Cosmetic Surgery Tips

3d nipple tattoos breast reconstruction uk

3D nipple tattoos are becoming more common for breast reconstruction patients. They’re a beautiful way to achieve the look and feel of natural nipples, and they can be used in combination with other surgical procedures like the DIEP flap.

In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of 3D nipple tattoos and how they can be used for breast reconstruction.

What is a 3D nipple tattoo?

A 3D nipple tattoo is a permanent makeup procedure that uses fine needles and pigments to create realistic-looking nipples. It’s considered a cosmetic procedure, so it’s not covered by insurance—but it’s still an excellent option for women who have undergone breast cancer treatment or mastectomy.

The procedure takes several hours and requires multiple sessions over the course of two weeks to complete. The artist will first create a stencil using photographs taken during your consultation, then use the stencil to guide them as they apply pigment to your skin using small needles. The entire process is performed under local anesthesia so you won’t feel any discomfort during treatment!

3d nipple tattoos breast reconstruction uk

Breast Augmentation Explained 

The latest-generation breast implants are made of highly cohesive silicone gel with a textured or smooth outer coating, and the shape can be either round or in the shape of a drop (anatomical implant). There are also implants with cohesive gel but coated in a material called polyurethane, available both with a round and anatomical shape.

Depending on the patient’s characteristics and the surgeon’s preferences, the incisions are made in the inframammary fold, around the areola or in the axillary region.

The incision gives access to the surgical plane where the implant is going to sit, which can be sub-glandular, sub-fascial or under-muscular or dual plane.

During your appointment, the surgeon Domenico Mileto will evaluate the shape and size of the breast, the consistency and elasticity of the skin, the mammary gland and the characteristics of the chest, and will be able to suggest the shape and size of the implant that best fits your physical characteristics, the type of incision and the most suitable procedure.

Breast Augmentation is always performed in the operating room, with general anaesthesia or sedation. Usually, a night of hospitalisation is required.

When necessary at the end of the surgery, drainage tubes might be inserted. They serve to facilitate the removal of small bleedings in the first hours after surgery and they will be removed the day after surgery. The surgery lasts about 1 hour.

After surgery, a slightly compressive bandage will be placed on your breast; it will be removed the day after surgery; instead of the bandages, the patient will have to wear a sports bra for about 1 month. The stitches will be removed after 5-7 days.

The period of convalescence after a breast augmentation is short; the patient usually returns to work after 1-2 weeks, being careful to avoid arm effort and suspend physical activities for 6 weeks.



Qualified Medical Tattooist, Helen Aldous specialises in creating artistic realistic nipples for women after breast cancer, mastectomy and reconstruction. We are one of the very few studios in the UK offering a PERMANENT NO-FADE 3D Nipple Tattoo service. What this means is that we create 3D Nipple Tattoos which won’t fade or need retouching, unlike micro-pigmentation/cosmetic nipples. This is similar to the service offered by Vinnie Myers in the USA.

To view images of finished & healed Nipples visit 3D Nipple Tattoo Gallery

For more on the difference between micro pigmentation nipples and our permanent no-fade nipples click here.


As far as we know Helen is the first person in the UK qualified both through a professional traditional Tattoo Apprenticeship and also in Medical Tattooing for Areola, Scars & Burns by an NHS approved training provider. This allows her to combine industry best practice with the craft of traditional tattoo to create both cover up body art tattoos and camouflage work for people who have scarring after surgery or trauma. She loves using her artistic skills to help her clients recover and lead their best life.

We are pleased to be able to make this service available to people in the UK.


The studio and Helen are fully licensed and checked by Kirklees Council to the highest hygiene standards.

Helen is fully trained in the application of Universal Precautions to medical professional standard to prevent cross-contamination and ensure client safety. We use the fully disposable Cheyenne Hawk needle system, which ensures new sterilised needles for each client. Tattoos are completed using extremely high-quality permanent Ink.

We work hard to make sure that the studio is friendly and welcoming, a world away from the medicalised spaces we encounter during cancer treatment. For photos of the studio please check here. 

