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First a lip piercing, next the world!

I've always been fascinated with piercings and tattoos, and more recently, general body modification culture. For years, I was too afraid to do anything, or to express myself through piercings because none of my friends or peers were interested in body modification beyond tweezing their eyebrows. However, once I discovered BME a few years ago, it was like a new door opened to me – I could see a huge number of people who enjoyed body modification, and weren't afraid of what it represented; in fact, they loved what it represented! Since then, I've been slowly testing my boundaries with my family and friends to see just how far I can go before I really dig myself into a hole with them...

And basically, that's not too far – my parents are very anti-mod; they believe it to be inherently weird and "not normal." So I have a small tattoo, I stretched my ears to 0g myself, and once had now retired septum and rook piercings. But recently I've wanted something more visible, more interesting, more satisfying, and I settled on a side labret piercing. I've been reading up on BME, checking experiences, looking at pictures, and such for weeks to prepare myself to break the news to my mom – now legally her permission isn't necessary, but I never set out to "stick it" to my mom; this wasn't rebellion, it was me, and I wanted her to understand my choices more than anything. So I waited until we were trapped in the car together for an extended period of time, and I casually told her I wanted a lip ring...

And after about an hour of shockingly calm debate, going back and forth between our points of view, bargaining, explaining how I had carefully considered and thought out my decision, why I deserved to be crazy for once in my annoyingly uptight life, why this wasn't the end of the world, and why this didn't mean I was dropping out of college, she finally consented. I was absolutely floored! She didn't just say "fine", she actually understood where I was coming from and decided it was not that horrific of a decision – after all of this, she claimed I should work in legal since she was pretty sure she would wake up the next day and have no idea how I talked her into this, which to me meant I had successfully argued my point! YAY! My dad is easy to deal with, I told him over dinner, and he said rather cheerfully "ok" and said it was up to me, and that if I had managed to convince my mother, then surely it would be fine. Now instead of rushing to pierce my lip immediately, I wa nted to give them a few days for the information to sink in, and for me to keep defending myself until there were no more negatives for them to throw at me. After about a week, all discussion had ceased since I had explained the health pros and cons, how I would deal with potential employers (retainer, or I am willing to remove it if it's absolutely necessary for me to find a job after college), and made truthful promises that the lip piercing did not signal my descent into a drug-fueled, sexually deviant, and foolish oblivion.

It was very relieving to know that after the time and stress spent on talking to my parents, the actual piercing would be a walk in the park – I had waited a decent amount of time since settling on the labret (so I was sure I wouldn't change my mind), I was willing to do a regimented routine of cleaning and healthy healing (as always with my piercings, I figure if I get them, I might as well take some damn good care of them!), and I had researched local shops for positive reviews and reasonable prices. I finally settled on Tattoo Paradise in Wheaton; the original store is still in D.C., so I figured any tattoo parlor with the ability to create a chain is probably well liked. Reviews of the original parlor said it was clean, responsible, relatively well priced, and had friendly staff. I finally set the date for the piercing, called the place to make sure the piercer is available, and picked up my friend to come with me!

We arrived in a rather shady part of Wheaton in the later afternoon, paid for metered parking, and found our way to Tattoo Paradise – now don't let the seedy surrounding scare you, the parlor itself was very nice. It had separate cubicles for all of the tattooing, a back room for piercing, was clean (it even smelled clean, which I happily took as a good sign), and the walls were plastered with millions of tattoo images. I talked to the guy at the front, who turned out to be the piercer, Willett, and the price for both my lip and septum with jewelry was $100 – I had my septum done a while ago, and loved it to death, but had to remove it for surgery (couldn't even use a non-metal retainer because it was oral surgery, and nothing could be in my nose or mouth). My parents never knew about it before, and I don't plan on telling them about my new one since the trauma to them would be slightly unbearable. So anyways, from previous piercings and quotes, $100 for both piercings wit h the sterile jewelry included was a great deal to me, and I happily paid up. Willett said my friend and I would have to wait around for a while as everything was autoclaved – it was about an hour total, but my friend and I have a notorious talent for keeping ourselves entertained, and the time flew by. Willett said he was ready for me, and we all headed back to the piercing room.

Now the last time I had my septum pierced, the guy was very professional, but quite frankly a tool, and rather rude. He was a little robotic and scolded me for scrunching my face as he was piercing – understandable considering he was the one holding the needle, but it's a little hard, near impossible, for me to not "scrunch" when a needle is being jammed into my septum. Willett on the other hand was very friendly, had no problem when I asked to have my lip done with CBR instead of a stud, and allowed my friend and I to continue our endless chattering and joking right up to when the needle went through my face. Being able to talk to her right up the "point of no return!" was great, it was relaxing to giggle with her, and we even got Willett to laugh once while he was marking my lip. I choose a 16g CBR for my lip on the right side; he marked it twice to get good placement, and then it was time! He flipped open my lip, and in no time the needle was through – I'm not kidding when I say it was pretty much painless; I could feel the needle go through my lip, but there was no pain until it had to pop out of the last layer. Jewelry insertion was also painless. After the jewelry was in, the laughing and chatting continued almost immediately (like I said, we're notorious chatterboxes, and not even a fresh lip piercing was going to stop our irreverent banter!), the ring looked amazing when I checked in the mirror, and Willett started to get things ready for my septum.

