Illustrated Guide to Tongue Piercings
Despite the long-standing myth that you might bleed to death if the piercer hits a certain vein, tongue piercing are very common and quite popular. (While there is a blood vessel in your tongue that can cause excess bleeding if punctured, it's unlikely to kill you). When we think of a tongue piercing, we probably conjure up an image of a single barbell inserted through the middle of the tongue, front and center. Aside from the standard tongue piercing, however, there are about half a dozen other types available.
Standard Tongue PiercingClick thumbnail to view full-size
Double Center Tongue Piercings
A frequently seen variation of the single, center piercing is the same piercing in duplicate or triplicate. A "double center," sometimes called a second tongue piercing, is pretty common and features two barbells in the center of the tongue, one behind the other.
For those who don't care about symmetry, there's the "off-center tongue" piercing. Sometimes called a "sublim" or a "venom" (pluralized into venoms or "snakebites" if there's one on each side), an off-center tongue piercing is more complicated than the standard on because the muscle tissue is thicker on the sides. Some people say that venoms hurt more, while others report feeling no difference.
Beforehand, the piercer must take into account the size of your mouth, how close your teeth crowd together and how far back the webbing under your tongue recedes to determine whether or not an off-center tongue piercing will fit comfortably in your mouth.
Then, of course, there's a combination of any of the above, such as a double off-center and a double center, resulting in four separate piercings that form a diamond shape in the middle of the tongue.
Horizontal Tongue Piercing
Not to be confused with venoms, a horizontal tongue piercing looks as though it is two separate barbells but in actuality it is just one barbell pierced horizontally through the tongue.
A frenulum piercing is a hoop or barbell that is pierced through the small flap of webbing underneath the tongue that connects it to the mouth. Not everyone is a candidate for this type of piercing as the web may be too small or too thin to safely wear jewelry. Your piercer will let you know whether or not a frenulum piercing is for you.
Frenulum PiercingsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Gauged Tongue Piercings
A common modification in the piercing world is stretching or gauging. These piercings are done with a standard-sized needle: 20- or 18-gauge for ears, 14-gauge for tongue, etc. Due to skin elasticity, most piercings can be gradually stretched over time to eventually hold thicker jewelry at a lower gauge. Tongues are no exception. Gauging is done by gradually upgrading the size of the jewelry little by little, coaxing the hole to fit larger jewelry until you have achieved the desired size.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.