We’ve talked about traditional labrets and vertical labrets, and today it’s time to talk about inverse vertical labrets! Sometimes called an Ashley piercing, although that is a slang term. These are as the name implies the inverse of a vertical labret. A vertical labret sits vertically through the tissue of the lip, entering on the vermillion pink and exiting under the lip line. An inverse is the inverse of that- it exits inside the mouth. This piercing looks like an adorable floating gem on your lip. It’s an incredibly unique look for many, and folks who want something different love this piercing. That said the disc does rest inside the mouth which is an added risk for tooth and gum health, and jewelry choices are more limited. So, lets talk more about the pros and cons with this piercing!
Anatomy, of course!
As always, this is an anatomy dependent piercing. There needs to be enough tissue for us to pierce through and have this piercing be stable, which usually means fuller lips. It’s fairly rare to see someone with thinner lips who is suited for this piercing. The curvature of the lip is also a major factor, as we need jewelry to sit perpendicular to the tissue in order for the outside and inside to rest flat. If they don’t they can cause issues when eating and drinking, and with rubbing on your teeth and gums.
The anatomy and structure of your jaw also plays a role here. Since this piercing sits on the lip line it also rests higher inside the mouth, meaning more risk of it contacting your teeth and gums. The shape of your front teeth and gums, and your bite, will play a role on if you can get this piercing, and if you can how things will lay on the inside and the risk to your teeth and gums. With great anatomy, careful placement, and well fitted jewelry however, the risk to teeth and gums is much lesser. Braces obviously would not be compatible with this piercing as it could easily rub and snag on brackets and wires, so this is not a safe piercing if you currently have braces.
Swell days ahead
Like most oral piercings, inverse vertical labrets will have a fair amount of swelling after they are first pierced. These piercings pass entirely through the vermillion of the lip line, meaning all the movement when you talk, eat, and drink is moving and keeping the piercing more swollen. Because of this, a rather long barbell is used for initial piercing. This bar can be quite annoying, and more concerning, will rub on your teeth and gums due to its length and the higher placement inside your mouth. The time period between initial piercing and final downsize is the most risky for your teeth and gums since the bar will be longer and will be able to rub. This is why it’s incredibly important to work closely with your piercer to downsize as soon as things are ready. It’s also important to be cautious when you eat and drink and try to be very gentle till things are downsized.
Virtually every oral piercings carries a risk toward your teeth and gums, but inverse vertical labrets do carry a slightly higher one because of how high on the teeth they rest on the inside of the mouth. This is something your piercer should discuss with you, and the importance of regular downsizing and communication should be stressed.
Much like vertical labrets, thanks to this swelling chapped lips are very common with inverse vertical labrets. However, any chapstick, balm, or lipstick can irritate the piercings so those things should not be worn for the entire healing time, usually 4-6 months. The best way to help with the chapping is to stay very well hydrated, drink lots of water. And try not to pick at any chapped or dead skin, as that will make it worse.
A note on sizing
As mentioned jewelry sizing and fit is incredibly important to minimize irritation to your teeth and gums with this piercing. Jewelry that is too long or doesn’t rest flat on the inside and outside of the lip can cause damage to your teeth and gums and discomfort when eating. For most folks, a curved barbell is going to be the perfect shape for them. For a very small group of clients, a straight barbell may be perfect. This anatomy is far less common then curved barbell anatomy however. And due to the high movement nature of this area most folks find 14g jewelry to be more stable and comfortable. Some still may wear 16g comfortably, but often the amount of movement from talking and eating lends its self better to a slight thicker bar. You can learn more about why here.
This placement puts jewelry very directly in contact with food and drink. That often means its a lot easier for decorative ends to get dirty or built up. Cabochon gems ends and simple metal pieces are the easiest to clean, with prong settings and open gems being the most difficult. That said a small gem is one of the most popular styles for this piercing, and can be worn. You’ll just want to stay on top of keeping it clean, and some clients keep travel toothbrush on them and pop in the bathroom to brush any food debris from the jewelry after eating when they wear more decorative pieces.
Since the initial piercing has a fair amount of swelling the jewelry on the front will need to be larger for healing. Many clients are disappointed in this, but something too small could sink into the lip and if its’ snagged, even pull through. The tissue of the lip is very soft and stretches very easily, so healing is much easier with something slightly larger on the front. Even after well healed a good bite or snag could pull a small gem in, and you may need to swap to a larger piece and let the lip recover.
Since this piecing passes through the lip entirely where filler would go, this can not be done with any active filler. If it is, you risk filler migration which can disfigure your lip and require expensive dissolving and correction. Ideally, you should get this piercing before ever having filler. If you already have filler, you’ll need to wait well past the end of your filler cycle, possibly have filler dissolved, and then get pierced.
Once this piercing is well healed you can get filler again, but you’ll need to find an injector who is VERY experienced working around piercings. It’s not uncommon for filler to cause this piercing to shift in how it sits and end up crooked or uneven. Not only is that not the look you want, but it could risk your teeth and gums further. Filler and inverse vertical labrets need to be handled with the upmost care!
Inverse vertical labrets are very cute, very unique lip piercings! They look unlike anything else, and give the effect of a gem floating magically on your lip. That said they are also more anatomy dependent then other piercings, and carry a higher risk to your teeth and gums then a traditional labret or vertical labret. Those risks should be considered going into piercing, and you should understand what you are signing up for! That said, if you have the anatomy for this piercing, and are ready to be very careful during healing, I think these are very unique, very fun piercings!