Many lips piercings have become hugely popular in recent years, but the one that seems to stand out more than all of them is the Monroe piercing – not least due to the reasoning behind the name; Marilyn Monroe herself.
You may be wondering why the piercing is named after the beautiful and super-famous model and actress, but you shouldn’t have to look at a picture of her face for long to figure out why.
Thanks to Marilyn Monroe, this has become one of the most popular facial piercings of all-time across swathes of the world.
What Is A Monroe Piercing?
The Monroe piercing is a perforation made above the upper-left side of the top lip, to match the approximate location where the famous beauty spot appeared on the face of Marilyn Monroe.
While the Monroe is usually regarded as a lip piercing, the lip isn’t actually pierced at all.
While the piercing was initially made popular by the famous American, there is also another reason why it’s such a well-loved piece of facial art – the versatility of it.
Monroe piercings can not only look great and striking on their own, but they can also supplement other close-by piercings extremely well too (such as labret piercings, medusa piercings, spider bites and even smiley piercings).
Although a substantial percentage of people who get the Marilyn Monroe piercing are women, the piercing is starting to become slightly more popular among with men, who instead of opting for a bead, tend to go for more masculine jewelry such as spikes or other bold shapes.
Regarding the setup – a Monroe piercing usually comes in three sections:
The Bead – The visible frontal part of the jewelry
The Disk – The back section of the jewelry which holds the piercing in place
The Barbell – The rod that slides through the hole in the skin and connects the bead to the disk
While the most common type of Monroe piercing is the single, left-sided perforation above the upper lip as mentioned above, there are many variations of this piercing, of which the more commons ones are:
The Madonna piercing is exactly the same as the Monroe, except it sits to the right-hand side of the upper lip instead of the usual left.
Double Monroe Piercing
This term is usually used when somebody has both a Monroe piercing and also a Madonna at the same time (one on each side over the upper lip).
However, some people also sometimes have two Monroe piercings sitting tightly next to each other and commonly call this a double Monroe piercing also.
Reverse / Bottom Monroe Piercing
This piercing is also placed on the left-hand side like the standard Monroe, except it’s situated below the bottom lip instead of above the top lip.
What Happens During A Monroe Piercing?
Although the Monroe piercing looks relatively straightforward and simple to create, the piercer still needs to be experienced enough to insert the needle and exactly the right location.
Not only is this in order to achieve the classic Monroe look, but also to prevent common lip and mouth piercing issues such as gum damage and enamel erosion.
As for the actual piercing procedure itself, it should all be over and done with in a very short amount of time (usually under 10 seconds).
To start with, the piercer will clean and disinfect the upper lip area before marking out the exact needle entry and exit points.
Once this has been done, the piercer will use a clamp to gently pull your upper lip away from your teeth and gums before proceeding to pass an extremely sharp hollow needle through the skin quickly and smoothly.
Once the needle has entered into the skin and exited out of the inner mouth area, it is then removed before a barbell is pushed into position and fastened into place.
Once the procedure is complete, your piercer will likely give you an aftercare facts sheet that will contain instructions on how to properly look after the piercing during the initial (and crucial) healing stages.
Monroe Piercing Pain – How Much Does It Hurt?
While the Monroe piercing certainly the most painful piercing you could have done, it will likely still sting slightly during the procedure.
This is because the inner lip area contains lots of sensitive nerve endings, and some of these endings are going to be hit by the needle as it makes its initial pass through the skin.
Generally, those with thicker lips or more musculature around the area will tend to feel slightly more pain as the needle has more tissue to pass through before reaching the other side.
Toughened outer skin (usually due to years of frequent shaving) can also make it slightly harder for the needle to pass through and therefore this can make the procedure a little bit more painful.
However, it’s important to understand that the whole process is over extremely quickly, and while you may feel quite an intense sting for one or two seconds, this pain should die down almost instantly once the needle has finished perforating the skin.
You should also be aware that you will likely experience a small amount of pain of the next few days as a natural healing response to the damage caused to the area.
Along with small amounts of pain over the coming days, you will also probably experience slight swelling and possibly bruising around the area of the piercing. This is nothing to worry about and is just your body’s method of healing.
Be very careful when eating, drinking as the piercing will likely feel tender to the touch for up to a week afterward.
Don’t worry if there is a small amount of blood during or after the procedure as this is again, very normal and the bleeding should stop after a very short while.
Finally, remember that everybody’s pain thresholds are different. Don’t be put off if somebody you know has had the procedure done previously and has said it’s excruciating.
To another person, the exact same procedure may not hurt them in the slightest! Therefore try not to be put off by others and remember how quickly the whole experience will be over.
How Much Does A Monroe Piercing Cost?
As with all types of piercings, Monroe piercing prices can vary a lot depending on a few factors such as how experienced the piercer is, where the piercing shop is based, and how high quality the initial piece of jewelry will be.
However, the consensus is that most Monroe piercings will fall within the $30-$70 price range (taking into consideration the factors mentioned above).
What To Do Before Getting A Monroe Piercing
To be sure that the piercing turns out exactly how you want it to, it’s important to make sure that you prepare yourself appropriately before stepping foot into the shop.
