Everything To Know Before Getting A Snake Eyes Piercing

If you tend to stay on top of piercing trends, you've likely heard of the snake eyes piercing by now. This popular piercing typically features a barbell that's pierced horizontally through your tongue, and it's easy to see where it got its name, given the snake-like appearance that the ball ends give your tongue. Don't get this piercing style confused with the also-popular snake bite piercing, though, which goes through your lips rather than your tongue. 

Have you been considering a snake eyes piercing? While it definitely looks cool and is very on-trend, this piercing is a horizontal tongue piercing, so it can pose risks that other tongue piercings don't. As it's a higher-risk piercing, you'll probably want to know everything about it before you schedule your appointment at your local piercing parlor.

Aside from a healing process that can come with complications, you may also find you encounter some obstacles when trying to get a snake eyes piercing, even down to finding a piercer who will do one for you. Before pulling the trigger on getting a snake eyes piercing, make sure you're well aware of everything involved in the process, from prepping for your piercing appointment to aftercare and even the possible risks of this trendy piercing.

Know how to prep for your snake eyes piercing

If you're even remotely thinking about getting a snake eyes piercing, you'll want to start preparing now. Do plenty of research before you get a tongue piercing, especially a snake eyes piercing. It's not one you'll want to get on a whim, as there can be major complications afterward. If you've decided the piercing is worth getting, it's a good idea to take your time shopping around for piercers. Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, told Byrdie about what to look out for when getting a piercing, saying, "It is important to find a piercing studio that is clean, uses sterile tools, and takes proper care when performing piercings."

You've decided to go ahead and get a snake eyes piercing and you've selected a safe, reputable studio — time to prep to get pierced! Check with your studio to see if they provide aftercare materials. If they don't, Authority Tattoo recommends you pick up some sea salt (or an alcohol-free mouthwash) on the day of your appointment so that you're ready to clean your piercing right away. Your piercer should take care of cleaning your tongue before the process. 

Piercing material matters

One of the most exciting parts of getting a new piercing is choosing which jewelry you want to get pierced with. You're probably thinking about aesthetics first and foremost, but before you pick the jewelry you think will look the coolest, take the material into account. According to Healthline, you should look for jewelry made from one of the following when you get a tongue piercing: surgical steel, titanium, 14-karat gold (or higher), niobium, or biocompatible plastics. They even suggest that biocompatible plastics may be the best choice for tongue piercings, since the friction from biocompatible plastic isn't as likely to cause tooth chipping and gum damage. They also advise to stay away from surgical steel if you're allergic to nickel. 

You may be encouraged to pick a longer barbell when you're initially getting your tongue pierced. Professional piercer Brit Shostack told Nylon, "Your piercer will be using a longer length barbell than what you will wear long-term — and for good reason. Swelling associated with tongue piercings can get pretty wild .... Once the swelling does go down, it's super important to return to your piercer to have a new shortened barbell installed for the remainder of your piercing's time with you."

Does a snake eyes piercing hurt?

It's common knowledge that pretty much any piercing will hurt at least a little — after all, you are poking a needle through your skin. However, some piercing locations hurt more than others. Genital piercings (including nipple piercings) rank understandably high on the pain scale, as do some dermal piercing locations. A tongue piercing, on the other hand, comes in on the lower end of the pain spectrum, along with nose and ear piercings. 

In terms of tongue piercings in general, though, a snake eyes piercing is one of the most painful ones you can get,  though probably not unbearable. A piercing that goes vertically through your tongue, on the other hand, tends to hurt less because it isn't hitting as many nerve endings. You'll also want to remember that even though the piercing process may not be off-the-charts painful, the healing process can be, especially if you end up developing an infection. TikTok user bazizipho_poswa said in one video, "My fourth day was horrible! The pain woke me up at 6am ? Im (sic) even moaning because of the pain." 

