Nipple reconstruction and tattooing
There are several different ways of making an artificial nipple. The main options are:
Having a mould made from the other nipple
These "stick on" nipples can be quite realistic. They can be chosen off the shelf or made specifically to match your other / previous nipple. They tend to project a bit more than other types of artificial nipple. Their main drawback is that they have to be stuck on. For many women these tend to stay in a draw, being brought out on special occasions and sometimes get lost (on one reported occasion being "borrowed" by a grandson).
Having a nipple made from the skin over your breast / breast reconstruction
This is sometimes done at the same operation as the breast reconstruction. It involves a short scar that can usually be hidden within the tattoo. The main drawback is that they tend to flatten a bit with time.
The operation to make a nipple like this is usually performed under local anaesthetic and takes about 20 minutes. Recovery time is very quick. There is a small risk that part of the skin used to make the nipple with not survive and form a scab. Very occasionally the entire nipple reconstruction will fail and need to be re-done.
Using part of your other nipple as a graft (Nipple Sharing)
This can often produce the most realistic looking nipple, as it matches the other side. Women most suitable for this usually have quite a prominent nipple on the other side. The procedure is normally performed under local anaesthetic and takes about 20 minutes. Part of the areola (pigmented skin around the nipple) can sometimes also be grafted. Very rarely nipple or areolar grafts will not take and a nipple will need to be made by some other means.
This is a simple procedure that can make a very big difference to the appearance of a breast reconstruction out of clothes. Many women report that tattooing has made a big difference to their confidence in situations like: Swimming pool changing rooms "Heads don't turn any more"
Looking in a mirror "It completely fools the eye"
"It makes my scars much less noticeable"
It is usually performed in conjunction with nipple reconstruction but this is not always necessary and many women will have a good result from just a tattoo alone. Local anaesthetic is used in the form of a cream that you apply to the area yourself about an hour before the procedure. Most women are only aware of a little vibration during the tattooing. Because the colours used are often quite subtle skin tones (most tattoos, on arms etc, will use very bold colours) it is often necessary to have 2 and sometimes 3 short sessions of tattooing to get the best, most durable result.
All tattoos will fade a little with time and over the years it may be necessary to have a top-up tattoo. Aftercare involves applying an ointment that will be given to you for a couple of days afterwards and avoid soaking the tattoo in bath for the first week (showers are OK).
Dry tattooing, without any colour pigment, can be used to improve scars.
Our team brings together professionals with experience and expertise in a range of disciplines. The team’s collaboration strengthens the individual treatment plan, encourages patient involvement and ensures a continuous flow of communication. This underlying spirit of cooperation fosters a climate of trust and concern that is conducive to healing.
Healthy tips for breast care