Tattooing (micropigmentation) can be used either alone, or together with a nipple reconstruction. It is used to create a semi-permanent image of the nipple and areola complex. If you opt not to have a nipple reconstruction, tattooing can be used to create the illusion of protrusion of a nipple bud. Pigment will be applied into the top layer of your skin with a small electronic machine and pen-like device which holds a cluster of fine needles. This is used to implant semi-permanent pigments. Usually 2 procedures are required, approximately 4-6 weeks apart.

Are there any risks involved with this procedure?

100% satisfaction cannot be guaranteed. Semi-permanent pigments that have been tested as safe to use for patients following breast reconstruction are used, because of this the pigment may fade over time. You may also experience the following:

  • pigment may spread slightly outside the treated area
  • uneven pigment area
  • not achieving an exact match to your natural nipple & areola

As with any clinical procedure, micropigmentation is not without risk. These include:

  • discomfort during treatment
  • allergy to pigment
  • scarring
  • bleeding
  • infection
  • flattening of a reconstructed nipple

Are there factors that may affect the result?

The result of micropigmentation is partly determined by individual skin type but can also be affected by:

  • natural skin overtones
  • skin characteristics (dryness, oiliness, sun damage, acidity)
  • medication
  • lifestyle, such as alcohol, smoking, swimming or jacuzzi
  • individual healing ability
  • presence of any scars


  • Your practitioner will advise you of your wound aftercare following your procedure, depending on the unit.
  • You may experience temporary swelling/redness for the first day or two.
  • Crusting/scabbing may occur on the areola area. This is a normal part of the healing process, and it is important not to pick at it as it may pull out the pigment and cause infection or scarring.
  • You may use clean kitchen-roll paper or gauze after showering to pat the area dry until it has fully healed.
  • It is recommended that you do not swim, sunbathe, or use a sauna or Jacuzzi for two weeks after the procedure to prevent pigment changes. After this time a thin layer of petroleum jelly (i.e. Vaseline) will create a barrier from the chlorine which can act as bleach and cause changes/fading in the pigment.
  • You will be given a follow up appointment for the second treatment. The practitioner will then assess the appearance of the areola and apply further pigment as necessary.
  • You may need further sessions in the future as, over a period of time, the tattoo may fade.

Tattooing, CT scans, MRI

Some pigment colours contain a trace of iron oxide. If you have a CT or MRI scan, you will need to tell the scanning technician about your tattoo so that they can assess the risk of side effects; as there have been reports of burns/tingling to the tattooed area.

Come to a Show & Tell event

Find out more about different types of procedure and the experiences of patients by coming along to one of our events.