Tattooed nipples

Tattooed nipples—it is the final procedure and the “Icing on the cake,” so to speak, of breast reconstruction.

Of course, the accurate term is areola pigmentation, However- more commonly they are called “nipple tattoos.” There are several other industry names for nipple tattooing. They include:

  • nipple tattoos
  • areola pigmentation
  • areola repigmentation
  • dermapigmentation
  • paramedical tattooing
  • intradermal coloring
  • permanent cosmetics.

Illusion of Protrusion 3-D Areola Tattoo

Nipple tattooing is truly an art form. 

The 3-D effect for areola pigmentation has been aptly coined the “illusion of protrusion.”

A 3-dimensional areola tattoo gives the illusion of nipple protrusion without a surgical procedure.

“Advanced techniques are required for optimal 3-D results,”  “An artist must be skilled in the elements of shadowing, highlighting, feathering and contouring. Of course, color selection is critical to your outcome as well, so learning about color blending and pigment hues are key to the outcome of your breast re-pigmentation after mastectomy.

With an experienced artist skilled in 3-D effects, the results are very realistic.

During a permanent tattoo procedure pigment is implanted into the dermal layer of the skin by using tiny needles. The dermal skin layer is the middle layer between the epidermis (top layer) and hypodermis.


  • Measurements will be taken (while standing) to determine the position and size of the nipple. (A 4-centimeter circle is the average size.)
  • First things first, we draw the tattoo shape on your body so that you can visualize and approve the placement and size. Adjustments can easily be made at this point.
  • If needed a numbing agent will be applied to the area with topical anesthetic cream.
  • Pigments will be applied into the dermis using an electronic handheld device that directs tiny needles into the skin. Connected to a digital console unit equipped with a microprocessor, the device enhances precision and needle placement and minimizes trauma to the skin.
  • If both sides are being done, the artist may switch back and forth as different pigment colors and brushes are used for various elements of the design.
  • As the procedure progresses, very small amounts of blood may ooze from the skin. This area will dabbed the skin when needed.
  • The procedure will take 45 to 60 minutes per side to complete.
  • Upon completion, the newly pigment area will be covered with a gauze bandage or breast pad over the tattoos.
  • Review of printed post-procedure care instructions.

The results will be darker at first, and the color will fade as the skin heals. It is common that a color touch-up is needed several weeks after the initial procedure. Color touch-ups may also be needed every few years.

“It’s like a cupcake with no icing. That is the only analogy I can think of right now,” said Michelle “Why would any woman want to go through the entire reconstruction process and not want to top it off with this? This is truly the finishing touch!” I tell my patients to go out and celebrate being a survivor!”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able to witness the first glimpse of her nipple tattoos in the mirror. “I just can’t believe how this makes me feel. I feel like a normal sexy woman again! Even the scars are less visible because there is a bolder focal point!”

Before, During and After Nipple Tattooing

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