Areola tattooing is a non-surgical process where the illusion of a 3D areola and nipple are created through a tattoo. This procedure is almost painless and quick, and it uses a variety of techniques in order to get a natural looking result at the end. For many breast cancer survivors and those who are undergoing gender confirmation surgery, this can often be the final step in reconstruction. It can help many people recover emotionally and physically from breast reconstruction scars. It can also be used to help anyone with any irregularity of the color or shape. Since it’s a non-surgical procedure, it doesn’t need to be done in a doctor’s office and those with areola tattoo training can perform it.
How It’s Performed
Before you begin the procedure, the color and size of the areola are determined with the help of the provider. If a single nipple is being created to match an existing breast, numerous shades and colors can be used to create a pigment match. A photograph taken before the mastectomy can be used or a patient can choose a new color. Options are temporarily drawn on the skin to find the perfect shape and color. After the outline is done, the provider will use a specialized instrument to transfer the pigment. It can be similar to getting a regular tattoo but requires advanced micropigmentation techniques, including blending, feathering, and shadowing, in order to make it look more natural. Sometimes multiple sessions may be necessary in order to get the desired coloring. The procedure can be done as soon as your physician approves it. It can usually be performed as soon as six months after surgery, but it’s always best to ask your physician.
For many post mastectomy patients, the process of areola tattooing is painless. For patients who also receive an implant during breast reconstruction, there can be some discomfort. In these cases, a local anesthetic can be applied before the procedure in order to minimize any pain felt. The procedure can vary from one patient to the next, but the process only takes about 15 to 30 minutes to finish.
Just like with a regular tattoo, fading can be possible. However, areola tattooing can last for the rest of your life if the tattoo isn’t exposed to the sunlight. Complications from areola tattooing aren’t common but can include allergic reactions and infections. It could be possible for certain parts of the skin to reject the pigment because of some of the past trauma, such as radiation or any pre-existing scar tissue. Be sure to research your artist and make sure they have the proper areola tattoo training in order to get the best results.