What is a Monroe lip piercing? How did it get its name?
Unless you’re a classic Hollywood movie buff, you may not get the link between the name “Monroe” and a lip piercing. Monroe lip piercings are placed between the upper lip and nose. They imitate Marilyn Monroe’s famous beauty mark in that area of the face.
In this article, we will cover in-depth these Monroe lip piercings, any pain that you may experience, aftercare and time needed for healing. You’ll also learn about various kinds of jewelry for Monroe piercings and how you can hide the piercings from work managers, parents or anyone else, using makeup.
Monroe Lip Piercing – General Information
A Monroe piercing is generally performed on women. It may be worn in different ways and given names to actors or other famous people who wore them in that area. Monroe piercings are usually done above the upper left lip. If it is done above the upper right lift, it’s called a Madonna. Double Monroe piercings are worn on both sides, and are known as antibites or angelbites.
If you wear a longer barbell with a Monroe piercing, it will give it a similar look to crayfish antennae, so that nickname comes from the crayfish.
As a rule, these piercings are done with small gauge 16 or 18 labret bars. Once your swelling has gone down and the healing is complete, you can shorten the bar to 14 or 16 gauge.
While Monroe piercing is becoming more popular, it is considered inappropriate in some settings, like your workplace or school. If your manager or professor frowns on piercings, you can just remove your piercing jewelry. Here’s how:
- Rinse your mouth with non-alcoholic mouthwash.
- Wash your hands using antibacterial soap.
- Put on latex gloves, for better grip.
- Use fingers or cotton swabs to remove any crust around the outside of your piercing.
- Pull your upper lip away from your gum and hold the inside portion of your jewelry with your left index finger and thumb.
- As you hold the inside jewelry part, use your free hand to hold onto the outer piercing ball.
- Gently twist or unscrew the ball until it is free from the stem.
- Once you have removed the ball, gently pull inward to remove the stem and flat disc.
Monroe lip piercing removal is more easily handled by your professional piercer, and many will do it with no charge to you. If your piercing has become infected, do not remove the jewelry yourself. In addition, if you remove the jewelry before your hole is healed, it will quickly close up, making reinsertion of the jewelry very painful.
Monroe Lip Piercing – Potential Side Effects
Monroe lip piercings usually heal quickly, with less chance for side effects like infection, bleeding and swelling. Like all lip piercings, however, you must take care of your piercing to lessen the chance of side effects. Read up on the possible side effects of a Monroe lip piercing:
- Irritation of skin
- Allergic reactions
- Gum recession and erosion
- Tooth chipping
The information we provide here will help you know what you can expect with a Monroe lip piercing. If you use a professional piercer and care for your piercing properly, you can more likely prevent infection. This gives you a better chance for a healthy, safe piercing.
Monroe Piercing Photos
These photographs show you the ways you can wear different jewelry types with a Monroe piercing.
How Much Does Monroe Lip Piercing Cost?
The price you pay for this type of piercing depends largely on your location. In the UK, the price ranges 10-30 Euros. The price for the first bar change varies.
In Canada, the price is $30-$35 CAD for the Monroe piercing and about $50 CAD for an angelbite piercing.
In the United States, a Monroe piercing may cost between $25 and $80. The lower prices may not be from professional piercers, though. It’s better to pay a bit more and get the work done by a professional.
Aftercare for Monroe Piercings
As with most piercings, there is a chance for infections of the Monroe piercing if you don’t use proper aftercare. A professional piercer will give you in-depth instructions for aftercare.
The Monroe piercing is oral and facial as well, so the cleaning needs to be done inside and outside the piercing.
Cleaning your Monroe Lip Piercing
Not only will proper cleaning keep your piercing from becoming infected; it will also promote faster healing.
- Rinse the inside of your mouth and the piercing with alcohol-free mouthwash or use sea salt soaks (non-iodized). Your mouth should be rinsed after you smoke or eat.
Don’t use mouthwash more than five times each day. You can use sea salt rinses at other times, if you wish to rinse more. The sea salt solution is made by adding 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt to one cup of warm (not hot) water. Do NOT clean your piercing with alcohol or peroxide, as they may cause irritation.