First off, it’s vital that you start a rigorous oral hygiene regime in the week leading up to your piercing appointment. This is because your mouth is home to billions of bacteria that could quite easily cause an infection in your new piercing if you’re not careful.
For this reason, you’ll want to make sure you keep your mouth as clean as you can leading up to the day of the piercing.
To keep bacteria numbers down within your mouth you will want to focus on brushing your teeth, gum-line and tongue at least twice-daily and after meals/sugary snacks, focusing on the areas closest to where the piercing will be inserted.
On top of brushing, it’s also important to both floss and rinse your mouth with an antibacterial wash to ensure you remove as many germs and food particles (that the germs feed on) as possible.
Monroe Piercing Aftercare Advice
The days/weeks following on from your Monroe piercing procedure are extremely important and can be make or break when it comes to how good your piercing is going to look for the rest of its life.
This period is the most vital because these times are when the wound and piercing are at their most delicate and vulnerable.
You should do as best as you possibly can to make sure that you take great care in looking after your new piercing until it has completely healed (the point in which the skin inside of the hole has finished reshaping and regenerating.
While you may think that looking after a new piercing is quite a simple job, there are several significant steps to take to ensure your piercing doesn’t get scarred, infected or otherwise damaged:
Don’t Constantly Touch Or Play Around With Your Piercing
You should try as best as you possibly can to make sure that your and any other objects refrain from touching your new piercing.
Not only will constant pressing and prodding interfere with the healing process, but your hands will have the potential to transfer lots of harmful bacteria over to your open skin wound, even if they look clean.
Just as important is ensuring you don’t frequently poke and prod the inside of the piercing using your tongue. It may be hard, but try to resist the urge to do this as best as you can.
Don’t Take The Original Stud Until Instructed
It’s important to keep the original stud in until the Monroe piercing has finished healing.
Taking the stud out prematurely can not only cause irritation, but it will also create a larger area for bacteria to enter, increasing the chances of infection and delaying healing times.
Along with these reasons, you could also potentially cause even more damage by accidentally poking the wound with the point of the barbell when trying to remove it from the hole.
Avoid Drinking Alcohol Or Using It To Clean The Piercing Wound
Alcohol is an incredibly harsh chemical and can cause significant irritation and damage to healing wound if not careful, as well as drying out the healing tissue, which will likely delay the time it takes for the skin to close up fully.
Therefore, you should refrain from drinking alcohol for at least two weeks after the procedure, or until you are sure the wound has fully healed.
Also, please refrain from utilizing alcohol to clean/disinfect the wound. Instead, you should incorporate a more delicate cleaning routine, such as the one mentioned in the ‘cleaning’ section of this article below.
Avoid Smoking Or Using Any Other Form Of Tobacco Product
Smoking (and using tobacco in general) is not only massively damaging to your general health, but it can also cause all sorts of damage/death to cells surrounding a wound, especially in areas as delicate as the inner mouth/lips).
For this reason, it’s strongly advised to refrain from smoking or using any tobacco product until the wound has completely closed up.
Don’t Eat Spicy Food
Spicy food can burn and irritate the pierced area while it’s in the healing phase, and cause other side-effects around the wound such as redness, itchiness and rash outbreaks.
You should try to prevent any spicy products from touching the area of the piercing, and remember to wash your hands very well if you happen to ever handle anything spicy will your Monroe piercing is still healing.
Eat And Chew Carefully
Having a new piercing around the lips and mouth can take a little while to get used to; especially when it comes to eating and drinking.
To compensate for a new piece of metal pushed through the front of your face, you should ensure that you eat and drink very slowly and carefully to make sure that you don’t accidentally bite down on the piercing and cause even more damage to an already delicate wound.
Avoid Rubbing Harsh Chemicals/Product Over The Piercing
Many makeup products, creams, and cosmetics contain ingredients that can irritate your new piercing, and therefore you should be careful to make sure you don’t smother the area with these potentially damaging products.
Likewise, sun tanning lotions are also generally quite unforgiving on new skin wounds, and therefore you should try to keep it away from your piercing for a week or two.
This means if you’re heading outside into the sun for prolonged periods you should try to keep the lower half of your face in the shade as best as possible, as UV rays from the sun can also cause damage to a healing wound.
A good way to ensure your piercing heals as best as possible is to use a specialized piercing aftercare product, as these generally only contain ingredients that are guaranteed to have a positive effect during the healing stages.
Cleaning The Outer-Lip
The most important factor to remember when cleaning a Monroe piercing is to not use any kind of product on the area that is going to irritate or otherwise harm the healing of the wound.
This means you should not attempt to clean the area with any harsh products, ingredients, or chemicals.
Products containing artificial scents are colorings are generally not a good choice as these added artificial ingredients have been known to cause problems with healing skin (such as itching, burning, and rashes).
Instead, it’s always best to use natural ingredients to clean the outer area of the piercing.
An excellent way to gently clean your outer piercing is to use a lukewarm salt/saline solution, applied over the area using a Q-tip or cotton ball.
