3D Tattoos Could Replace Invasive Nipple Areola Procedure

Post-mastectomy women now have improved nipple/areola options on their breast reconstruction journeys with the advent of 3-D areola pigmentation, commonly called “nipple tattoos.” These newly-advanced artistic techniques look so realistic that some decide to forgo two types of invasive surgeries previously considered standard practice.

Nipple-areola reconstruction surgeries create a raised nub of skin in the center of the breast mound and replicate an areola by grafting harvested skin (from the groin or stomach) around it.

Skin-flap procedures have simplified the nipple creation process whereby the surgeon frees up a section of skin atop the mound, swirls it into a nub, and sutures it into a protrusion. This simplified process is done in the office and only requires local anesthetics. In the past, surgeons would harvest a piece of cartilage from the ear to create the nub.

The Illusion of Protrusion

The 3-D effect for areola pigmentation has been aptly coined the “illusion of protrusion” by experts in the field. Advanced techniques are required for optimal 3-D results, requiring skills in shadowing, highlighting, feathering and contouring. Color selection is critical to good outcomes as well, so color blending with pigment hues is also essential.

One-dimensional tattooing can look freakish and result in what the industry calls the “bulls-eye” effect. With an artist skilled in 3-D techniques the results are very realistic. This is why the online message boards are buzzing with name requests for artists skilled in the 3-D techniques that are crucial for those who have decided to nix the skin grafting and nipple nub.

Temporary Tattoos Ease Decision-Making

Women now have a tool to make the permanent tattoo decision easier. The patented Rub-On Nipples® last one to two weeks and are easily removed with rubbing alcohol. They look amazingly similar to permanent 3-D nipple tattoos and help women visualize how they would look. They also fill the void for those who are not yet candidates for a permanent procedure, which is sometimes delayed for years when breast revisions are needed. This is because the size and shape of the breast mound must be finalized before placement of a nipple tattoo can be accurately determined.


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