Breast Tattoo Cancer

What is a mastectomy tattoo? Some people consider having a decorative tattoo on their breast or chest after breast cancer surgery. This is

Breast Tattoo Cancer



Breast Tattoo Cancer

Breast Tattoo Cancer

What is a mastectomy tattoo? Some people consider having a decorative tattoo on their breast or chest after breast cancer surgery. This is sometimes referred to as a 'mastectomy tattoo', but could be after breast-conserving surgery, a mastectomy or breast reconstruction.

Why Might Someone Get a Breast Cancer Tattoo?

Someone might want a breast cancer tattoo for a variety of different reasons. Whether you are a person with breast cancer or someone you love has it, it's a way to show your support for the cause as a whole. If you are getting one, you likely have a deep connection with breast cancer in one way or another.

What tattoo symbolizes breast cancer?

Butterflies are often a symbol associated with breast cancer. Families sometimes view butterflies as signs of their loved ones that have passed. You might see a certain kind of butterfly frequently and want to get that specific one tattooed onto you.

Are tattoos a cancer risk?

Getting a tattoo can show how you've overcome cancer and fought against it; it could be in support of someone you love who has opposed it, or it can memorialize a person who lost their battle.

Whatever the reason is, finding the design that fits you best is a great way to show how much it means to you.

Breast Cancer Tattoo Ideas

Many symbols can connect to breast cancer, but finding the one that fits you best is essential. This list is not exhaustive, but it may spark some inspiration!


Ribbons are one of the most notorious symbols of breast cancer, specifically the pink ribbon. If you or a loved one is a survivor or has lost their battle, this symbol signifies their resilience and your love for them.

You can customize this tattoo so that it's unique for you. You might add words such as "Hope" or "Strength" into the design or incorporate names or dates of loved ones afflicted. You can also add other symbols like flowers or butterflies with which you connect.


Butterflies are often a symbol associated with breast cancer. Families sometimes view butterflies as signs of their loved ones that have passed. You might see a certain kind of butterfly frequently and want to get that specific one tattooed onto you.


You can customize your butterfly tattoo to be any butterfly species with any other design incorporated. Placement for butterflies is so diverse that their size and style might vary. From traditional style to fine-line, tattoo artists know how common these pretty and meaningful tattoos can be.


Birds symbolize freedom and strength, representing breast cancer survivors and their willingness to persevere. Similarly to butterflies, you might hold specific bird species closer to your heart if there is a connection to a loved one.

Some say red cardinals are their good luck charm, and others may view the rare visit from a hummingbird as a sign from beyond the veil.

Birds can come in many styles, so you can find an artist whose style matches your vision. A plain outline or claw prints might do if you are looking for someone minimal.


Flowers symbolize many things and can be an excellent base for breast cancer tattoos. You can easily incorporate flowers into different designs, including names and dates.

Whether a specific flower represents a loved one or a bouquet symbolizes your immense beauty and strength, they make for beautiful and unique tattoos.

You can work with an artist to create a unique and specific design and make changes if needed. Whether you want a few flowers, an outline, or something more abstract, the meaning behind it will be just as strong.

Spiritual Symbols

Religious and spiritual symbols, such as a cross, chakras, a rosary, or angel wings, can also represent a person's struggle with breast cancer. Even if you aren't religious, you might find that during a period of struggle, like when dealing with breast cancer, you look for signs to bring out hope in you.

You might associate your breast cancer struggles with a beautiful large tree with deep roots, so you want to get that vision tattooed onto you. No one will judge you for how you got through your time with breast cancer.

Memorial Designs

Those who have passed, consider getting a memorial tattoo done. This might incorporate various design elements to come up with the perfect fit.

To truly encapsulate the person you lost, you will want to include things that remind you of them and bring you peace when you think about them.

Working with an artist to bring your work to life can be scary, but this piece will finally come together once you find the right one. Then, you can have that person with you for the rest of your life.

Help Heal Your Tattoo With Mad Rabbit

Aftercare for a tattoo dedicated to someone else (or for yourself) is critical. You want the tattoo to look as good as possible for as long as possible.

Using tattoo lotion and keeping it clean with antibacterial soap will help you through the healing process. With Mad Rabbit's products, you can have your tattoo looking bright and bold for longer than the average person.

This tattoo means something to you, and protecting it is essential. Whether with sunscreen or just by covering it up and staying out of swimming pools, your tattoo will heal properly. For years, you'll have a bold tattoo showcasing a piece of your journey and struggles.
Nipple-areola tattooing is when a tattoo artist or plastic surgeon recreates the nipple and areola after breast reconstruction surgery.

