Labret Piercing

Woman with lowbret piercing

A labret piercing can be a daring way to change your look.

What's a Labret Piercing?

By its simplest definition, a labret piercing goes in your bottom lip. Although there are many styles of labrets, the procedure is typically performed by piercing from the outer lip to the inside. This piercing is named for the style of body jewelry worn with it: a labret.

A labret stud is composed of three parts:

  • A flat disk back that secures the jewelry from the inside of the lip
  • A shaft or rod that passes through the hole
  • A bead or some other ornamentation visible on the outside of the piercing

Labrets are incredibly popular with body modification fans who want something more avant garde than a traditional ear piercing, although they are rather painful at first.


Of course, once a piercing becomes popular, everyone loves to come up with fresh variations.

Here are just a few.

  • Vertical labret: This piercing goes through the top of the lower lip and comes out again in the skin just below it.
  • Lowbret: This piercing is performed as low as possible in the chin beneath the lower lip.
  • Spider bites: These are a series of three piercings made in the bottom lip.
  • Snake bites: Two piercings are made side-by-side in the bottom lip, reminiscent of snake fangs.
  • Medusa piercing: A labret is inserted between the center ridges of the upper lip.
  • Monroe piercing: This piercing pays homage to Marilyn Monroe's famous beauty mark. The jewelry is placed on the left side of the upper lip.
  • Madonna piercing: This is the same as a Monroe piercing, only on the other side.
  • Crayfish piercing: This is a double version of a Monroe piercing with labrets worn on both sides of the upper lips. If you go with longer barbells, they look a little like the feelers on a crayfish, hence the name.
  • Philtrum piercings: All philtrum piercings are made through the ridges of the upper lip. A horizontal philtrum piercing runs side to side instead of up and down, and works well with barbell jewelry and captive bead rings.
  • Frenulum piercing: This is a piercing of the connective tissue between the upper lip and gums. It's popular name is a "smiley" because you can't see it until the wearer pulls back her lips in a smile, revealing his/her jewelry.

Risks Associated with Labret Piercing

girl with lowbret

Any type of body modification carries some potential health risks, so it's only fair to discuss them. If you're considering getting a labret piercing, you need enough information to make an informed decision.

Tooth Wear

No matter how well your labret was positioned, there's always a chance that the jewelry will rub against your tooth enamel. This can leave divots and chips in your teeth that will eventually begin to decay unless you have them repaired by your dentist.

Check your teeth daily for damage so you can nip any emerging problems in the bud.

Tooth Drift

Tooth drift is another problem sometimes experienced by longtime labret wearers. The pressure of the back of the jewelry against or between the teeth causes erosion of the enamel, and eventually forces the affected teeth out of alignment.Although the teeth can usually be repaired, the alignment of your teeth can only be restored with braces.

Gum/Jaw Damage

If your labret rubs against your gums, they will slowly begin to wear away. When this happens, the roots of your teeth are left exposed and open to decay. If you allow the problem to continue unchecked, the resulting infection may move into your jawbone, causing it to recede. Once this happens your teeth will begin to feel loose in your jaw, and may even fall out.

There's little a dentist can do for you at this point beyond sewing your gums closed. This is just another reason to keep your labret piercing clean and inspect your mouth for damage.


A labret can actually become embedded in your lip if your piercing swells significantly. There are several reasons why this might happen, and some situations are more serious than others.

  • Nearly all labret piercings swell a little right after the procedure is performed. Most piercers will insert a larger sized labret to compensate for this, replacing it with appropriate sized jewelry once the piercing has healed. This is fairly standard for any labret piercing, and any embedding in this situation should be mild and temporary.
  • An inexperienced or unskilled piercer may insert an under-sized labret into a fresh piercing, and this may actually encourage more swelling. If the labret feels snug in the lip immediately after piercing, it's just too small. You always want just enough room for the jewelry to move freely, but not excessively.

If your jewelry does become embedded it's best to remove it and either replace it with a larger piece, or let the piercing heal over and close.


man with labret

A labret piercing normally takes six to eight weeks to heal, barring complications. During this period is very important to keep the site clean.

  • Rinse with saline solution three times a day, especially after eating and brushing your teeth.
  • Avoid mouthwash (especially Listerine) because it can irritate the site.
  • Wash you hands before you clean the area.
  • Avoid touching the area or your jewelry unless absolutely needed.


If you're like a lot of piercing fans, none of the info above is going to dissuade you from getting a labret piercing. Just be sure you go to an experienced professional to have the procedure done, and get in touch with your physician or dentist immediately if you notice any signs of infection or damage.

Labret Piercing