According to the CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR), one in eight women in the USA is at risk of developing invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. The treatment of breast cancer can be a long process that takes a toll on a woman’s self-confidence since possible outcomes after treatment include unilateral or bilateral mastectomies.
To regain their confidence, most breast cancer survivors seek breast reconstruction surgery after which they usually opt for a nipple and areola tattoo.
Here’s all you need to know about how to heal tattoos on breasts, including the healing timeline and aftercare.
What to Expect Right After the Tattoo Procedure?
Areola and nipple tattooing is a micro-pigmentation process that involves implanting a small amount of pigment under the surface layer of the skin to create a realistic, 3D nipple reconstruction that lasts for years.
Right after your tattoo procedure, it is normal to experience slight discomfort and tightness in the general area of the tattoo. This may be accompanied by redness and slight swelling.
How long these symptoms last depends mostly on the sensitivity level of your skin, but generally speaking, they should go away after a week or so.
However, post-tattoo symptoms shouldn’t stop you from getting back to your daily routine. Other than a few precautions that ensure how to heal tattoos on breasts properly and abstaining from certain activities such as swimming, sunbathing, and excessive sweating, you’ll be good to go.
Image source: Instagram @browhousestudio
What Does the Nipple Tattoo Healing Process Look Like?
With proper care that includes pre and post-tattoo precautions, the tattoo would take 14 to 21 days to heal completely.
That said, the healing process also depends greatly on the different skin types and lifestyle habits of the person getting it. Some people might even need a touch-up or two to achieve the right shade and color in their tattoos.
Here’s a detailed look at the daily breast tattoo healing process.
The Nipple and Areola Tattoo Healing Process Day by Day
Right after treatment, the tattooed area will be sensitive, red, and swollen.
Your artist will apply a clear bandage, allowing you to shower regularly without getting the tattooed area wet. This bandage is also helpful with fluid buildup since, during those first few days, it is normal for the tattooed area to ooze lymph and even some blood.
During this period, it is normal to experience some tenderness and pain. However, if these symptoms don’t subside by day 5, you may be dealing with an infection, so check with your technician.
During the period of 3-7 days after the procedure, it is safe to remove the bandage and lightly wash the covered area, then let it air dry.
In the following days, scabs will begin to form over the tattooed area. The skin will be covered with a thin crust film, and it’ll probably feel itchy and tight.
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t pick at the scabs. Instead, you can try relieving the discomfort with a moisturizer prescribed by your technician.
Once the tattoo has healed considerably, the scabs will start cracking and falling off on their own.
The peeling process can last for about a week. Some people can even go through a second peeling period, but much less dramatic than the first one.
It is crucial to remember not to pick at flakes and scabs, annoying as they may be. You have to let them fall off on their own since you risk leaving the tattooed area in patches of pigment if you scratch them off.
After the scabs have fallen off, the pigment will appear much lighter than what it was right after the procedure. Surface healing is considered over once the peeling stops, but internal healing takes about 6-8 weeks since that is the estimated time needed for deep tissue recovery.
Once the 6 weeks have passed, you can book a touch-up with your tech and fix any possible imperfection that may have occurred during the healing process.
Image source: Instagram @the.areola.tattooist
What Does the Nipple and Areola Tattoo Aftercare Entitle?
A proper aftercare routine is the key to a successful outcome, meaning: the more attention and care you pay to the treated area, the better it will heal. This will also minimize the chance of infection.
Follow these tips when caring for your freshly done breast tattoo:
- Keep the tattooed area dry during the first 3 days after the procedure
- Use a prescribed balm or ointment and apply over the tattooed area as instructed by your technician
- Don’t get any product except for the prescribed moisturizer on the treated area for 7-10 days
- For added protection and comfort, place gauzes in your bra
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach
- Avoid touching the tattooed area and do not pick at scabs
- Avoid sunbathing, swimming, and any form of excessive sweating (exercise, saunas, etc)
How to Heal Tattoos on Breasts – Main Takeaways
The road to regaining your confidence and feeling like yourself again after mastectomy is one of the biggest challenges a woman can take on in her lifetime.
Thanks to permanent makeup treatments like nipple and areola tattoos, clients that underwent breast reconstruction surgeries are given a chance to feel like their old selves again and experience extremely realistic results.
How to heal tattoos on breasts is relatively simple. The healing process for breast tattoos lasts about 14 to 42 days, and after that period clients can enjoy the results of their nipple and areola tattoos for several years.
Their longevity can be prolonged by making a few lifestyle and skincare changes, like avoiding swimming and tanning during the healing process. A useful tip for prolonging the results is also getting regular touch-ups to keep your nipple and areola tattoos looking fresh and natural for years to come.
For more information, check out our Complete Guide Through Nipple and Areola Tattooing.
Cover image source: Freepik