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Permanent Nipple Tattoos after Breast Cancer can help you to reach the end of your Breast Cancer journey. Permanent Nipple Tattoos won’t fade away, allowing you to put treatment behind you and move forward into the future.

I really wanted to address some of common questions and misinformation around permanent Nipple Tattoos after Breast Cancer as there is a lot of confusion out there on the internet and I appreciate it can be hard to find the information you need. I’m going to try and answer some of the most common questions I get asked or that I come across. I am always happy to answer any questions so please get in touch if you have something specific you need to find out.

About Me

My name is Helen Aldous. I am an Artistic & Medical Tattooist who specialises in creating permanent 3D Nipple Tattoos for people who have gone through the trauma of Breast Cancer, Mastectomy and Reconstructive Surgery. I also work with people who have undergone gender transition surgery to ensure they feel comfortable in their body. My studio is based in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. Conveniently located for Manchester, Bradford, Leeds and Sheffield.

My background is that I am a practicing artist and completed a professional Tattoo Apprenticeship, having been a qualified and registered Tattooist since 2013. I am also a qualified Medical Tattooist, being certified in both medical tattoo for areola and scars and burns. This allows me to combine the industry standards of Medical Tattoo with the art and craft of Traditional Artistic Tattooing to best help my clients.


Are Permanent Nipple Tattoos after Breast Cancer really Permanent?

There is a lot of confusion out there about 3D Nipple Tattoos and how long they last. All the nipples I create are truly permanent and won’t fade away. I think it is crucial that people are free to put cancer behind them and move forward with their lives without having to revisit their trauma every year or so or pay for more top ups going into the future.

I have had ladies come to me who thought they were getting permanent 3D Nipples tattooed elsewhere by micro-pigmentation technicians and were upset when they found they faded away after a few months. The confusion lies in the words the beauty/cosmetic/micropigmentation Industry uses. “Permanent Makeup” is called “permanent” as it is more permanent than makeup that you take off every night. However, it is not “permanent” in the recognised use of the word {ie lasting forever}. 

This subtle use of words has caused confusion for people trying to get a truly permanent 3D Nipple Tattoo which will last without top ups. Always make absolutely sure that the person you go to is using truly permanent ink and not Micropigmentation ink. There are some cosmeticians creating beautiful 3D Nipples but it pays to clarify what inks they are using and how long they will last before booking in to avoid disappointment if you are looking for permanent 3D Nipples. 

In general. If it isn’t specifically stated that the technician uses permanent pigment, its very probably semi-permanent. Always ask to see healed photos of work to see how the nipples will look over time and to get an idea of pigment retention. If you click here you can view a gallery of Healed Photos of Nipple Tattoos completed here in my studio


I had my nipples tattooed by my nurse but they faded away. Why doesn’t the NHS offer Permanent 3D Nipples?

It really comes down to a matter of training. Currently Nurses, Surgeons and Micropigmentation Technicians attend a two or three day course on tattooing with semi permanent pigments and equipment. Tattooing permanent 3D Nipples requires different skills, inks and specialist higher powered equipment with which to apply it, as well as artistic skill. To use this equipment on delicate and scarred skin without causing damage requires years of training and experience of dealing with different skin and scar types. This isn’t easily gained other than through a rigorous 2 year professional Tattoo Apprenticeship and constant tattoo work on different skin types. It simply can’t be learnt quickly over two or three days. Therefore the NHS uses the equipment and techniques which can be learnt quickly and without experience.

There are some nurses and surgeons creating some wonderful work but sadly they will fade as the pigments aren’t permanent. 


Are Permanent Inks safe after Breast Cancer?

It has been implied that semi permanent inks are safer and that permanent inks are not and do not comply to regulations. This is simply not true. All inks, permanent and semi permanent have to comply to strict EU regulations or they can’t be sold in the UK.

Both Permanent Inks and Micropigmentation Inks are covered by the same General Product Safety Directive in the EU. This means both types of ink are covered by the same rules.

I use top quality inks from a respected ink manufacturer in the US. Each bottle is EU Certified and CPNP {Cosmetic Product Notification Portal} Registered. The company website and download has a Material Data Safety Sheets for each ink. This gives a breakdown of the ingredients in the ink and any known toxicities. 

Under Toxiological Information they note  Carcinogenicity: None per OSHA, IARC or NTP


I have been told that permanent ink will discolour and go blue in time and this is why I shouldn’t have a permanent 3D Nipple. Is that true?

Tattoo inks in the past {30-50 years ago} were made with some dubious or unstable ingredients and could change colour strangely as anyone who has seen an old navy tattoo on an elderly relative can testify. However, modern ink manufacturing is a completely different entity. Pigments are scientifically created to withstand the test of time with no colour shifts and will not go blue over time. The range of pigments I use is made by a respected ink manufacturer and are designed for colour stability. In contrast semi-permanent Micropigmentation pigments can have a tendency to go ashy or orangey over time as they fade through different tones and leave the body.


Can a Permanent Tattoo damage the implant I have?

No. In both permanent and semi permanent tattooing, the needle only penetrates a very short distance into the skin. The maximum depth for permanent tattooing is around 2mm. This is not deep enough to touch structures like veins or implants themselves.


Does it hurt?

Many of the ladies I see have had surgery and so sadly have lost most of the sensation in the area. There may be small areas of discomfort but this is quite rare. Numbing cream can be used too if you do find it sore. 


I have scarring on the breast which I hate. Can anything be done?

A decorative mastectomy tattoo is often a great way to hide or draw the eye away from scarring. It’s also a brilliant way to reclaim your body after going through your cancer journey. You can have a completely bespoke tattoo, designed to flatter and complement the breast, with or without a 3D nipple. