Your 5 step guide to Nipple Tattooing 

Your 5 step guide to Nipple Tattooing 

Areola and nipple tattooing is a unique treatment option for women who have had a mastectomy as a result of a diagnosis of breast cancer. This treatment can be the final step in breast reconstruction after a single or bi-lateral mastectomy. Using specialist tattoo inks, areola and nipple tattoo artists are able to create a design around the areola and even use 3D techniques to give the illusion of a real nipple. Areola and nipple tattooing is often described as the “cherry on the cake” and can often provide closure for the patient on what has likely been, a long and scary journey.

Areola tattooing can also be performed for those who have undergone breast reduction surgery and can also be hugely beneficial for transgender patients looking to enlarge or enhance their areola as part of gender reassignment. This is a relatively simple and straight forward process and can be done over just a couple of appointments, but can have a hugely positive impact for the patient. 

For breast cancer survivors, the decision to have breast reconstruction is one of the most significant decisions they will make. Areola and nipple tattooing is often the final step in the reconstruction process.

It’s now time for me to show you how this works. I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people who want to know what it’s like to get an areola or a nipple tattoo so, i’ve written this 5 step guide …

1. Getting Ready for the Experience

2. The Process

3. Is it Safe?

4. Is it Painful?

5. Healing & Aftercare

1. Getting Ready for the Experience

“This is my first time getting a tattoo,” said Clare. “I don’t know what to expect and I’m a little nervous. But I’m ready to take the plunge.”

If you’re considering getting an areola or nipple tattoo, take time to research a good artist and book a consultation.  Before booking an appointment, do some research online.  

The best way to go about choosing an artist for a nipple tattoo is to do your homework beforehand. A great place to start is with a google search for nipple or areola tattooing in your area. 

 When you search online, you will find plenty of resources. You will also find people who have already done a great job at this. They usually have lots of examples on their sites or can show you examples at a consultation. You can see what kind of work they do and what it looks like. 

You may want to ask them some questions before you decide to get an areola or nipple tattoo. Ask what kind of ink they use. Ask about the kind of needles they use and about their experience. Getting an areola tattoo is an incredibly personal experience. Do your homework, that way, you can decide if you feel comfortable working with them.


2. The Areola & Nipple Tattooing Process 

breast cancer support

 The process for areola tattooing is slightly different for each patient. Typically, the patient will attend a consultation where a medical history is taken, the options are discussed and a patch test is performed. If all is well, you will then attend your nipple tattooing appointment. 

I am an experienced and dedicated tattoo artist, who has been doing this for many years, and I will help you choose the design and colours that best suit your body.

I use the Pink Ribbon Pigment Collection by World Famous Inks. A collection of tattoo inks, created specifically for areola and nipple tattooing. In the case of a single areola or nipple, I will colour match to your remaining areola/nipple or in the case of a full reconstruction, I will match to your natural skin tones, taking into consideration your preferences. This is usually done on the day but can be done at a consultation on request.

On the day of the procedure, once you’ve been made comfortable, I will apply an antiseptic preparation and then measure and sketch out an outline of your tattoo using a non toxic marker. You will then have the final say over the size and position of your tattoo.

When we’re ready to begin, we will then proceed with the tattoo. It usually takes about 30-45 minutes to complete one tattoo (up to 2 hours for both breasts). This is done by applying a number of different colours and techniques to different areas of the areola/nipple to create the finished tattoo.

Before (old work not done by Sara Duane)
After Nipple Tattooing by Sara Duane
Close Up Of Nipple Tattooing by Sara Duane

3. Is it Safe?

As with any kind of procedure, tattoos are associated with risks. However, there are ways to minimise the risks. Some risks that may occur include :

Allergic Reaction

It is incredibly rare for patients to react to the products used for areola/nipple tattooing. The ingredients are fairly common and found in many everyday products that most people are exposed to regularly. A way to minimise the risk of an allergic reaction is to ensure a full medical history has been taken and a patch test has been performed at your consultation. 

Ensure you inform the artist of any known allergies or medical conditions.


Ensure your artist is fully licensed and insured to perform these procedures. Tattoos should only ever be performed in a licensed premises with particular attention paid to cleanliness and hygiene.

Infections are almost always caused by poor aftercare or where aftercare instructions have not been followed. Make sure you follow the advice of your artist to avoid getting an infection and ensuring the best possible results. 

Other skin problems

If you have a history of inflammatory conditions such as psorasis or eczema in the area to be tattooed, this can be triggered by the tattooing process. If this is true for you, ensure you let your artist know so that they can advise accordingly. 

Blood Borne Diseases

If the equipment or tools used to create your tattoo are contaminated you may be at risk of contracting a blood borne disease. Again, ensuring your artist is fully licensed and insured and practising in a clean, hygenic environment is key to minimising the risk.

Your artist should be disinfecting their workspace between each appointment, barrier wrapping their machine, bed and trolley with plastic as well as using single use, disposable needles/cartridges and wearing PPE (personal protective equipment such as gloves, aprons and masks). Check what your artist’s standards are before committing to a tattoo.

Before (old work not done by Sara Duane)
After Nipple Tattooing by Sara Duane
Close Up Of Nipple Tattooing by Sara Duane

4. Is it Painful?

Nipple Tattooing Kent

Getting any tattoo is a very individual thing, but areola and nipple tattooing is a very specialist skill. Every tattoo artist has his or her own way of doing it, but what does it feel like?

For those who have had mastectomy and breast reconstrcution, there may not be much sensation in the area to be tattooed. If this is the case, then you are unlikely to feel very much discomfort, but everyone is different. Some patients feel more than others. 

Areola enlargement can be a litle more uncomfortable as most of the time, the tissue to be tattooed is fully in tact.

A test area can be dry tattooed (without ink) to test your tolerance at your consultation (upon request) and if required, an over the counter numbing cream can be purchased and applied before your tattoo appointment. 

5. Healing & Aftercare

You should always make sure that you follow proper aftercare for your tattoo. It is important to use a reputable tattoo aftercare product. This should be provided or recommended by your artist. 

You may find that the area is a little sore after being tattooed. Avoid touching or rubbing the area and wear loose fitting clothing for the few days until the area starts to heal properly. Straight after the procedure, I will dress the area using a sterile dressing or dermalize wrap. You can leave the dermalize wrap on after the treatment and apply fresh wrap/dressings after a day or two in order to keep the area clean and dry whilst healing.  

You may also experience some light scabbing after your areola/nipple tattooing which is completely normal and part of the healing process. 

I invite all of my clients back after about 6 weeks to check the tattoo and retouch any areas that may need it, giving you the peace of mind that you are getting the best result possible.

In conclusion, if you are thinking about getting an areola or nipple tattoo but not sure where to start, check out this 5-step guide to nipple tattoos! The thought may seem a little scary and there’s not a lot of options when it comes to nipple tattooing in Kent. I put together this 5-step guide to nipple tattooing to help people understand  the process and I hope that you’ve found it helpful. If you have, leave a comment below!

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