The aftercare process of a snake eyes piercing

As a tongue piercing, it's especially important you take care of your snake eyes piercing after leaving your piercer. Piercing Models gives some helpful guidelines to follow regarding aftercare. First, you'll want to take all precautions necessary to avoid bacteria coming into contact with your new piercing. Avoid any practices that may introduce bacteria to the piercing site, and yes, this includes kissing, oral sex, and touching your piercing with your hands.

You should also rinse out your mouth after eating. The Association of Professional Piercers recommends a mouthwash that's alcohol- and hydrogen peroxide-free, as well as bottled water. A sterile saline solution is best for cleaning the outside of your mouth, per the APP. While they don't recommend DIY salt solutions, in a pinch, you can create your own sea salt rinse by mixing ⅛ – ¼ teaspoon of sea salt with one cup of water. 

Additionally, Miami Jewelry Co. advises that you may need to say goodbye to some of your favorite things while your snake eyes piercing heals. Alcohol is a big no-no, as is smoking, and if you're a fan of spicy foods, prepare yourself to be deprived for about two months. Speaking of foods, it's best to stick to soft, bland foods while your piercing heals. Stay away from anything crunchy or crispy, as these could irritate your piercing.

How long do they take to heal?

Before you get your snake eyes piercing, don't be fooled into thinking the healing process is short and sweet. You'll need to cater to your piercing until it heals, which typically takes around two months (and possibly longer), according to Chronic Ink Tattoo. Soon after you get your piercing, you might notice some swelling, tenderness, and pain on your tongue. Per Piercee, you can mitigate these effects by taking ibuprofen or placing some (clean!) ice at the piercing site. They also say that while swelling and tenderness aren't necessarily a sign of infection, they can be — if your pain levels are high or the swelling seems excessive, it could indicate a problem.

You may also encounter more minor complications during the healing process. Keloids — solid, round, raised scars which are fairly common to new piercings – can happen with snake eyes piercings as well, according to Stigma Ink Tattoo (though the AAD notes that it's rarer to see a keloid on the tongue). If you do get one with your tongue piercing, you'll likely need professional help to treat your keloid. Once your piercing is fully healed, you can change out the barbell if you'd like, and Pierceesays you may want to choose a smaller size if you're concerned about tooth and gum damage. Don't want to change your piercing jewelry yourself? Head back to the salon where you got your piercing, and they should be happy to change your jewelry for you (although they may charge a nominal fee). 

Cost of a snake eyes piercing

As with any other piercings or body modifications, a snake eyes piercing is going to take a little chunk of change out of your wallet. There are a few factors that can change how much your snake eyes piercing costs. Remember that you're often paying for quality care as well as experience, so don't shy away from a higher price tag, especially for this type of piercing. Experienced piercers will often charge more, and because a snake eyes piercing can be one of the riskier body modifications to get, we think it's best to pay the big bucks for an experienced professional. 

Your piercing price tag can also vary based on which barbell you pick. While a niobium barbell may be as cheap as $6, more expensive materials (such as gold) could have a base price as high as $80. Other factors, like the location of the shop, could affect the price of your snake eyes piercing as well. That said, it's reasonable to expect that your total piercing price will be somewhere in the range of $40 to $100.

Risks of getting a snake eyes piercing

Aside from the risks of infection and other problems that you can face when you get a piercing of any kind, the snake eyes piercing poses some unique risks due to the location and nature of the piercing. Your tongue is made up of two muscles, and when you pierce them together horizontally, you're essentially tying them together. Chronic Ink Tattoo says that this can keep them from moving independently of one another, possibly leading to a lisp and even problems eating. 

Aside from that, the two ball ends on your barbell will constantly be clacking against your teeth and rubbing your gums. Professional piercer T.J. Cantwell told Bustle about the risks this placement poses, saying, "The jewelry itself sits on the back of the teeth. It is almost guaranteed that the client will see gum erosion, cracking/chipping of the teeth, and migration/rejection of the piercing leaving a nasty looking scar." All of these could cause long-term problems, so it's important to weigh the risks against the attractive appearance before you pull the trigger on getting this piercing. 

