Reconstructive Surgery Forum
This expert forum is not accepting new questions. Please post your question in one of our medical support communities.
Avatar universal

Tattooing nipples after breast reconstruction

Hi this is Stepaheda,
I had a double mastectomy on 7/16/08, and now going through reconstruction I have the expanders in right now. My question is: In stead of having nipple grafting done after the implants are put in, can you just have nipples tattooed on, and will it look ok?? I will be 50 years old this Oct, and I have Diabetes. So my biggest concern is not having more surgery than is necessary due to possible healing problems. If there is anyone who has choosen this route please let me know what the out come was. Thank you,
8 Responses
560109 tn?1220279867
I am Dr. Arch Miller. I frequently do both the tattooing and the erectile portion of the nipple areola reconstruction at the same time. It takes about one hour and is an office procedure. One injects a small amount of numbing medicine and the first builds the nipple itself, then tattoos the areola or brown part. This is a simple procedure, and has little post-operative discomfort, and yields a nice appearance. The one thing you must realize is that the nipple is always erect, and does not get smaller as in the normal state. Some sensation does return, but not normal sensation. I hope this helps .

                       arch s miller ms md facs
Avatar universal
I do not know about the tatoos or nipple grafting, I have not had my reconstruction done. I do not know which type I want. I had a total left mastectomy, no chemo, no radiation, Tell me about the experience with the expanders. I do not know if they could.. expand enough  to make a fifty year old looking D size boob. I do miss it. I am trying to start a new relationship  via E harmony.. and I am dealing with disclosure.. when .. how much and looking for a new job.. as a nurse. I guess I am getting a do over.. only with one boob. I  wish I could help you with your question. I would think the tattoos would have the right color but no difference in skin texture? I wander if any of the erectile effect gets grafted. I doubt it.. but I want to know too. I want to know if the donating breast will lose its erectile ability.. I guess that sounds trivial but I liked the fact that they use to be perky and responsive. Now, I do not even want to wear a bra.  I guess I need a shrink instead of a  med forum.. Whatever ... good luck.... let me hear from you,
Avatar universal
Hi Butterflyfuller,
The expanders are fine, just a little tight around the chest area, and some spasms every once in a while. But I'm told by the doctors that this is normal, due to the fact that the pectoralis muscles is being streched away from the chest walls. But because I was so larger DD cup/not going that big with the implants, the doctors tell me that I have a lot of skin to work with. So if all go's well I should be done with the filling by the end of the year, and have the permanent inplants in play by the first of 2009.
Now concerning the other issue, if I were you I would keep everything on a need to know basic (re: E harmony & new Job). We have come a long way with people understanding the fight with Cancer, but every once in a while you will run into someone who is just not as understanding as they should be. And you have enough to deal with right now, without being hurt due to someone not being understanding about your illness. Just something to think about. I also am in a new relationship, going on 3 yrs.
Take care, and keep in touch.
Avatar universal
Thanks.. imput helps..  I Have started to question my own judgement. so advice helps. Cancer is a big opponent, silent and hard hitting and relentless and ever changing. It is no wander we struggle with depression and PTSD, in addition to dry everything and hot flashes. I have found strength in area I did not know existed. I still have trouble believing something this horrible happened to me. I was the eternal Pollyanna. I think I am in denial, just waiting to wake up from the nightmare. Everyday, we have to deal with the issues and smile and move on. Somedays it is easier than others.  Thanks.
Avatar universal
You are so right! Cancer is a very hard hitting enemy and it never give up. But we have to beleive that we are stronger to be able to win this fight. Now is the time for us to be a little bit selfish, and make life all about us. Not to say that we don't care for others, but for me this order deal has helped me to take time for me, and not be so concern if others in my life don't understand. Because when it really come down to it, it is (we, us) with the cancer that have to put up the hard fight not any one else. Yes they love us and they feel for us. But when it all come down to it, it is we who have to deal on a daily basic with the fear, and the pains of treatment for this cancer. (Right)
Just think about your name (Butterfly) it is my personal symbol, butterfly's are all over my house, even my little 5yr old grand-son know's that Nana loves butterfly's. Why? Because take some time and read or look at how hard this lillte creature has to work to become a beautiful butterfly, no one else can do it for him, if someone try's to help him out of the cocoon he will die, the struggle makes him beautiful and stronger. So you see you have the right name, because with time you can win this fight. Ok, Take some time just love your self, and everthing will look better with time.
Nice talking with you,  
Avatar universal
thank you, I am sitting on my coutch today  with a damaged ankle. Just one  more obstacle. It should be ok.. just soft tissue damage.. we hope.. I am in a brace when  I walk for a while. I was trying to muster up the courage to apply for a new job in one week.I really feel like I have enough on my plate without a new job to deal with.  Your note may give the the right to just heal for a while. there may be another job I like the butterfly analogy. I too love butterflys. I picked the logo as a teenager. for their beaty and the way they can not be caught and caged. One must sit quietly and perhaps a  butterfly will  rest on you shoulder.I always felt so special when  butterflys and dragonflies chose me to sit with. It requires patience and stillness to attract a butterfly.  I also think about how sensitive butterflies are to their environment. On a beautiful day, they sail with the wind. I would expect rainstorms and high winds cause   a whole new set of problems. They are fragile.  I am searching for new strength and a new identity, that is not connected with outer beauty. Cancer took some of that away.  Hopefully the inner strength and beauty will emerge from the cocoon. I have people that love me.. I do feel weak and fatigue and I hate that. I do what I can when I can. I was a former workaholic. My self worth was tied into how much I could accomplish.I have time to reevaluate. Thank you for  caring..  Judy
326352 tn?1310997895
Nipple fixing...

