After all the surgery of a breast reconstruction is completed (this may include a nipple reconstruction and/or surgery to the other breast to make it match the new breast better), your doctor may suggest that you have a procedure to introduce some colour to the nipple and/or its surrounds (the areola).
This process may involve intradermal colouration – otherwise known as tattooing. Natural-looking pigments are used, so don’t worry, you won’t end up with a fluoro-green nipple!
After your surgery, the nipple area is often quite numb, but some sensation may return over time. A local anaesthetic (a numbing injection) is used prior to the tattooing. This also constricts blood vessels to reduce bleeding. This allows better uptake of the colour.
The nipple/areola area is tattooed using a colour which matches, as well as possible, the areolar complex on the opposite side.
The tattooed areola will look darker, than when it will settle, immediately after the procedure. A dressing is applied which may be removed at the next shower. A new dressing or shield to protect your bra from spotting may be required for a couple of days.
A light scaliness or scabbiness will form and may last for a week or two.
The colour will settle and fade over about 3 weeks, after which time it will be reassessed and a top-up of colour performed as required.
The tattoo pigment will fade over time and a future addition of colour can be arranged when indicated.
Most women find that this procedure puts the final touch to their new breast.