What is 3-D areola tattooing?
Nipple Areola Complex simulation (NAC) is an area of medical tattooing that requires advanced education, training and experience. This procedure is a highly specialized practice of tattooing that restores the natural looking color and shape of an areola after breast reconstruction. This can be done in conjunction with surgical nipple reconstruction. If there is no nipple, a 3 dimensional nipple can be created with light and shadow, to give the “illusion of protrusion”.
What is the Process?
Pigment is implanted into the skin between the epidermis and the dermis, generally using the same equipment used for body art tattoos. The skin heals over the pigment and a soft natural areola/nipple is created.
The client has an in depth discussion to find the best color, size and shape of the new areola and nipple. The actual tattoo will take about 30-60 minutes. A topical anesthetic can minimize any discomfort during the procedure.
The area will have minor redness and feel a bit like a sunburn for 2-3 days following the procedure. The color will look more bright than the final result immediately after. It will start to mellow in the a week and a half after the procedure. A second session is often needed to fine tune the color and shape for the most natural appearance of the areola and nipple.
Is Areola and 3-D tattooing safe?
Yes, areola/nipple tattooing is very safe. Single-use disposable needles and pigments, along with regular hand washing and glove changing are part of high standards of clean protocols. Post procedural instructions, if followed carefully, also ensure a safe procedure.
An experienced artist will understand the special considerations of skin that has been radiated and/or stretched and will be able to safely tattoo this skin.
Does it Hurt?
Most clients are surprised to find tattooing quite tolerable. It is a superficial process, and afterward it is just a bit sore, like a minor sunburn for 2-3 days. Ask about easy ways to minimize discomfort.
Why Areola or 3-D Nipple tatttooing?
Most women who chose to areola restoration or nipple tattooing do so because they do not want anymore surgeries. Many find it helps to return a sense of normality and femininity to her body and sense of self.
What about After Care?
How do I take care of my new nipple tattoo?There is very little down time for tattoo healing. Aftercare is primarily a matter of keeping the area clean, avoiding direct sun, and not letting it soak or dry out. There will be some itching and flaking of the skin for the first week or two. It takes about 3-4 weeks to really see the soft, natural results of your areola and nipple tattoo.
Why should you have a Permanent Make up/Tattoo Artist do the work rather than a Doctor/Nurse?
Some doctors/Nurses do fine tattoo work. However, while surgeons are specially trained to surgically create breasts, most are not trained in tattoo procedures, color theory, and how to create a 3 dimensional illusion on a 2 dimensional surface. A Permanent Make up/ tattoo artist generally has an art back round and training, as well as experience in 3D work.
How do I Choose the right artist or doctor to do this work?
•Always look at healed pictures of the areola and 3D tattoos (photos taken directly after will be a bit bright and darker then healed).
•Make sure the areola color looks natural and that it isn’t perfectly round with hard edges
•Does the nipple appear dimensional?
•The artist should have good experience and specialized training, particularly in color theory and areola/3D nipple tattooing. An arts background is especially helpful
•Ask all your questions, and be sure you are comfortable with the artist’s ability to answer your questions
•Of course, be sure anyone tattooing follows all protocols and safety standards for a clean and safe procedure
How many appointments does it take?
It is more than likely you will see your practitioner 2-3 times before both deeming this procedure as complete. First MCA and patch test followed by two sessions of colour implanting, creating shading, balance and symmetry. For a unilateral mastectomy patient, this process helps the recontructed breast to match the natural breast. For patients with bilateral breast reconstruction, both areolas are recreated.
What should you do before the appointment?
•avoid alcohol for at least 2 days before your appt
•have a good breakfast and minimize the caffeine the day of procedure
•wear a comfortable clothing including a shirt, sweater, or hoodie that opens in the front and that is ok if pigment gets on it
•do not stop regular meds without consulting your doc, but avoid any aspirin or other blood thinning meds
•if your doc will prescribe, you can use a topical anesthetic before you come in (let your artist know for direction in using or the name of an over the counter cream) There is topical for use during the procedure so this isn’t necessary