An areola or nipple tattoo is done after a nipple or breast reconstruction surgery to help recreate and improve the appearance of the nipple. It reconstructs the nipple using a pigment to make it appear more realistic and natural. The idea of the areola tattooing ink is to alter the nipple appearance by adding one or changing the existing one’s shape. It is done in the same way as other forms of tattoos by depositing ink under the skin, but an areola tattoo is more detailed in feathering and blending to create a natural look.
Reasons to get an areola tattoo.
One powerful reason why an areola tattoo is done is to create a new nipple to help breast cancer survivors be comfortable in their bodies post-surgery. Many breast cancer survivors who undergo mastectomy or double mastectomy if both breasts are affected do not feel comfortable with their bodies after the procedure. So an areola tattoo helps them construct their bodies in a way that feels comfortable to boost self-confidence. Some women also use it as an alternative to nipple reconstruction as it is a quicker and more comfortable procedure. Being able to reconnect with your body after a mastectomy is magical, and areola tattoos help women achieve that.
However, not only breast cancer survivors undergo areola tattoos. It is also an option for women who want to change the color or appearance of their nipples, giving them control over how their bodies look. It can be performed on anyone who doesn’t like the appearance of their natural nipples and may need repigmentation or reshaping, or anyone who has undergone a procedure that left a scarring effect on their chest such as burns or skin grafts.
How does the process work?
First is the consultation with the specialist who will discuss the desired nipple size, shape, placement, and color pigmentations that complement your skin. The specialists also assess the client’s skin type to identify any scarring that may require delicate skill to achieve the desired result. Some skins can be quite scarred, thin or light after the surgery, which is why it is crucial to find an experienced medical tattooist.
After agreeing on the design, the specialist uses an oscillated tattoo needle with a non-toxic color pigment to deposit below the outer skin layer to reconstruct the nipple.
How long does it take?
The time an areola tattoo takes depends on the breast’s condition, the demands of the areola design, and the specialist. For instance, since mastectomy leaves a scarred and roughly textured skin, the specialist may have to craft the procedure to keep your natural skin safe. It can take from as little as thirty minutes to several hours per breast.
The right time to get it
If you have undergone a breast or nipple reconstruction procedure, the best time to get an areola tattoo is after three months. That gives the skin some time to heal. However, you have to consult with your nipple reconstruction healthcare provider for the best advice.
The doctor prescribes antibiotics to prevent infection and help in the healing process of the tattoo. It can take 10-14days to heal, but it differs from one person to another and depends on the after-care process.
Both temporary and permanent areola tattoos are available to suit different clients’ needs.