Nipple reconstruction involves recreating a nipple using small pieces of skin from the reconstructed breast. A few months later, a surgeon can recreate the areola using tattoo ink.

Those who do not want to undergo nipple reconstruction can instead opt for a realistic image of a nipple by a tattoo artist.

Although some people feel that nipple reconstruction, whether from surgery or tattooing, is a crucial step to move forward, others do not. In the end, the choice is entirely up to the individual.

This article discusses what a 3D nipple-areola tattoo is, the benefits and risks of getting one, and tips on aftercare and recovery.

What is a nipple tattoo?

Nipple-areola tattooing is a cosmetic procedure to help recreate an individual's nipple.

Although nipple reconstruction is a popular choice for many, some people may decide to get permanent 3D nipple tattoos instead.

An experienced tattoo artist can create images of highly realistic-looking nipples. These tattoos will appear to be 3D but will be flat to the touch.

For those who have undergone a unilateral mastectomy, it is possible to match the colour, shape, and texture of the existing nipple.

This procedure typically follows breast reconstruction surgery, but some individuals may use tattooing after a nipple reconstruction surgery to add colour or make their new nipple or nipples appear more realistic.

Nipple tattooing offers a less invasive alternative to surgery.

What to expect during the procedure

A person can expect the entire appointment to take 1–2 hours.

Before the tattooing, the tattoo artist will discuss the colours, placement, and size with the person getting the tattoo.

If the person has one of their natural nipples, the artist will match that person's size and colour. If the person has had both nipples removed, it may be beneficial to bring in a picture from before the surgery.

To determine the colour, they will look at a palette of pigments, including pinks, browns, purples, tans, and beiges.

After mixing the pigments, the tattoo artist will apply a small amount to the skin so that the person can see how it looks in different lighting.

To help decide on the placement, the tattoo artist may use a silicone nipple. They will then draw markings to show the new areola's location, shape, and size.

It can take approximately 30 minutes to tattoo one nipple.

Aftercare and recovery

Once the procedure is complete, the artist will apply a bandage to the tattoo. It usually takes 7–10 days for a nipple tattoo to heal. However, healing can take up to a few weeks for thinner skin.

Once the tattoo is complete, the colour is typically darker and more intense. The tattoo will lighten slightly as it heals. However, after 1–2 months, there should be no further colour change.

Following the tattoo artist's aftercare instructions will help the tattoo heal faster.

During recovery, a person should avoid chlorinated pools, bathtubs, hot tubs, and direct sun exposure. People can also apply antibacterial ointment to the area to prevent infection.

Does it hurt?

The reconstructed breast will not have the same sensations as before the mastectomy. As a result, the tattooing is not usually painful.

However, some people may experience mild discomfort or pain.

Benefits and risks

A person may opt to get a nipple tattoo as an alternative to undergoing surgery. This prevents the creation of new scars. In addition, the healing and recovery process is more straightforward than that of nipple reconstruction.

Some people find that the results are better than if they had undergone nipple reconstruction surgery. This is because the tattoo can include fine details, colouring, and shading that may make it look more realistic.

However, similar to getting a traditional tattoo, getting a nipple-areola tattoo carries a few risks, which can include:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Infections
  • Granuloma, which is a small area of inflammation
  • Keloids, which are raised scars
  • Dissatisfaction with the final result
  • Although the procedure is standard and well-tolerated, some people may experience a delayed
  • hypersensitivity reaction. This is otherwise known as a delayed allergic reaction.

A person in a 2019 case study Trusted Source, experienced a delayed reaction seven weeks after the procedure despite not reacting to the skin allergy test.

A person interested in 3D nipple tattooing should speak with a healthcare professional about any potential risks.

Where to get a nipple tattoo

A person can get a nipple tattoo from a staff member at a plastic surgeon's office or a qualified nipple tattoo artist.

Finding an artist specializing in permanent areola and restorative tattooing is an essential first step to getting a nipple-areola tattoo.

Although some individuals may have a tattoo artist in mind, others may ask a doctor, surgeon, or local cancer support group, Trusted Source, for advice or referrals.

Once they have found a potential tattoo artist, the person may find it beneficial to ask to see a portfolio of the artist's work. They can also ask about the sterilization practices the artist uses and whether or not they have a private room for tattooing.

Costs and insurance coverage

Although the cost of nipple tattooing varies, the average price of one tattoo is around $350. A person can expect to pay $600–$800 for both nipples.

The Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) of 1998 requires group health plans and individual health insurance policies that offer mastectomy coverage to pay for all stages of reconstruction surgery. This includes any additional procedures a person may need to treat further complications.

Medicare often covers nipple-areola tattooing, while Medicaid coverage varies from state to state. Insurance may not cover nipple tattooing if an independent artist performs the procedure.

Who is unable to get 3D nipple tattoos?

A person may not be eligible to get nipple tattoos if they:

  • have undergone radiation treatments that have damaged the skin
  • have breast skin is too thin
  • have lymphedema involving the chest
  • have a history of infections in the area of the breast
  • Other options
  • If a person does not want to undergo nipple tattooing or is unable to do so, other noninvasive options are available.

Different types of nipple reconstruction include the following.

Prosthetic nipples

People who cannot or do not want to get nipple reconstruction surgery or nipple tattoos may want to try prosthetics or stick-on nipples.

According to the ACS Trusted Source, prosthetic nipples are made of silicone and look and feel like natural nipples. Some prosthetic nipples are self-sticking, while others have a unique skin adhesive.

Prosthetic nipples come in a variety of sizes, colours, and projections.

Temporary nipple tattoos

People who are apprehensive about getting a permanent tattoo can opt to use temporary nipple tattoos.

Temporary nipple tattoos are easy to apply and are removable with rubbing alcohol. Temporary nipple tattoos can last for 1–2 weeks, depending on the brand a person uses.


Nipple-areola tattooing is a procedure in which a medical specialist or experienced tattoo artist recreates the appearance of a person's natural nipple.

Although flat to the touch, these tattoos appear 3D and realistic.

Many people opt to undergo some form of nipple reconstructive, but the choice itself is up to the individual.

3D tattooing after breast reconstruction

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in the U.S. women, with about 1 in 8 women diagnosed throughout their lifetime. In about 35% of cases, a mastectomy is part of a woman's treatment plan and involves removing all tissue in one or both breasts, sometimes including the nipples and areolas. While it is considered a lifesaving procedure for women with breast cancer, it can take an emotional toll that can lead to a distorted self-image.

Breast reconstruction is a series of optional procedures that uses a woman's tissue or implants to restore the appearance of natural breasts and improve her confidence and self-image after cancer.

What is a 3D tattoo?

A 3D tattoo uses pigments to replicate the areola on a woman's reconstructed breast. It uses light and dark pigments to create a 3D illusion and make it appear that the woman has an areola and nipple after they have been removed during surgery. The pigments are colour-matched to each patient, and the goal is to restore the breast's natural appearance.

Are 3D tattoos painful?

No, unlike a traditional tattoo, 3D tattooing is a comfortable, nearly pain-free procedure for women because the breasts are numb after a mastectomy. Aftercare and recovery are similar to a traditional tattoo with light coverage for a few days, cleansing with antibacterial soap and applying fragrance-free, gentle lotion until healed. Mayo Clinic Health System provides aftercare instructions and products to care for tattoos.

How many sessions are required?

Most women complete the procedure in the clinic throughout two visits. The initial visit takes two hours. That's when the woman works with the health care provider to select pigments and determine the position of the areolas. Then, the tattooing is performed. The second visit is six to eight weeks later for pigment touch-up and evaluation.

What are the benefits of 3D tattoos?

Some women have said that their breasts appear incomplete without nipples or areolas, similar to a face without a nose. Tattooed areolas and nipples help women focus less on what is missing and eliminate the constant visual reminder of their cancer journeys.

Many women also have reported that it improves intimacy with their partners because it helps partners feel more comfortable with their new breasts. Also, it distracts from any scarring and leads the eye to a unique focal point rather than just the scars across the breasts.

How soon after reconstruction can I get a 3D tattoo?

A woman must complete all her reconstruction surgeries and cancer treatments before getting a 3D tattoo. We usually wait about three months after the completion of reconstruction to make sure that all incisions have healed properly and allow time for the new breast tissue or implants to settle into their natural positions.

3D tattoos are not only for women with a recent cancer journey. The procedure is also available for women who have had mastectomy surgeries years ― or even decades ― ago when 3D tattooing wasn't available.

Does insurance cover 3D tattoos?

Typically, 3D tattoos are covered by private insurance, but women are encouraged to check with their healthcare insurance providers regarding coverage. A private pay option is also available.

Some people get a traditional tattoo to mark a milestone or celebrate a moment. A 3D nipple and areola tattoo is no different. For many women, a 3D tattoo is the final step in their cancer journey. It's like the cherry on top of the sundae and a celebration that she has reached the end of her cancer journey.