Some piercers won't do a snake eyes piercing

Maybe you're in the process of shopping around for a piercer to do your snake eyes piercing, but you're having a little trouble finding one — in fact, many piercing studios you call say they don't do this piercing on principle. This is because of the myriad risks associated with a snake eyes piercing, some of which can cause permanent, lifelong damage. If you're sure you want a snake eyes piercing, once you find a piercer who will perform it, ask for testimonials from prior clients and talk to your piercer extensively about the risks before you get pierced. 

Master Pierce has even "taken a stance against" the snake eyes piercing trend, calling it a risky "fad piercing." They cite multiple risks associated with the piercing as reasons for not performing it, even suggesting that over time the tongue "will force out the curved barbell as a foreign object." Aside from the medical risks associated with getting a snake eyes piercing, Master Pierce also suggests it's not worth getting a piercing that will go out of style, saying: "Usually, a fad piercing is very short lived in popularity. Traditional piercings are tried and true, and they have lasted in the industry because of that fact. While we are certain, the snake eyes piercing will cycle its way back to the top of the list again, Master Pierce will not be a party to it."

Standard tongue piercings may pose fewer risks

If you're dead set on getting a tongue piercing but the risks just seem too high, we get it. The good news is that not all tongue piercings pose the same risks that a snake eyes piercing does. A vertical tongue piercing may be a safer choice. As a bonus, it can take less time to heal — as little as four weeks, per Medical News Today, compared to the average snake eyes piercing healing period of eight weeks. In fact, professional piercer Lynn Loheide told Allure, "After about a week, the swelling will go down, and then the rest of the healing process is pretty easy."

Stigma Ink Tattoo also says that a vertical tongue piercing is considered to be safer than a snake eyes piercing because it allows your tongue muscles to move independently of one another. This mitigates many of the problems that can come with a horizontal tongue piercing, like the risk of developing a lisp. It's also notable that a vertical tongue piercing is less likely to come into contact with your teeth due to its location, reducing your risk of chipped teeth over time. 

An alternate piercing can achieve a similar effect

Okay, we get it. You've read about the risks of getting a snake eyes piercing, but they look so darn cool that you still want one. Before you officially decide to get a snake eyes piercing, let us pose an alternative. What if you could get a similar (yes, not exactly the same, but similar) look without nearly as many of the risks involved? A venom piercing offers just that. Plus, it'll likely be far easier to find a piercer willing to do this piercing. 

When you get a venom piercing, two barbells get pierced vertically through either of your tongue muscles and sit on the surface of your tongue. Professional piercer Scott Wilkinson does note, however, that a venom piercing "Is gonna stay swollen quite a bit longer than the typical piercing because of the amount of muscle tissue you're actually going through." Though your venom piercing won't be in the center of your tongue, its positioning still makes it less likely for tooth chipping to occur due to the jewelry coming into contact with your teeth. If you've wanted a snake eyes piercing but the risks are giving you some hesitation, a venom piercing is a great alternative to get you a similar look.

Watch for signs of infection post-piercing

If you still decide to move ahead with a snake eyes piercing, the last thing you'll want to deal with is infection during the healing process. Taking good care of your piercing during the healing process can seriously mitigate the risk of infection. You'll also want to keep up with your oral health in general by regularly brushing and flossing your teeth, taking care to avoid coming into contact with your piercing. Even the most diligent with their oral health could still face an infection, though, and mouth infections can be dangerous. In fact, Authority Tattoo says that "infections in the tongue are more dangerous than they are for other piercing locations, like your earlobe. Infections are more apt to spread when they're located on the tongue."

Authority Tattoo lists several possible signs of tongue piercing infection to be on the lookout for during your healing process. These include some obvious ones, such as pain and swelling (though slight pain and swelling are normal in the first week after getting pierced), and some not-so-obvious ones, like excessive redness. You'll also want to be on the lookout for any discoloration. Any abnormal coloration, including bright redness, could indicate infection and should have you going to a doctor ASAP to treat your infected piercing. Per Authority Tattoo, "If you can make it through those first two months until your piercing is fully healed without getting an infection, you're probably in the clear."