Breast Nipple Reconstruction, Nipple Tattooing, and Nipple Sparing Mastectomy

About Nipple Reconstruction, Tattooing, and Nipple Sparing Mastectomy

With a standard mastectomy, all of the skin around the breast is preserved with the nipple surgically removed. This is called a skin-sparing mastectomy (SSM.)

Following breast reconstruction, women may choose to have the nipple reconstructed through a technique using the transferred skin of the breast reconstruction surgery. At the reconstructed breast, a circle of skin is left to be used later to reconstruct the nipple. This is a minor procedure done as an outpatient three months or so after the breast reconstruction operation. Once everything is healed, in about six weeks, the nipple is tattooed. The results of this final operation complete the reconstruction and make the entire breast look very real and normal.

Many women are now opting to have nipple sparing mastectomy (NSM).  In these cases there is no need for nipple reconstruction or tattooing.

Area of nipple tattooing in breast reconstruction


After nipple reconstruction and when all of the incisions are totally healed, tattooing is done to re-create the normal color of the nipple-areola complex. This is a minor procedure done in the office, and it takes about an hour.

This is done by a tattoo specialist in medical tattooing.