Areola restoration proves how connected we can all be and is a step towards inclusion for all. For breast cancer survivors and those who have undergone mastectomies, areola restoration can be an important final act in the reconstruction process.

Every mastectomy result is different and your breasts are uniquely yours. You have the right to the individualized areola tattoo and peace of mind that Tahnee's artistic eye can provide for you.


Frequently asked questions

How long will the areola restoration tattoo last?

While tattoos are expected to last a lifetime, we are using colors lighter than a standard tattoo so some fading may occur over the course of many years. We can always schedule a follow-up appointment to see if a touch-up is necessary to have the color refreshed.

What is areola restoration?

Areola restoration can be an important final step in the breast reconstruction process and is a type of tattoo applied with needles that deposit medical-grade pigment into the shallow upper layer of the skin. The skin heals over the pigment and a soft natural areola/nipple is created. Many clients find that areola restoration helps them return to a sense of self.

Is areola restoration painful?

Most clients report that there is no pain in the reconstructed breast, but each case is different depending on your particular surgery and there may be a small amount of sensation. Your artist will apply a topical numbing cream to minimize any pain.

What are the aftercare instructions and what should I avoid after the session?

Healing Process

  • Days 1-7: Immediately after the session, the pigment on the surface of the skin will appear darker and bolder. You may also experience slight redness and swelling which is normal.
  • Days 7-14: The area will begin to flake and peel, sometimes creating a patchy appearance until the entire areola has finished exfoliating. Immediately after peeling, the healing epidermis will cause the areaola to appear light or muted as your skin is still naturally exfoliating. This is a normal part of the healing process. You may experience some light flaking and itching but do not pick or scratch at the area.
  • Days 14 and beyond: The epidermis will normalize, and the true color of your areola will show. Healed results will vary with each individual and additional sessions may be required to obtain optimal results.
Areola Restoration Aftercare
  • You will leave your session with a protective covering that you will leave on and wear for 1 week. During this time you can shower normally.
  • Remove the protective covering 1 week after your session.
  • Gently wash the area with a clean hands, morning and night, using warm water only. Do not use soap or other cleansers.
  • Pat area completely dry with a paper towel.
  • Gently apply a thin layer of the provided ointment with a clean Q-Tip.
  • Do not touch the area with your hands.
  • Do not use heavy creams on the area.
  • Repeat the aftercare instructions morning and night until the areola has fully finished peeling (approximately 10-14 days).
What to avoid during the healing process (not following the aftercare protocol could result in loss of color and premature fading)
  • Do not touch the area until the skin is fully healed
  • Do not scratch or pick at scabs, dry skin, or flakiness until skin is fully healed
  • Do not sleep on your stomach until skin is fully healed (make sure clothes and other material that come into contact with the area are clean)
  • Do not exercise and sweat heavily for 7 days after your appointment
  • Avoid swimming pools, hot tubs, saunas, and other bodies of water for 14 days after your appointment
  • Avoid UV exposure, including the sun and tanning beds for 30 days after your appointment
  • Avoid exfoliants and lightening creams and waxing in that area for 30 days after your appointment
  • Avoid laser light therapy in that area for 6 weeks after your appointment
  • Avoid massages and other skin treatments for 6 weeks after your appointment

What should I do to prepare for the session?

We will cover preparation with you in detail during your consultation session.

  • 4 weeks before your appointment
    • It is highly recommended that you avoid sun exposure and tanning in the breast area for 4 weeks before your appointment since the pigment will fade as your skin exfoliates from a sunburn. If you show up for your appointment with a new tan or a sunburn, you will need to reschedule.
  • 3 days before your appointment
    • Avoid using exfoliators 3 days before your appointment since they may inflame the skin.
    • Avoid any blood-thinning medication. This includes Vitamin E, aspirin, niacin, fish oil supplements, and ibuprofen.
  • The day before and day of your appointment
    • Do not drink any alcohol the night before and day of your appointment.
    • Do not drink caffeine the day of your appointment.
  • Other considerations
    • If you are going on vacation, it is recommended to plan your trip a minimum of 14 days after your appointment.

How long should I wait after breast reconstruction surgery to get areola restoration?

You should check with your medical surgeon for their recommendation on how long to wait after breast reconstruction surgery. The waiting period is important in order to give your breasts the necessary time to heal and settle into their final position.

How are areola color and size determined?

During your consultation, we will work together to determine the best size for your breast shape, as well as color to match your skin tone to make you feel most like yourself. If you still have one of your original nipples, your artist will match the reconstructed nipple and areola to the color, size, and placement of the original. If you had reconstruction in both breasts and have pictures of them prior to the reconstruction, your artist can also use those as a reference point if you desire (check with your surgeon for pictures if you don’t have them).

With any of the approaches we take, your artist will first draw out the areola on your skin so that you can approve the shape and placement before any ink is deposited.

What can I expect during the session?

The areola restoration process can take 2-3 hours, including numbing, layout and pigment color selection. During the appointment, your artist will talk to you about preferences for nipple and areola size, shape, placement and color. To avoid transferring ink to your clothing, you will remove your top and bra and you will be provided a paper vest. At the end of the service, the tattooed area is dressed in a protective covering. Unless you have a tape/adhesive allergy, wearing a bra is optional but not required.

Will the needle used puncture my implant?

No, the needle only goes into the dermis which is the shallow layer of the skin.

Are the pigments used MRI safe?

Yes. Our pigments are vegan, sterile, and made from iron oxides, which are MRI safe. They are manufactured with the highest quality available, resulting in excellent color retention and beautiful results. In very rare cases, people experience brief swelling or burning in the tattooed area when they get an MRI. Let your healthcare professional know that you have had areola reconstruction before an MRI is ordered.

I had nipple reconstruction. Can I still get areola restoration?

Yes, the reconstructed nipple, as well as the area around it, can still be tattooed, but follow-up visits may be needed to ensure adequate pigment retention in the area.

Do you accept healthcare insurance?

By law, insurance companies are required to cover the procedure. Unfortunately, they can choose who they will work with. Since we are not health care providers, we are not able to bill insurance directly. We suggest you contact your insurance company to ask them what their protocol is for covering this service. We will provide you with an itemized receipt, including all the codes and information insurance companies require, that some clients have submitted to insurance for reimbursement. Though we are unable to guarantee that your insurance company will cover the service, we are here to help in any way we can. Some clients are pleasantly surprised their insurance will provide an easy way to submit receipts, some are disappointed. There are grants available via The United Breast Cancer Foundation to help offset the expenses of areola restoration.