As the studio is quiet and private, clients do not have to deal with the hussle and bustle of a busy tattoo studio.

Nipple and Areola 3D Tattooing - Penn Medicine Cosmetic Services


The Studio, Secret Garden Private Tattoo Studio, is located just outside Holmfirth, near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. It is approximately 6 miles from Huddersfield. We are ideally centrally located for access from cities such as Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, and Bradford and can be easily accessed from surrounding areas such as Cheshire, North Yorkshire, Liverpool, The Midlands, Carlisle and The Lake District , Lincolnshire, Wales and Scotland . We are located near to the M62 and can be easily reached from the M1.

The studio itself is in a quiet village with ample on street parking, so you do not have to do battle with inner city traffic.

Huddersfield is a pleasant part of the world with beautiful countryside and local attractions. If you are visiting from further afield why not stay overnight and explore the area.

Holmfirth is the famously picturesque location for the long-running sitcom, “Last of the Summer Wine” and has a wide variety of great restaurants and character pubs and shops. Yorkshire Sculpture Park is well worth a visit and Fox Valley and Meadowhall shopping centres are within easy reach. We are always happy to advise on the local area if you are staying overnight.

3D tattooing after breast reconstruction

Smiling looking in mirror

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in the U.S. women with about 1 in 8 women diagnosed over the course of 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 own tissue or implants to restore the appearance of natural breasts and improve her confidence and self-image after cancer.

A few months after reconstruction surgery is complete, women can decide to restore the appearance of their missing nipples and areolas with a nipple reconstruction procedure or 3D tattoos. During a nipple reconstruction procedure, a surgeon uses skin from the breast to rebuild the nipple; whereas, a 3D tattoo adds color to the nipple and areola areas. A woman can select one, both or neither of these optional procedures.

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 color-matched to each patient, and the goal is to restore the natural appearance of the breast.

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 is 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 the tattoo, as well.

How many sessions are required?

For most women, the procedure is completed in the clinic over the course of 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 away from any scarring and leads the eye to a new focal point rather than just the scars across the breasts.

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

It’s important that a woman has completed all of her reconstruction surgeries and cancer treatments before getting a 3D tattoo. We usually wait about three months after 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 also is available for women who have had mastectomy surgeries years ― or even decades ― ago when 3D tattooing wasn’t available.

Are 3D tattoos covered by insurance?

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

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

Understand Your Treatment Plan

How Long Does An Areola Tattoo Take?

Areola tattooing typically takes 3 sessions and your appointments may take up to 2.5 hours. Camouflaging of breast scars generally takes 2-4 sessions and about an hour to treat. See more about scar camouflage on our dedicated page.

What Happens During The Consultation?

We’ll chat through exactly what you’d like the end result to be. This will include looking at your areola shape, size, placement and colourings. Then your technician will ‘pre-draw’ the areola and nipple complex using temporary markers and perfectly match the pigment shades to your skin. This is to make sure the correct style and colours are chosen and the finished result is as natural as possible. You can book a consultation by visiting our contact page.

What Happens During Areola Tattoo Treatment?

Your expert technician will skilfully infuse the colour into your skin while carefully tracing over the pre-drawn template that you’ve chosen.

Does 3D Areola Reconstruction Hurt?

We want you to be completely comfortable during the treatment. If you still have sensation following your surgery, we’ll make sure numbing agents are applied and continually check how you’re feeling. Our clients usually describe the discomfort as no more than 3 out of 10.

What Kind Of Training Does The Technician Have To Have?

All our technicians are fully accredited and have been through our training course, which is recognised by special treatments licensing as well as VTCT and ITEC.

Will I Be Able To Go Back To Work Straight Afterwards?

Absolutely. Typically the area around your treatment may be slightly red for 36 hours and we apply a sterile dressing, which you wear under your clothes for up to 5 days.

Do You Provide Aftercare?

Yes – for all our areola treatments complimentary tune-up and aftercare products are included. For camouflaging breast scars we charge as individual sessions. You can also find out more about aftercare on our dedicated adKvice page.

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