After a mastectomy and breast reconstruction, restoring the appearance of your nipples and areola is an essential part of the healing journey.
While a few survivors make the personal choice of not restoring them, several studies have discovered that the presence of a nipple and areola after breast reconstruction surgery helps combat the psychological setbacks of a breast cancer diagnosis.
In this guide, we’ll explore two popular approaches. On one hand, there’s the artful touch of areola tattooing, creating natural-looking areolas with precision and care. On the other hand, there are surgical reconstruction options.
You must learn the pros and cons of each so that you can make an informed decision about your next steps. Let’s get started!
Areola Tattooing – What Does It Entail?
Areola tattooing can be a pain-free, non-invasive artistic procedure that recreates the appearance of nipples and areola with the use of pigment, needles, and artistic skills.
It is a form of body art and can be conducted a few months after breast and nipple reconstruction surgery. It completes the process of giving a realistic appearance to breasts after mastectomy and plays a crucial role in elevating confidence and satisfaction in breast cancer survivors.
The procedure itself takes somewhere between 1 to 3 hours in which the tattoo artist uses a needle to inject pigment in the top layer of the skin. Since reconstructed breasts may have no sensation, this process may be entirely painless, but everyone is different.
If someone forgoes the nipple reconstruction procedure, an artist can also add nipple tattoos along with the areola. They can add 3D dimensions that result in a very realistic appearance.
The Pros and Cons of Areola Tattooing
Areola tattoos are one of the most innovative procedures and have more pros than cons. Either way, you must learn all the aspects of a procedure for the sake of making a good decision .
- The tattoo artists meticulously mimic the dimensions and projection of real areolas, in a way that seamlessly flows with the surrounding breast tissues, giving them a very realistic appearance.
- Unlike surgical reconstruction, areola tattoos are minimally invasive, only using a needle to inject pigment into the top layer of the skin.
- Areola tattoos do not leave any additional scars on the breast region. As a matter of fact, in some cases, it conceals some scars.
- Areola tattoos have no downtime and no recovery period.
- The healing process is faster and only lasts a couple of weeks.
- Can get it retouched over years with no side effects
- Areola tattoos may be painless, everyone is different.
- They are highly customizable and can be tailored to every individual’s preference.
- Natural-looking areolas help with body image and self-confidence.
- In certain cases, areola tattoos can be altered or modified if desired, offering a level of flexibility that surgical reconstruction may not always provide.
- Areola tattoos are less expensive than surgical reconstructions.
- The lack of surgical incisions makes areola tattoos a low-risk procedure.
- Areola tattoos can be conducted repeatedly without any side effects.
- Areola tattoos are only as good as the artists drawing them and are highly skill-dependent.
- May require regular touch-ups.
- They appear in 3D, but they do not have tactical dimensions and projections.
- It doesn’t mimic the texture of natural areolas.
- Candidates who have sensations in the breast region may experience some discomfort during the procedure.
Surgical Reconstruction – What Does It Entail?
Breast reconstruction is a procedure aimed at recreating breasts after mastectomy or lumpectomy. The final phase of this process involves nipple surgery, which is an aesthetic procedure offered to all breast reconstruction patients as the concluding step. Patients have the option to either accept or decline this surgery.
Typically performed around 3 to 4 months after the initial breast surgery, once the new breast has had sufficient time to heal, this separate surgical procedure aims to achieve a natural appearance resembling the original breast. A skilled plastic surgeon performs invasive surgery, meticulously recreating the breast and the nipple with attention to the symmetry in position, size, shape, texture, pigmentation, and projection.
Various techniques exist for breast reconstruction, including saline or silicone implants, as well as utilizing tissue from other parts of the body (like the belly) to shape the breast.
The Pros and Cons Of Surgical Reconstruction
As with most procedures, surgical reconstruction of breasts and nipples has its share of pros and cons. One must go through each of them to make a sound decision based on their preference and specific health conditions.
- With the surgical reconstruction of nipples, the appearance of the reconstructed breast is quite realistic and appears very close to the natural breasts.
- The surgical reconstruction adds dimension and projection.
- The surgical reconstruction has a very short recovery period.
- Improves self-confidence.
- The nipple can flatten out over time.
- The nipple and the breast do not have any sensation.
- It adds another surgical procedure after mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery.
- Must go through general anesthesia.
- Surgical reconstruction has a longer recovery time compared to tattoos.
- Risk of additional scars on the breast area as well as the donor site in case of grafting
- The nipples do not move like natural ones.
- Higher risks of complications and side effects compared to tattoos.
Rediscover Confidence with Areola Tattoos
After breast reconstruction surgery, most women opt out of nipple and areola surgery because of its invasive nature. However, that doesn’t mean they have run out of options. Areola tattoos help cancer survivors in rediscovering their confidence by restoring their areolas through minimum invasion.
Our team at LUXE Brow + Lash in Austin, TX is more than just a group of highly skilled and experienced artists – we are passionate individuals with a deep appreciation for the art of areola tattooing. We live to see the smiles on our clients’ faces.
To provide maximum comfort, we have created a nurturing environment at our salon, and we take the time to listen, understand, and discuss your preferences.
If you’re seeking an areola tattooing experience that goes beyond technical skills, reach out to us today!