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Button your lip

It's been a very, very long time since I've had a new piercing – in fact, recently I've taken a lot of them out and downsized my half-inch earlobes to 5mm, because I was kind of bored with the whole piercing thing. (I know, shoot me now!) My first body modification love has always been ink, with piercings as a secondary decorative attraction rather than the Big Deal for me. But, despite this, there are still some piercings that I need to have to feel complete – the ones I've kept (my tragi, rooks, tongue, hood and vertical labret) are part of me now and will never go, and in addition having my nipples, conches and philtrum pierced will finally complete me, piercing-wise.

As I can't have my nipples pierced yet and at the moment I'm not up to dealing with a difficult-to-heal (for me, that is) cartilage piercing or two, I decided a couple of weeks ago that it would have to be my philtrum that was done first. Luckily for me, one of my dearest friends, M, is a piercer of many years' experience and she happily volunteered to pierce me as long as I provided the jewellery. I ordered something a bit different for me: a plastic labret stud with a metal ball on the end. It is made from something called "Bioplast", which the website I bought it from claims is autoclave-able and suitable for fresh piercings, and because I am very paranoid about gum and tooth erosion I decided to go with this to see how I would fare: it could always be changed for a titanium stud if it didn't work out. I ordered a 1.6mm (14ga) stud that was 10mm long, as I am of the Angelina Jolie school of bee-stung lips and I'd already had a nasty experience when my madonna piercing swelled monstrously and unexpectedly.

It was almost a spur-of-the-moment decision to have it done; I was out with M on a glorious Bank Holiday Monday and I just suggested it out of the blue. Once my jewellery and all the necessary implements were fully sterilised and I was slightly anaesthetised with Xylocaine, we were ready to roll.

M marked my lip, clamped it and then proceeded to pierce me from the inside of my lip outwards – I wasn't expecting this, but when I think about it of course this is the way it would go. The Xylocaine had done its job on the inner mucous membrane of my mouth but the numbness, as is always the way, didn't go very deep and I felt every millimetre of the needle through my lip. The inner layer of skin didn't hurt too much, then the muscle layers inside were rather sharp, but it was the push through the outer, "proper" skin of my upper lip that really got to me; M had to shove that needle through quite hard I'm convinced that there was an actually popping noise once it was through! I managed to be quite brave and not make too much noise about it all – I can be a bit of a whimperer – but of course we were only partway there...

M snipped off the cannula and started to insert the jewellery, a process that I hate more than the needle-through-flesh bit. It was extremely fiddly, too, because my nose was in the way of the cannula sticking up through my lip, my teeth were in the way of the bit inside my mouth and there's just not that much room to work with in there! Eventually though, the jewellery was through (always a painful bit and I'm sorry to say I made a heck of a noise at that point, but it was over quickly) and M screwed the ball into place. I had my philtrum piercing at last!

I checked it out in the mirror and to be honest I wasn't exactly overwhelmed with how it looked at first; the jewellery was very long and there were at least 2mm of labret post sticking out of my skin and it was pointing upwards, which I hadn't expected. M explained that that's just the nature of philtrum piercings, and once the swelling – which hadn't started yet – had gone down I could change for an 8mm long stud, which would sit nicely in my cupid's bow and look splendid. I started to realise the truth of this the next morning when I woke to find that my lip had indeed swelled rather a lot; those 2mm of post had now gone and although I looked like I'd gone a couple of rounds with Ricky Hatton I knew that eventually, this piercing would look fine on me.

For the next couple of days, I suffered quite a bit with the swelling and pain – because you dehydrate overnight, in the mornings I looked pretty dreadful, but once I'd rehydrated myself the swelling would subside during the day a little. The pain was another matter though; I developed a little mouth ulcer right next to the flat end of the labret stud, between the piercing and my teeth, and it was exquisitely painful. (Strangely enough, precisely the same thing had happened to be when I had my lower lip pierced with a ring.) By the Friday, however, the little ulcer stopped being quite so sore and I was feeling quite a bit happier.

All this time I'd been using precisely zero "aftercare" on my piercing. I've been pierced more times than I care to remember – and I'm still a complete wuss about them! – and along the way I've discovered that leaving piercings to do their own thing is, for me, absolutely the best way to go about healing them. So there were no salt soaks or mouthwash or anything like that here; I simply did nothing with the piercing. The only thing that I will do for piercings is to removes crusties (with a cotton bud soaked in warm water), but as yet my philtrum was crusty-free and so I hadn't even had to do that. The one thing I did start to do was take ibuprofen, as I was a little concerned with how long it had stayed swollen for; this helped a little with the swelling and a lot with the pain.

It's now almost three weeks since I was pierced, and things are going well. Both the swelling and the ulcer have gone completely (the ulcer lasted about 10 days) and I'm nearly pain-free, except when I accidentally bang it – I can even brush my teeth now without it hurting. There are minimal crusties that just need removing once or twice a day and that's all there is to show how new the piercing is. The labret stud is now just a little too long and needs to be changed down to an 8mm one. The placement is spot on, perfectly aligned with my vertical labret, and already people have said it looks like my lips have been pierced or buttoned together, which (and don't call me odd) is precisely the look I was going for. I'm a happy chicken all round!

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 29 May 2008
in Lip Piercing

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Location: Nottingham

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