Woman posing after breast reconstruction DenverAt The Breast Center of Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery, we understand that when it comes to breast reconstruction, the details matter. One of the specific procedures that sets us apart is areola pigmentation. This procedure is typically the final step in the breast reconstruction process, and it is often a very beneficial step because it is really the finishing touch on re-creating the appearance of the breasts.

What is the Areola?

The areola is the circle of darker skin that surrounds your nipple. The areola is a natural feature on the human body, so, much like the rest of the structure of your breast, it can be restored as part of the larger reconstruction procedure. It is of course up to each individual woman whether to receive areola pigmentation. As a supportive and experienced team, our plastic surgeons and staff will make sure you know all of the options available to you, and help you decide which aspects of breast reconstruction are right for you.

How Does Areola Pigmentation Work?

There are different variations on the pigmentation procedure – many surgeons perform skin grafts to achieve the pigmentation effect. However, at The Breast Center of Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery, we use a process in which the pigment is tattooed. You can think of this as essentially a medical tattoo – in fact, the procedure is often called “nipple tattooing.” We are one of the only practices in Colorado that offers this procedure.

The procedure works like this:

  • Areola pigmentation is performed no sooner than three weeks after nipple reconstruction – we need to allow all the incisions to heal
  • The pigmentation procedure is performed under local anesthesia – you'll be awake during the procedure
  • We use precise, medical-grade instruments and highly advanced pigments to place a kind of tattoo in the region around the nipple, creating the appearance of an areola
  • In some cases, multiple procedures are required in order to achieve the precise shade needed

The “tattooing” process has a number of advantages over other forms of the pigmentation procedure. It's a simple procedure, satisfaction is high, there are no new scars and, if necessary, the procedure can be repeated relatively easily.

Post-Procedure Recovery Steps

Here's what we recommend immediately after an areola pigmentation:

  • Be patient – redness, weeping, oozing and irritation are all normal effects of the surgery. And the color may appear much deeper than you wish – it will fade with time.
  • Using Neosporin or a triple antibiotic ointment, keep the area moist for about five days after the procedure. You'll usually need to apply the ointment and cover with gauze about two or three times per day.
  • The area will slowly dry and peel – again, this is completely normal. It should take about three weeks for the healing to complete.
  • You'll need to return to our office for a follow-up about three weeks after your procedure – during this time, showers are fine, but avoid taking baths.

The good news is that you can resume your full schedule of activities immediately after your procedure – no need to take weeks off for recovery.

If you live in or around Denver, Colorado, and would like to talk to our breast surgeons about your goals, please call The Breast Center of Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery today, at 720-457-4461, to arrange a consultation and examination.