- Use a new toothbrush with soft bristles to control bacteria in your mouth. Brush the jewelry area gently, in order to prevent any build-up of plaque.
- Wash your hands well with antibacterial soap before each time you touch your piercing.
- For cleaning the exterior of your piercing, use an antimicrobial soap. No not use colored or scented soap.
- Use a clean cotton pad to soak your piercing in salty, warm water. This softens the crust outside your piercing.
- Once a day, wash the outside of your piercing with a medicated cleaning liquid. Make sure it’s mild. Rinse the piercing under warm running water for 30 seconds or more, and rotate the jewelry while rinsing.
- Pat your piercing dry using a paper towel. Make sure both ends are snug and secure.
- Do not overdo your cleaning. Twice a day is fine. Don’t drink alcohol, smoke or use recreational drugs while your piercing is healing. Don’t swim in public places like swimming pools or lakes.
Cleaning an Infected Monroe Lip Piercing
If you only have a mild infection, cleaning promptly with the steps above may be enough to handle it. However, if the infection is more severe, with symptoms that include fever, swelling and pain, speak with your physician for treatment.
Pain with Monroe Piercings
Do Monroe piercings hurt? As with all piercings, the pain level will be different, depending on your tolerance. On a 1-10 scale, where 0 is no pain and 10 is severe pain, Monroe piercings rate between 2 and 3, which means very little pain.
This is a very quick piercing, and the pain you may feel will be like a sting or pinch. It’s normal for the piercing to swell and be sore for a few days. After that, the pain level is usually low.
Swelling with a Monroe Lip Piercing
How soon does the swelling go down after a Monroe piercing? It may remain swollen and red as it heals. The time it will take for your swelling to go down depends on your pain tolerance and healing capability. Three to five days is average, and the better the care, the shorter the initial healing time will be.
While your lip is swollen, it may fit too snugly on the piercing jewelry, which could cause it to sink into or embed in the piercing. That’s why most professional piercers use longer bars at piercing, to be left in until the piercing has healed.
What can you do to reduce swelling?
- You may hold an ice cube on your piercing for 15 minutes or less a few times each day. Sucking a Popsicle® or chewing crushed ice will help the inside of the piercing.
- Sea salt soaking is a good way to reduce the swelling in a Monroe lip piercing.
- Anti-inflammatory medications can reduce the inflammation.
- Avoid kissing and oral sex to avoid traumatizing the wound.
- Chew your food slowly and avoid excessive speaking or singing. Otherwise, those acts can stretch the muscles and cause slower healing.
- Elevate your head in bed for the first three days to avoid blood pooling.
- Keep the piercing holes clean to avoid any infection.
- Only handle the piercing when you clean it. Don’t play with it.
These tips should reduce any swelling you experience. If you continue to experience swelling, along with fever or severe pain, speak to your physician.
Scarring with a Monroe Piercing
Not every piercing will scar, but accept it as a possibility before you have piercings done. Sizes of scars vary, depending on the gauge of the needle used, and whether or not the healing process was uneventful.
Monroe piercing scar tissue forms with different thickness levels for each person. It is usually thicker than the skin surrounding it. If you’re worried about what to tell your children or grandchildren if they ask about your scar, select smaller jewelry. It will leave scars that are less visible.
You can also have your lip piercing scar removed. Speak with a dermatologist about scar revision or use treatment creams, which help to fade it.
Tips for Fading your Monroe Piercing Scar
- Apply cocoa butter or Shea butter.
- Massage the area using vitamin E, A or C oils.
- Use tea tree oil on the scar.
- Rub vinegar, tomato or a lemon slice on the scar to lighten it.
These methods are helpful in fading the scar, reducing its visibility as time passes.
Dealing with an Infected Monroe Piercing
Any piercing has a chance to become infected. If you don’t take care of your piercing, it will be more likely to develop infection. Your mouth is a hot bed of bacteria, so it’s not difficult for your piercing to become colonized and infected. Once you develop an infection, the symptoms usually take about two or three days to show up.
Common Symptoms & Signs of an Infected Monroe Lip Piercing
- Throbbing pain
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing
- Swelling of lymph nodes
- Yellowish-green discharge that may have a foul smell.
