Reconstructive Surgery

Nipple tattoo breast reconstruction

(Tattoo pigmentation of nipple-areolar complex)


Nipple tattoo is perhaps the commonest form of areolar reconstruction today. After reconstruction of the nipple (the projection), the areola or pigmented part of the nipple-areolar complex can be fashioned with either a skin graft by the use of tattooing. The skin graft needs to be pigmented enough to mimick a normal areola therefore it is commonly obtained from the inner thigh, the opposite breast or rarely from the labia minora. However, Professor Malata avoids skin grafts for this purpose and prefers to simulate an areola by tattooing thus avoiding another operative site or donor site.

Following nipple reconstruction the areola and the nipple are tattooed with the appropriate pigment for natural colouring 2-3 months after the nipple reconstruction. The colour is chosen to match the opposite areola. Professor Malata often makes the areolar colour slightly darker than the opposite side to compensate for the inevitable fading which occurs with time.

As in any surgery, there are benefits, risks and the final results are not guaranteed.

As in any plastic surgery, there are benefits, risks and the final results are not guaranteed. The chance of complications following nipple tattoing are small Professor Malata will explain how the risks apply to you. Detailed postoperative instructions will be discussed during consultation and a procedure-specific handout given to you by Professor Malata.

Risks of tattoo pigmentation

  • Bleeding

  • Allergic reaction to the dye

  • Infection

  • Rejection of the dye (colour not taking)

  • Asymmetry of the colour or patchy take-up of the dye

  • Partial or total loss of the nipple and/or areola

  • Occasional need to repeat the tattoo due to fading


Alternatives to nipple tattooing

  • No surgery at all
  • Skin graft from inner thigh, other areola or labia minora




WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW (Nipple Tottooing)


45 minutes




Day Case



24 hours until socialising with close friends and family

1 week until return to work and normal social engagements

Showering: 24 hours

Driving 3 – 5 days

2 weeks for swimming

4 weeks until return to gym and other strenuous activities


Fades with time and might require “touch-up”.

To find out more or make an appointment please contact Prof Malata's Secretary on 07455839093 or