What is nipple tattooing?
Women who undergo a mastectomy as a part of breast cancer treatment also have the option of reconstructive surgery. Reconstruction rebuilds the shape of the breast but does not typically restore the appearance of the nipple. As a final stage of reconstruction, many women consider nipple reconstruction surgery. Three-dimensional nipple tattooing has recently become a popular alternative to an additional surgical procedure.
3D nipple tattooing is a reconstructive method that restores the realistic appearance of a nipple and areola. The technique relies on shading and ink placement to add visual realism to the breast. Tattooed nipples are not palpable; they are flat to the touch. However, they recreate a natural look that patients appreciate without additional procedures and scars.
What are the benefits of 3D nipple tattooing?
A 3D nipple tattoo offers the breast cancer survivor a fresh start. The careful application of color restores realism to the overall outcome of breast reconstruction. Using just ink, Dr. Ferrauiola recreates the natural focal point to the breast mound as a finishing touch to the reconstructive journey. Benefits of 3D nipple tattoos include:
- Closes the circle of recovery and restores a sense of wholeness
- No additional surgery is needed
- Tattooing can camouflage scars on the breasts
- Can correct faded or irregular areola pigmentation
Who is a good candidate for nipple tattooing?
Just like breast reconstruction, 3D nipple tattooing is a restorative procedure that is a matter of preference. Not every woman who undergoes breast reconstruction extends her journey to nipple tattooing, but more and more are interested in having the focal point of the breast restored with minimal downtime. Most patients are good candidates for this restorative treatment. Most patients are great candidates for this though aspects such as tissue damage due to radiation and overall skin quality on the breast need to be taken into account.
Nipple tattooing can be performed once the patient is well-healed after their final reconstruction procedure. This often occurs several months after the last surgery.
Reconstructive nipple tattooing is performed in the medical office or as an outpatient with local anesthesia if needed. A bilateral tattooing session should take approximately an hour. The downtime is minimal.
Patients have a consultation with the medical tattoo artist to discuss placement, size, and pigment colors. The tattoo artist will observe the breast for skin thickness, scar pattern, and other variables to determine the most appropriate way to proceed with treatment.
The nipple tattooing treatment
On procedure day, patients should arrive with clean skin. No moisturizer or numbing agents should be applied before nipple tattooing.
A loose shirt that opens in the front should be worn to the appointment. A hospital gown may be provided as an alternative.
Patients should have a bra or camisole to wear after treatment to help hold dressings in place.
Before beginning the tattoo, the aesthetician will clean and disinfect the skin. The placement, size, and pigment discussed during the consultation will be reviewed and approved by the patient.
How Long Does a Nipple Tattooing Treatment Take?
The entire process can take a few hours, but tattooing typically takes only 15 to 30 minutes per breast.
Is nipple tattooing painful?
It is not uncommon for breast numbness to linger after a mastectomy due to the cutting of nerve endings. This effect alleviates the potential discomfort of nipple tattooing. The insertion of breast implants can also diminish nerve sensation, so most women experience little if any pain during their tattoo treatment.
After completing the tattoo, the aesthetician applies a bandage. Skin heals in a week to 10 days, during which mild flaking or scabbing may occur. Patients receive specific aftercare instructions to ensure proper healing.
What results can nipple tattooing achieve?
3D nipple tattooing achieves lifelike results that enable a woman to regain her full sense of confidence and femininity after breast reconstruction. The nipples once again serve as a focal point to the breasts with realistic depth and coloring.
What Our Patients Have to Say
“Dr. Julie brings an artist’s touch to her work as a surgeon. She is fabulous and I would recommend her to anyone!” -Roselle K.
Is 3D nipple tattooing covered by insurance?
The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 states that post-mastectomy reconstruction, including nipple and areola tattooing, must be covered by insurance. However, the criteria for coverage and amounts covered may vary among insurance providers. Patients need to contact their insurance company for detailed information.
Are there any side effects of nipple tattooing?
In our Englewood, NJ office, nipple tattooing is conducted with the utmost care in technique and sterility. We utilize high-quality pigments to minimize the risk of allergic reactions. According to some patients, nipple tattooing results in a burning sensation or mild swelling with MRI imaging. This side effect is relatively uncommon and, if it does occur, does not last long.