If your piercing has become slightly swollen, a chilled salt solution can be used instead to help soothe the swelling and reduce the pain slightly too.
Concerning how often you should clean your Monroe piercing; you should carry out this routine every morning and night, and at any point in the day where you believe the piercing may have come into contact with something dirty or harmful.
Cleaning The Inner-Mouth Area Of The Piercing
Simply put, you should just try to keep the inside of your mouth as clean as possible until the piercing has finished healing.
However, you must try not to use anything too harsh (such as alcohol-based mouthwash), which could cause further damage to the area.
You should continue to brush your teeth like normal (don’t forget the tongue), but be extra-careful when brushing close to the site of the piercing. Try to brush after every meal and sugary snack/drink to keep bacteria numbers as small as possible.
A soft-bristled brush along with a mild, unflavored toothpaste is the perfect combination for the first week or two of healing.
In addition to brushing, it’s also advantageous to swill a salt solution around your mouth at least twice a day to help keep the inner part of the piercing as sterile as possible.
Try not to use any commercial mouthwashes for the first couple of weeks as these frequently contain ingredients that can be quite harsh to the wound.
Finally, floss regularly to help remove any trapped particles of food which could potentially contribute to increased bacterial growth.
How Long Does a Monroe Piercing Take To Heal?
A Monroe piercing typically takes between 6-10 weeks to heal, although the tissue within the piercing tunnel can take up to 9 months until it fully regenerates and forms a wall of scar tissue to keep the innermost tissue fully protected.
For this reason, you should maintain good hygiene around the piercing (both inside and out) for as long as you can. The longer you take care of the piercing, the more likely it’s going to be able to remain unscathed in the long-term.
You must also note the timescales mentioned above are just averages, and your own piercing may heal faster or slower than specified depending on you well you look after it, and how effective you body’s general healing capabilities are.
Getting good rest, eating well, exercising frequently, and remaining hydrated all help to ensure you’re in the best position to heal your piercing as efficiently as possible.
Monroe Piercing Infections
Although infected Monroe piercings are relatively uncommon, they can occur if the wound gets exposed to harmful bacteria, and this is why it’s so important to look after the piercing until it has fully healed.
While there are many symptoms of an infected Monroe piercing, the ones listed below are the most common.
Common symptoms include:
Redness that doesn’t disappear or begins to get gradually worse.
Swelling that doesn’t disappear or starts to affect talking, eating, and drinking
Severe pain or burning – only mild pain should be experienced after a labret piercing
Severe rashes around the site of the piercing (including oozing and crusty scabbing)
Extreme itchiness around the site of the wound
Please remember that seeing the symptoms above on your own piercing does not mean it’s infected.
Most piercings will display mild versions of most of these symptoms throughout the aftercare phase as a natural healing response from your body.
However, if the symptoms (or any other severe symptoms not listed above) begin to get worse instead of better after 7-10 days, you should think about getting the piercing checked by a doctor to make sure everything is okay.
Monroe Piercing Risks
As with all types of body piercings, Monroe piercings do come with an element of risk. Below are the most common issues that can arise after getting a Monroe piercing:
Tooth Wear – Over time, the disk in the mouth can sometimes cause parts of the close-by teeth to wear down due to constant friction and rubbing.
Tooth wear may never happen to you, or it may be very mild, but it can also be quite profound and noticeable if you don’t take action once you’ve noticed the piercing is rubbing against your teeth.
Gum Erosion – As with tooth wear, gum erosion happens due to constant rubbing, except this issue arises when the disk rubs against the gums instead of the teeth.
Gum erosion can be hard to spot at first as the effects may be very subtle, but over time you will likely notice that more and more of the roots of your teeth are becoming exposed.
Embedding – Embedding usually occurs when a (usually inexperienced) piercer inserts a barbell into your new piercing that is too short.
When a barbel is too short, any normal swelling that may occur after the procedure can cause the surrounding tissue to tighten around the jewelry, causing the studs and disks to become embedding tight against the skin, potentially causing additional damage to the wound, along with possible bruising and soreness.
For this reason, most piercing professionals will usually add an initial barbell that is slightly longer than necessary to accommodate for any additional swelling that may occur.
Monroe Piercing Jewelry
For most Money piercing, a labret stud is normally used, as the sizes are very often perfect for what each customer is wanting.
Labret & Monroe studs are available in all shapes and sizes, and you can even buy studs that are entirely clear, or made of tiny pieces of silicon if you wanted to make the piercing somewhat more obscure.
Monroe piercing jewelry is available in a range of lengths and thicknesses, and if you’re not quite sure which size to go for then a good starting point for most Monroe piercings is either a 14, 16 or 18 gauge, with a length of either 5/16” or 3/8”.
However, if you don’t wish to make an incorrect decision, then any professional piercing shop you visit should be able to help with your choice
All types and variations of Monroe piercing can look hugely striking if done properly, and due to the huge amounts of jewelry available, you will no-doubt find something that suits your own personal style.
By making sure you take care of your piercing as best as you possibly can throughout the initial and important healing phase, you can be sure your piercing turns out as amazing as you always expected it to be.