So the lip had minimal pain, but the septum was another story – I asked Willett if he could pierce close to the previous spot since I liked the placement before, and after sticking his fingers up my nose (which of course sent my friend and I on another spiral of conversation...), he said he could still feel the original spot and it would be fine. I originally wanted a 12g retainer, but he said they don't use retainers in initial piercings, and he didn't have any 12g CBRs autoclaved – meh, not a big deal to me, I said a 14g CBR was perfectly fine and we were all good to go (I still plan to stretch to 12g once everything is healed in a few months, but that's a story for later). He adjusted the clamp a few times to get the spot correct, and finally he had the needle in hand and was ready; now I'm not sure what it is with the septum, but I always feel like there are two painful parts, like the needle gets pushed through a tiny bit to check, and then the needle is finally pushed a ll the way through – whatever it is, both times I thought the piercing was done with the first painful poke, and was sorely disappointed when it wasn't the end... My eyes watered a lot, a LOT, and it felt like pushing the needle through took much longer than the lip (and by much I mean maybe 2 seconds longer, but still...). Having my septum pierced the second time around was much more painful than the first, but it appears that the placement is prefect, so I think the extended pain and time involved was due to pushing through scar tissue. Well after the needle was in, the jewelry insertion wasn't half bad, and as soon as he closed the CBR, the talking and laughing resumed almost immediately; discussing my contorted face and the look of excruciating pain, how much my eyes watered, etcetera. So basically, while I'd say the pain was rather horrible during the very moment, it subsided very quickly, and was no deterrent in my gleeful mood. Willett cleaned up, gave me the aftercar e sheet, and checked to make sure I knew what to do from my previous piercings. I used H2Ocean last time, and "some kind of appropriate soap" which I was going to hunt down again, and he said both were good and that the "appropriate soap" was probably just Dial. I tipped him $20, thanked him, and left with a new spring in my step!

Aftercare has been great so far – it's been 2 days, and the septum is doing great. There is very little residual pain, only a tiny bit of crusties which I've been removing with warm soaks and saline. My lip is also doing quite nicely; absolutely no bleeding, very little pain (unless I accidentally hit my face, ow), a little swelling remains, and there is some slight redness. I was surprised to find that eating wasn't a bother whatsoever, and after getting used to the feeling, smiling and talking is completely normal as well. I absolutely love the placement; its position on the side of the lip is perfect, and most importantly it is no bother to the inside of the mouth. I was rather worried about the horror stories of receding gums, tooth erosion, and the like, but when my mouth is at rest, the ring doesn't even touch my gums or teeth; I have to make a huge smile for the piercing to get close enough to my jaw to touch anything. Hopefully this indicates that gum recession wi ll not be a problem for me, since my health comes first and the piercing would have to go if things were becoming dicey.

My family doesn't mind the lip terribly, my mom is still in recovery a little from the actual sight of it, but I think has finally settled on the fact that a lip piercing doesn't make me any less of a decent human being. I love the way my face looks now (not that I didn't love it before, love your bodies ladies!), and I think the additions are a better suit to my face than would be other more typical choices like caked on makeup or a nose job.

I really enjoy my piercings, and I plan on keeping up with obsessive compulsive aftercare as I usually do to make sure everything heals well. As far as the pain goes, anyone considering a facial piercing should never be dissuaded by the pain factor – a piercing is a wonderful, interesting, and pseudo-permanent fixture on your face, and if you're willing to maintain it, the initial pain is so minimal compared to the beautiful outcome, that it shouldn't even be a thought (and for those who are just squeamish, go with the lip, it was a breeze).

I would recommend Tattoo Paradise to anyone in my area, which would be the suburban-hell-suburbs of Washington D.C.; Willett was an excellent piercer, and I found the whole experience to be much more fun and entertaining since he was relaxed and friendly. I would return there for any other piercing or tattoo adventures, though that may be a long time from now to avoid giving my mom a coronary.

Hopefully my experience has helped, guided, encouraged, enlightened, or simply interested someone! Good luck to anyone planning to go through with it! :)


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 01 Sept. 2008
in Lip Piercing

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Artist: Willett
Studio: Tattoo+Paradise
Location: Wheaton%2C+Maryland

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