Summary

Most women who undergo nipple areola reconstruction also choose to have a tattooing procedure to provide a natural color to the reconstructed nipple.

Tattooing alone can provide the appearance of a three-dimensional nipple areola for some patients who are hesitant to undergo nipple areola reconstruction. Tattooing is also an excellent option for patients who may not be ideal candidates for nipple reconstruction, such as those with thin or radiated breast skin.

Regardless of whether tattooing is done alone or in the setting of prior nipple areola reconstruction, it may be necessary to have more than one tattooing session to maximize the quality of the outcome.

At NYBRA Plastic Surgery, our surgeons have performed thousands of nipple areola tattoo procedures. We also work closely with a tattoo artist in our office to get you the best possible outcome.

Types of procedures

  • Tattooing the reconstructed nipple areola: Once the reconstructed nipple has healed, tattooing can add a natural color.
  • Three-dimensional nipple areola tattoo: This can result in the appearance of a realistic nipple areola in patients who do not have a reconstructed nipple.

Procedure details

  • Nipple areola tattooing is an office procedure
  • Markings are made on the reconstructed breast for the nipple areola tattoo
  • If needed, local anesthetic cream can be applied or a local anesthetic can be injected into the skin
  • When tattooing is needed only on one side, we can mix pigments so that the tattoo closely matches your existing nipple areola color
  • For bilateral nipple areola tattooing, we can create the appropriate natural color based on your pre-mastectomy photos, or we can mix pigments to create a color that nicely complements your skin tone
  • During the procedure, the tattoo pigment is injected underneath the skin with the tattooing instrument, which has tiny reciprocating needles
  • Additional nipple areola tattooing sessions can be used to achieve the desired color

Risks & Benefits

Nipple areola tattooing is an office procedure with minimal risk and minimal downtime for recovery. After tattooing, we recommend that patients apply a topical ointment and protective dressing once or twice a day to help with healing and to avoid infection. Over the course of several weeks, the tattoo will heal completely, revealing the true color. Overall, nipple areola tattooing is a simple and effective procedure that can help get you over the final hurdle of your breast reconstruction.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the nipple areola tattoo procedure painful?

Whether you have undergone implant reconstruction or natural issue reconstruction, it is possible to regain some degree of sensation in the breast. A local anesthetic can be provided prior to the nipple areola tattooing session if desired, however many patients proceed without any local anesthesia. The overall effect is a sensation of pushing and vibration against the reconstructed breast.