Mastectomy Tattooing FAQs

What is Areola Tattooing?

Areola tattooing, also referred to as Medical Tattooing, is a highly specialised tattoo. Small sterile needles and high-quality tattoo machines are used to gently implant ink into the top layers of the skin to create a beautiful, realistic areola.

Areola tattooing can also be used to enhance natural nipples, adding shape, increasing size, or boosting the colour. Heart-shaped areola has become a popular trend and offers a fun tattoo alternative for many people.


When tattooing over scar tissue, it is important to wait until the scar has fully ‘matured’. Tattooing over scar tissue before it is fully matured will increase the chances of damaging the scar further and causing more trauma to the skin, which in turn will result in a poorly healed or faded tattoo. As a general rule, a scar is matured when it is no longer red or pigmented, has softened and is no longer tender or itchy.

We advise clients to wait a minimum of 12 months post mastectomy surgery and 6 months post cancer treatment (such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy). Healing a tattoo puts extra strain on your immune system so it is important to let your body fully heal and recover before having a tattoo.

We firmly believe in using permanent tattoo ink for areola tattoos.

Permanent high-quality inks are specifically formulated for detailed tattooed work and go through rigorous health and safety checks as standard procedure. Using permanent tattoo ink is fast becoming a popular choice for many Medical Tattoo Artists, and for very good reason.

In the past Areola Tattooing was mainly performed by Cosmetic Tattoo Artists and Medical Professionals; referred to as ‘Medical Micro-pigmentation’ these types of tattoos were typically done using ‘cosmetic pigment’.

Cosmetic pigment is specially designed to gradually break down and fade in the skin over time, making it a perfect choice for using on the face to execute cosmetic makeup tattoos, such as brows, eyeliners and lips. Using cosmetic pigment on the face allows for changes and adjusts to the cosmetic make up tattoo as the skin ages over time.

However, using cosmetic pigment to produce ‘semi-permanent’ results is NOT safe or suitable for areola tattooing.

Semi-permanent results mean regular ‘top ups’ are required and over time this has a negative impact on the skin, not to mention emotionally on the client. Repeatedly disrupting the already delicate skin and scarred tissue (from surgery) can result in further damage being done to the skin, which can lead to additional scar tissue being created and will cause poor results of the healed tattoo.


Our MTA Artists have been hand-picked for their high level of artistic and tattooing ability, ensuring your areola tattoo is realistic and natural.

Colour swatches are done on the breast area to establish a suitable colour palette that will compliment your skin tone and achieve the desired look. For a unilateral mastectomy, the natural areola is matched in appearance, placement and colour as much as possible to ensure natural results. For a bilateral mastectomy, placement, shape and size are discussed and drawn on to compliment the breasts and create balance and symmetry. You will have time to look at the design in the mirror and make sure you are happy before the tattooing begins.

Appointment length can vary depending on the artist and what type of tattoo you are having done.

Most Areola tattoo appointments take between 1 – 3 hours.

Traditional/decorative Mastectomy Tattoos will vary depending on the complexity and size of your design. Your artist will give you a better idea of how long your appointment will be when you have a consultation.

No, once you are fully healed from surgery it is perfectly safe to have a permanent tattoo over breast implants.

Tattoos are placed in the top layers of the skin (dermis layer), implants are beneath several more layers of dermis, fat and breast tissue. Tattoo needles do not go into these deeper layers of the skin during a tattoo, so they will not interfere with breast implants. It is important to visit a professional and experienced tattoo artist for an Areola Tattoo or a Traditional Tattoo design to ensure it is executed safely and to a high standard. Inexperienced artists could damage the skin and produce poor quality tattoos.

Your artist will provide you with pre-appointment advice but here are a few general things to remember before your appointment:

  • Make sure you are feeling fit and well.
  • Eat a good meal at least 2 hours before your appointment.
  • Avoid alcohol for 24 hours before your appointment.
  • You cannot be tattooed if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or are taking antibiotics.
  • Avoid aspirin-based medication for 48 hours before your appointment.
  • Wear comfortable clothing with a shirt, cardigan or zip hoodie type garment in case you wish to be more covered or feel cold during your tattoo.

The answer is YES and NO.

Surgical incisions and skin/nipple grafts usually cause some damage to the nerve endings in that area, meaning sensation and pain is minimal (if at all) during a tattoo.

However, areola/nipples are a highly sensitive body part, so if you are having your natural areola tattooed then you should expect it to be uncomfortable. Pain is variable from person to person but overall it is completely bearable, most client’s actually find the whole process quite relaxing.

Please note: Do not turn up to your appointment with numbing cream on the area as this can interfere with your natural skin tone, making colour matching impossible and will risk your tattoo healing an unnatural and unsuitable colour.

An 8-10 week follow up appointment is always recommended for 3D Reconstruction Nipple Tattoos. This is to allow the artist to see your healed results and make any necessary final ‘refinements’ to your areola tattoo.

Tattooing scarred or damaged skin is a delicate process and it is important the skin isn’t overworked, as this can cause further trauma. Performing two shorter tattoo sessions is a more manageable approach and allows the skin the time it needs to heal. During your follow up session, you can also make any adjustments to colour, shape and detail.

Tattoos ordinarily heal within 7-14 days, however the skin will continue to settle for a number of weeks. This is why your follow up appointment is 8-10 weeks after your initial tattoo, as it allows the scarred skin plenty of time to rejuvenate and heal completely.

The tattooed area will be dressed in a sterile, breathable dressing and you will be given thorough aftercare advice from your artist at the end of your appointment. 

You will be able to go about your normal daily routines after your tattoo, but you may want to treat yourself to a relaxing and restful evening after your appointment. Swimming, heavy exercise, sun exposure, hot tubs/saunas/hot baths etc must all be avoided until the tattoo is fully healed. The tattooed area may feel a little tender to touch for the first few days, this is normal. It is advisable to wear loose, comfortable clothing over the area during the healing process.

What is the Mastectomy Tattooing Allicance video