Areola Pigmentation

Board-Certified Plastic Surgeons Serving Denver, Lone Tree, Colorado & Nationwide

While there are many options in breast reconstruction (including using breast implants or using a woman’s own tissue to reconstruct a breast), all methods end with the reconstruction of the nipple and the areola (pigmented skin around the nipple). Areola pigmentation, sometimes called "nipple tattooing," is the final step to the breast reconstruction process. 

Our ultimate desire is that you selected a method of breast reconstruction in which you feel comfortable with the new breast(s). Your reconstruction is completed by adding the circular darker skin around the nipple, called the areola. There are various techniques to provide unique skin colors for a patient in an effort to recreate an areola. These usually include either harvesting a skin graft from the patient or a pigmentation applied around the nipple, much like a tattoo.

woman covering the areola (nipple) of her breastAt The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery, we prefer the pigmentation (tattoo) method whenever possible because is it relatively simple, has a high degree of satisfaction, adds no new scars, and can be repeated if necessary. Areola pigmentation is completed no sooner than three months after nipple reconstruction to allow the latest incisions to heal well. Our physicians and nurses have specialized training for this tattooing procedure and can offer this procedure to you at our on-site accredited facility.

No matter the timing of your visit to The Breast Center at Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery , our nurses and surgeons will help you select a shade from a large color spectrum we have at the office. Regardless, you may select whatever color you prefer — allowing this final step to become an elective, customizable procedure for you!

Perhaps you have had your breast reconstruction elsewhere and are just looking to have areola pigmentation. The staff at The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery are absolutely willing to evaluate you and determine a color that is appropriate for you for your nipple tattoo. Please call 303-706-1100 today to arrange your consultation.

How Does Nipple Tattooing Work?

Areola pigmentation is done under local anesthesia while the patient is awake in our affiliated Park Meadows Outpatient Surgery. We use medical-grade pigments and medical-quality tattooing instruments.

The pigment is permanently placed using “tattooing” techniques. As with any tattoo, the pigments will tend to fade with time and acquiring the precise shade may require more than one pigmentation (tattoo) procedure.

Post-Operative Instructions

During the first week after tattooing, your tattoo will look red and irritated and the color may look much darker than you originally chose. Please be patient as the color will fade as the skin begins to heal.

Redness, weeping, and oozing are all normal. Pain should be minimal but you may take Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen according to package instructions if needed. Increasing pain or pain not relieved by the above medications should be reported to your doctor immediately.

Keep the tattooed area moist with Neosporin or triple antibiotic ointment for 5 days. Apply as needed, 2 or 3 times per day and cover with gauze to protect your clothing. These items may be purchased at your local grocery or drug store.

After 5 days you may switch to A&D ointment. This is usually found in the baby department of any grocery store. Please make sure you purchase “ointment” and not “cream”. Apply this as needed 2-3 times per day until the wound is healed. You may still need to apply gauze to protect your clothing.

The tattoo area will slowly dry and peel. This is also normal and may take up to 3 weeks to heal completely.

You may resume all regular activity including eating, drinking and exercising immediately following your procedure. 

You may shower immediately following your procedure but please refrain from soaking in water; including bath tubs, swimming pools and hot tubs for three (3) weeks.

Increasing pain, redness, red streaks, warmth, or fever should be reported to your doctor immediately.

Please make an appointment for a follow-up visit approximately 3 weeks after initial tattoo.

This final phase of reconstruction often serves to transform the reconstruction into a breast that is truly your breast. This enables many survivors to lay their cancer burden down and move forward in life with restored femininity.