s true what they say, oral piercings and alcohol don’t mix!
As time progressed, I began stretching the piercing. I was careful not to rush the stretching process, having witnessed a few facial piercing blowouts. Despite feeling driven to go larger, I tried to listen to my body and only stretch when the skin was becoming loose. Through a combination of dead stretching and taping up, I achieved a 7mm labret by March 2010. However, I still wasn’t satisfied and began thinking about having my lip scalpelled. I spent a long time thinking about the consequences of modifying my face, and how it might affect my future.
The plan to scalpel up really took off the ground when I managed to get my hands on a couple of custom made labret plugs from an online acquaintance. She had used these plugs when having her own lip scalpelled the year before. I think examining the jewellery first hand gave me the opportunity to judge how it would look on me. After all, your face has such a familiar appearance that making a permanent change of this magnitude can’t be taken lightly. The plugs I had acquired from her were obviously too large for my lip. From there I had some custom jewellery of my own made up, settling on a 14mm round PTFE plug with a long wearable area to accommodate swelling.
In April 2010 I visited a piercer/ modification artist who I had met online. Although he did not have a vast amount of experience in surgical modifications, he was an experienced piercer and had shown great promise in the few harder procedures he had done. Always being the guinea pig, I was happy to offer myself up to what I thought would be a simple enough procedure. Whilst I was there, we would also replace some of the microdermal implants I had lost in recent years, as I was interested in his method of placement by dermal punching.
When we got to the labret scalpelling itself, I was laid out on the piercing bench and marked up for a single horizontal cut. I remember pulling all kinds of faces to make sure that I was marked up correctly – A lip is a difficult thing to cut accurately because it has a massive ability to stretch from its normal resting position (try smiling). The cut itself was surprisingly painless, probably due to the adrenaline rushing through me. There was a moment of panic when the taper wouldn’t go through the hole due to the sudden swelling. I had to reassure the artist that everything was ok, and I think we were both looking a little pale at that point. Eventually the cut was widened slightly to allow the taper to go through, and this was followed by the jewellery. I returned home on a three hour train journey, splattered with blood everywhere from my trousers to my hair.
The healing process was long and painful. Despite taking special care over cleanliness, a few days in I noticed a peculiar smell arising from my new wound and was forced to seek medical attention. The nurse I visited seemed clueless, offering diagnoses of everything from fungal infection to bacterial infection. She asked me to remove the jewellery, but backed down when I told her that she’d have to stitch me back up. I eventually came away with broad spectrum antibiotics and a fungicidal cream for thrice daily application. Once the infection was overcome, I then had to deal with the mucosa inside my lip trying to grow over the jewellery. I had large ulcers which I gradually killed off with a combination of biting and aspirin paste. Overall and unpleasant experience.
Over the next month it became obvious that my labret was stretching, and that the hole was much larger than I had originally anticipated. Prior research had informed me that scalpelled labrets were prone to stretching themselves, and I had chosen to scalpel to a size slightly smaller than my final goal (16mm). However along with this natural stretching, I realised that my lip was simply too small to comfortably fit a 16mm round plug. From here, the only way forward was to have some custom oval plugs made. I settled on 19x12mm oval stone plugs with a concave t-back and sufficient wearable area to hold the jewellery in without o-rings.
After all the initial trauma of healing, I grew to love my large gauge labret and even managed to convince a few of my work colleagues that it suited me. However by spring 2011, I noticed that my beautiful custom jewellery was becoming loose. Eating in public was starting to get embarrassing, where I’d spend half of the soup course wiping away food with a napkin. I also found that I couldn’t eat apples, or anything else hard that I had to bite into because I couldn’t comfortably expose my lower teeth. By the start of the summer, I noticed that the stone jewellery had started to push back all of my lower teeth – my gum line felt completely smoothed out, and the natural curve of my lower teeth had been completely flattened. Whilst I felt no pain and could see no obvious tooth-threatening gum recession, I knew I had to do the ‘sensible thing’.
After considering a visit to one of the well-known professional body modification artists, I eventually plumped for cosmetic surgery at a local private hospital. I wanted the assurance of neat stitching and comprehensive aftercare, and I’d put the financial outlay down to a life experience. I was booked in for surgery in September 2011, where the hole was cut open and stitched back together under local anaesthetic. In a 45-minute procedure I received three layers of stitches comprising 13 in total, and was sealed up with a layer of Dermabond on the outside.
Three days after surgery, there have been no complications. The massive swelling from the surgery has mostly subsided, as have the deep lines of bruising from the anaesthetic injections. I now look forward to having the stitches removed in another two days. My lip will never look the same as it did before the saga began, and it appears that the bottom edge of my lip will always look slightly pulled down… but hey, some people pay good money for surgically fattened lips!
To this day, I wholeheartedly believe that there’s nothing more attractive than a brunette with a large gauge labret and big doe eyes! It’s just unfortunate that I’m never going to get to be one of them. The lessons that I would pass on to anyone thinking about lip scalpelling are these: Think about what could go wrong and how you’re going to fix it, because you will probably never look the same again; Be aware that scalpelled piercings can be prone to stretching of their own accord, and there is only a finite amount of space in your lip to fit the jewellery!
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 19 Sept. 2011
in Scalpelled and Large Gauge Lip Piercings