Areola Tattooing and Reconnecting with Your Body Post Mastectomy
What is Areola Tattooing?
Areola tattooing, sometimes called 3D nipple tattooing or areola micropigmentation, is a non-surgical procedure where the illusion of a 3-dimensional areola and nipple are created through a specialized tattoo. This quick and nearly painless procedure uses a variety of advanced micro-pigmented techniques to create a natural looking final result.
For many breast cancer survivors, as well anyone who is in the process of undergoing gender confirmation surgery, areola tattooing is the final step in their reconstruction journey. It is a way for many people to recover physically and emotionally from their mastectomy and breast reconstruction scars. This procedure may also be performed to benefit anyone who has any irregularity in their areola color, or shape.
Before & After Areola Tattooing
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How is Areola Tattooing Performed?
Prior to the start of your procedure the areola color and size are determined with the help of your provider. In cases where a single nipple is to be created to match an existing breast the provider can mix numerous colors and shades to create a pigment match. For bilateral reconstructions a pre-mastectomy photograph can be used or the patient can choose a new areola color. Options can be drawn on temporarily to the skin to aid in selecting the perfect areola shape and color.
After drawing an outline of the areola, the provider uses a specialized tattoo instrument to transfer pigment into the skin. While seeming like getting a regular tattoo, areola tattooing requires advanced micropigmentation techniques like shadowing, blending, feathering, and highlighting in order to recreate a natural nipple. In some cases multiple treatment sessions may be needed to achieve the final desired coloring.
Is the Treatment Painful?
For many post-mastectomy patients, the process of areola tattooing is completely pain free. Patients who received an implant during breast reconstruction, however, may feel some discomfort. In these instances, a topical anesthetic can be applied at the beginning of the procedure in order to minimize pain.
How Long Does Areola Tattooing Take?
While procedure times can differ form patient to patient, the process of areola tattooing can take as little as 15 to 30 minutes to complete.
How Long Will Results Last?
Like any other tattoo, some fading of pigment is possible. However, areola tattoos can often last a lifetime as the tattoo is less exposed to the sun exposed to the sun often, your Areola tattoos should last a lifetime.
Are There Potential Complications?
Complications form areola tattooing, while uncommon, can include infection, allergic reactions, and additional scarring. Additionally, it is possible for certain areas of the skin to reject the pigment due to the effects of past trauma in the area (i.e. radiation, pre-existing scar tissue, etc.). It is very important to research your artist and ask to see healed photos of their work.