If you don’t treat your infection, these signs may become worse, and can spread to your lower lip, gums, cheeks or teeth. If you note any of these symptoms, consult your physician for medical treatment to clear up the infection. Failure to treat an infection may lead to heart or other systemic infections.
DO NOT remove the jewelry, even if you have an infection. Otherwise the hole may close, sealing in the pus, which can lead to an abscess. DO NOT try to squeeze pus from the infection site.
Healing a Monroe Piercing
Full healing time for a Monroe piercing may be as many as 8 to 12 weeks. Some only take three to six weeks. Take care of the outside and inside of the piercing, to speed healing.
Healing Stages of a Monroe Piercing
From the piercing for the first several weeks, you will experience, swelling, soreness, redness and bleeding. The site may become itchy and hot. If you are going to develop an infection, this is the time when it will likely begin. Clean your piercing and soak it regularly, using the cleaning instructions above.
From several weeks to a few months post-piercing, this is when healing usually occurs. The time frames vary by person, according to your overall health and healing ability. You may still experience mild irritation, soreness and itching. The outside may already be healed, but the inside is still fragile and may still be sore. Excess movement and trauma can knock you back to the first stage, medically.
As your wound heals, it will exude plasma or dead cells. This will appear on the surface as a white crust. Soak it to loosen it for easier removal. Don’t pick at the crust when it’s dry.
Check too, whether you have skin growing over your inside lip. This means that you need a longer bar. Have it changed out as soon as you can.
In this final stage of healing, the skin cells within your piercings will smooth, toughen and seal. This makes it easier to take your jewelry out and put it back in. Once you complete this stage, closure after jewelry removal will take time. Healing will be facilitated by the aftercare tips above.
Healing Tips for Monroe Piercing
- Change your bedding often.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Don’t remove the jewelry until healing is complete.
- Take small bites and chew slowly.
- Avoid salty, hot and spicy foods for the first few weeks after piercing.
- Take multiple vitamins and vitamin C and zinc supplements to boost healing.
- Don’t directly apply make-up on a piercing until it’s completely healed.
Jewelry for Monroe Piercings
Smaller labret studs are often used in Monroe lip piercings. You may also wear small rings made for smaller piercings. Women have this piercing done more often than men, since it’s dainty.
Piercing jewelry comes in different sizes and lengths. Standard sizes used to wear in Monroe piercings are usually 14 or 16 gauge. Standard length is between 5/16” to 3/8”. For the initial piercings, your piercer will use longer bars. They can be changed out after the swelling has gone down.
Most pieces of Monroe piercing jewelry have a flat metal piece, crystal ball or diamond gem for the outside. The top can be pushed on or screwed on to make it secure. Regularly check the tightness, so you know the jewelry stays where it belongs.
If you want the piercing to appear less prominent, you can wear clear labret studs or silicone retainers. Jewelry is available on Etsy and at Hot Topic or Walmart. You can find it at Amazon online, too. Buy from stores with a good reputation, because cheap jewelry is not healthy for piercings.
Fake Monroe Piercings
Monroe lip piercings highlight your facial features well, and give you a unique look. Not everyone is up for the actual piercing, though. You can now buy fake or faux Monroe piercings from beauty and jewelry stores in the UK and the US. They are also found at Walmart and on eBay.
In addition, it’s easy to make your own fake Monroe piercings. Use nail varnish or eyelash glue to glue labret studs or gems above your lip. You can also use different colored magnetic studs to mimic the Monroe look.
Hiding your Monroe Piercing
You can hide your piercings for whatever reason, in places where they will not be met with approval, like work or school. Piercings can be concealed with clear labret retainers or make-up. Here’s how:
- Wash your hands well with antibacterial soap.
- Remove the stud and store it inside a container.
- Use sea salt water to disinfect the clear labret or retainer.
- Put the new bar through the piercing, inside to outside.
A clear marker or Band aid® can also be used to make the piercing jewelry less visible. You can use faux jewelry that can be removed when you need to. Be sure you don’t use make-up on piercings that have not yet healed fully.