Permanent Makeup for Cancer Survivors: A Guide to Areola Restoration

Dec 19 , 2023

Permanent Makeup for Cancer Survivors: A Guide to Areola Restoration

Cancer survivors are some of the strongest and most courageous people, having gone through a journey that extends far beyond the physical challenges of their disease.

Breast cancer, in particular, can bring about profound transformations, including the loss of the areola, which can be a heartbreaking symbol of strength.

In this guide, we seek to understand and support those who have undergone mastectomy, by exploring the process of areola restoration through permanent makeup.

Understanding the Need

Source: University of Rochester Medical Center


Breast cancer survivors often battle with the emotional toll of mastectomy, where the absence of the areola serves as a constant reminder of their challenging journey. Areola restoration, utilizing the help of permanent makeup, addresses this need by providing a solution beyond just the physical appearance. In recognizing the emotional impact of mastectomy, areola restoration becomes a beacon of hope, providing survivors with a path toward reclaiming physical as well as emotional completeness.

How Breast Cancer Can Shape Your Body Image

The physical, emotional, and psychological impact of breast cancer on survivors cannot be overstated. The loss of the areola represents a deeply emotional aspect of identity and self-image, and its absence can greatly affect a survivor's sense of wholeness. In addition, the absence of an areola can also cause physical discomfort and hinder the ability to breastfeed. Areola restoration plays a vital role in addressing these emotional challenges.

It's vital for those men and women who fought breast cancer to have this final step to make them feel whole or even complete because it has a significant impact on their mental health.” - Laura Rose, a breast cancer survivor (Breast cancer survivor feels complete after nipple tattoo, BBC)

Source: Body Image Concerns in Patients with Breast Cancer

The Consultation Process

Source: Strength and Hope for Women in the Mist of Cancer - Oncology Nurse Advisor


The initial step in areola restoration involves a thoughtful and comprehensive consultation with a skilled and empathetic permanent makeup artist. During this session, survivors can openly discuss their concerns, preferences, and expectations. The artist evaluates skin tone, texture, and scar tissue to tailor the restoration to each individual's unique characteristics.



Source: The inspirational Adelady helping women with nipple tattoos - Adelady

1. Choosing Colors and Pigments

Areola restoration begins with the selection of colors and pigments that harmonize with the survivor's natural skin tone, ensuring a seamless and natural-looking result.

2. Creating Dimension

Utilizing specialized techniques, the permanent makeup artist recreates the three-dimensional (3D) appearance of a natural areola, considering shading and texture for a realistic effect.

3. Ensuring Comfort

Prioritizing the well-being and comfort of the client, the procedure incorporates the application of topical anesthetics to minimize discomfort during the application process as the area is considered sensitive.

Who Can Benefit from 3D Nipple and Areola Tattoos?

While the majority of breast cancer cases occur in women, it's worth noting that men, although less commonly affected, can also develop this disease. According to the Cancer Council, “ It is estimated that more than 200 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2023.” Anyone who has undergone mastectomy or breast reconstruction and desires a natural-looking areola can benefit from the 3D nipple and areola tattoos. This procedure is a transformative option for individuals seeking emotional healing and aesthetic enhancement and is not exclusive only to a specific gender.

Source:“Lucy Thompson, Did You Know Men Can Get Breast Cancer Too?"

The 3D Nipple and Areola Tattoo ProcesSource: 3-D Nipple Tattoo - East Alabama Plastic Surgery


The 3D nipple and areola tattoo process involves advanced techniques to create a lifelike and realistic appearance. The artist focuses on intricate details, such as shading and dimension, to achieve the desired outcome.


The design phase is a collaborative effort between the survivor and the permanent makeup artist. It involves choosing colors, discussing preferences, and ensuring that the final design aligns with the survivor's vision.

Post-Procedure Care

After the areola restoration procedure, survivors receive detailed care instructions. This includes guidance on cleaning the treated area, avoiding specific activities, and attending follow-up appointments. Proper aftercare is crucial for the longevity and success of the restoration.

Closing Perspectives

In celebrating this journey, we acknowledge the courage within each survivor, embracing the idea that healing is not linear but a continuous, empowering process. Areola's restoration becomes a brushstroke of strength, painting a portrait of wholeness and reclaiming one's narrative after the storm. As a survivor, each client should take pride in having faced such a difficult journey. It is a testament to their incredible strength, and they now stand with the privilege of a second chance at life—an opportunity to embrace every moment with newfound appreciation and resilience. 

Enjoy this video about areola restoration through cosmetic tattooing on YouTube: Breast cancer survivors find renewed confidence in 3D Areola Tattooing.

Understanding Areola Tattooing: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you dye your areolas?

Many people wonder if dyeing their areolas is a viable option. However, areola tattooing is a more appropriate and specialized procedure that uses pigments to recreate the natural look of the areola.

Are areola tattoos safe?

Yes, areola tattoos are generally considered safe. Like any tattoo, there is a minimal risk of infection or allergic reaction. Adhering to proper aftercare instructions is crucial to minimize potential risks.

How many sessions are required for a complete areola restoration?

The number of sessions varies based on individual factors. On average, survivors may need 1-2 sessions, ideally spaced six weeks apart, to achieve optimal results.

How soon after breast reconstruction can I consider areola tattooing?

Typically, individuals can consider areola tattooing about four months after breast reconstruction. However, this timeline may vary based on individual healing processes.

Will the color of the tattoo change over time?

Initially, the tattoo may appear slightly darker than the intended color. Over 2-3 weeks, it will settle into the desired shade. A follow-up session can be scheduled for color adjustments if necessary.

Are there any risks or side effects associated with areola tattooing?

Risks are minimal, but like any tattoo, there is a possibility of infection or allergic reactions. Following aftercare instructions is crucial to minimize potential side effects.

Can areola tattooing be done if I didn't undergo nipple reconstruction?

Yes, areola tattooing can enhance the appearance of the breast even if nipple reconstruction wasn't performed. It creates the illusion of a real nipple, improving overall aesthetic balance.

When can I resume normal activities after the procedure?

Most daily activities can be resumed shortly after the procedure. However, it's advised to avoid swimming, excessive sweating, or allowing the fresh tattoo to touch a bra without a barrier for a specified period.