Easy peasy (compared to the actual reconstruction surger).  Mine was done in-office.  They cut a star-shaped area in the center (matching to where the other nipple is also located)... sewed it up to make a lump.  The procedure took maybe 30 minutes.  They used lidocaine, so it really doesn't hurt...and you don't have much feeling in the new breast anyway.

Approx 6 weeks after they "create the nipple", they tatoo the areola.  Lidocaine and then they draw the shape in accordance with your other nipple, then tatoo.  Also not difficult.  

The bad thing is you have to be careful of the area for a week so that it can heal properly...no getting it wet (which is difficult for hair washing), and the nipple creation they gave me a guard which was the back end of a syringe!!!  It worked to shield the new nipple!

Looks pretty durn good, even if it was man-made.  The new nipple is not as prominent as the real thing, but in clothing it's hard to discern that much.

My mother chose NOT to have a nipple created.  Looks ok in clothing, not so good out of clothing.  It looks more like a blob than a boob.  Info just for comparison there.

Good luck to you both in whatever avenues you persue!
Avatar universal
Thank you so much for the personal information on nipple tatooing. It was very helpful. I guess if I was younger I would be ok about the grafting of a nipple. But come on I'll be the big 50 in a couple of months. I'm just happy that they were able to catch the Breast Cancer early, and looking forward to some new boobies that will be sitting up, and not hanging down to my waist. I have a dear friend who is a tatoo instructor and she has assured me that she and her staff can tatoo the nipple on where it will be very pleasing to the eye. At this point I'm just happy to have boobs that will help my clothes hang better. Much Thanks to you and you mother for sharing.

Hang in there Judy, it only get better each day. Live each day of your life with great happyness and joy. We are the only ones that have complete control of our own Happyness, everyone else in out life just add a little to it.
Popular Resources
Wish you could get back your pre-pregnancy body? Dr. Michael B. Wolfeld explains why new mothers are undergoing a cosmetic precedure called the "mommy makeover."
Whether you have excess skin that needs removal or want a quick fix for those vanity pounds, there are options. Plastic surgeon Michael B. Wolfeld, MD, describes two types of tummy tucks.
Ophthalmologist Michael Kutryb reports on the success (or failure!) of LATISSE.
In You Can Prevent a Stroke, Dr. Joshua Yamamoto and Dr. Kristin Thomas help us understand what we can do to prevent a stroke.
Smoking substitute may not provide such a healthy swap, after all.
How to lower your heart attack risk.