Often times there will be a doctor or nurse in your surgeon’s office who performs post mastectomy tattooing. They may have attended a weekend workshop or have even less training. Often times, they use whatever machine, needles, and ink that were sold to them by the trainers. This can lead to less than desirable results. Areola restoration is generally completed in 2 visits yet it is not unheard of to repeat the tattoo appointment 3 and 4 times with a physician/surgeon. Many times the client ends up paying more for this process than an out of pocket payment for the same service with a specialized artist.
As with any procedure which you may undergo, ask as many questions as you need to.
Expect clear answers in wording that you understand. Ask about the training your artist has received. Ask to see photos of their work. If you are uncomfortable with any of the answers that you receive from anyone, seek out another opinion. Having proper ink, equipment, and technique used, combined with diligent tattoo aftercare, is essential for the best possible outcome.
Most importantly, do not let anyone tattoo your body if it’s not truly their passion.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT AT MY CONSULTATION?
At your consultation we will discuss your expectations and preferences. We will choose the best color, size, shape, and placement of the tattoo. If you have any images of yourself or someone else that you’d like to replicate, please bring them to your consultation. Additionally my full portfolio will be available for viewing and can aid in selecting a size, shape, and color that may suit you.
We will go over all necessary paperwork to make sure you are a good candidate for areola replication. Items include; a general health history form, a consent form for treatment and photos, as well as detailed list of your current medications.
Areola restoration is a two step process, yielding the most natural and painterly results. The first application is done followed by a perfecting visit 8-10 weeks later. Think of it as how an artist lays the initial foundation for the painting, and then returns to it to add the finishing touches.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF GETTING AN AREOLA TATTOO?
After the size of the areola and nipples are chosen we will map everything out and measure thoroughly for symmetry. We will then mark our design with a surgeon scribe and proceed with topical anesthetics. The definition of tattooing is pigment being implanted under the skin by a configuration of small needles that puncture the skin at a high frequency. The needles implant pigment using the same equipment used for body art tattoos. I use traditional tattoo ink for all breast work, as opposed to permanent makeup pigment.
The appointment will take approximately 2 – 3 HOURS. The actual tattooing will take about 30-45 min for unilateral and 60–90 min for bilateral.
Before and after photos WILL be taken for insurance purposes. This is non negotiable and is part of your tattoo record. It is up to you on whether or not you feel comfortable having your photos used publicly or kept private.
Post procedure the area will be slightly red and feel similar to a sunburn for a few days. You will be given written aftercare instructions as well as an ointment to apply to the area for several days following.
IS THERE ANYTHING I NEED TO DO BEFORE MY APPOINTMENT?
You must be completely healed from your previous surgeries prior to scheduling your consultation. I recommend you waiting at least 6-12 months after your last surgery before having your tattoo. Please bring a prescription/clearance from your physician to your appointment.
Additionally it is recommended that you wait a minimum of 6 weeks after ceasing chemotherapy or the use of cytotoxic antineoplastic agents and that your counts be within an acceptable range (per your physician) to move forward with areola replication.
-You do not have to stop using immunosuppressive medication but know it can delay/ prolong healing.
-If you are Diabetic, your HBA1C must be in a good range and again your condition can prolong healing.
Skin must be completely free of tinted lotions, spray tan, etc.
Please avoid alcohol and caffeine for 24 hours before your tattoo appointment.
I recommend wearing a bra to your appointment as it is helpful post procedure with holding the dressing in place afterwards.
DOES THE TATTOO FADE?
Yes, in varying degrees. Initially, the tattoo will look very bright and darker than the actual ink used. As the skin heals the skin cells that were damaged from the trauma of the tattooing process shed and are replaced by new, pigment-free cells. This is why the color may look less deep and vibrant later on compared to when it was first tattooed. With proper healing and aftercare, your tattoo can look beautiful for years to come.
This is a two step process and a touchup visit is required. Occasionally an additional session is needed. If this is necessary this can be done at a reduced fee per the tattooer’s discretion if performed within the 1st year.
DOES IT HURT?
Pain is subjective as everyone has varying degrees of tolerance but most patients find the process to be very tolerable. Also, there usually is decreased sensation of the skin to a more or less degree, depending on the type of breast reconstruction you had. Tattooing is a superficial process and afterwards feels comparable to a minor sunburn for a few days. Topical anesthetics aid in making the procedure more comfortable.
BILLING AND INSURANCE
The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 requires insurance to cover postmastectomy reconstruction, including areola/nipple tattooing. Insurance may reimburse some of the cost of procedures. I can provide you with a receipt and charting notes to turn into your insurance provider for POSSIBLE reimbursement. You must turn the receipt in with a prescription from your physician’s office for the tattoo including medically appropriate diagnosis & CPT codes on the Rx itself. It is suggested that you check with your provider prior to your procedure to be sure this service is covered.
I NEVER guarantee your insurance company will reimburse you or to what amount. I am NOT a participating provider with ANY insurance company so, I’m considered out of network. I also do NOT do any prior authorizations with insurance because I am not a participating provider with any insurance company.
It is your responsibility to call and find out what they require for your plan. After your tattoo, I am happy to send in my procedure documentation to aid in your reimbursement.
I appreciate you considering me to be part of your journey and I look forward to meeting you and answering any questions you may have regarding post mastectomy tattooing.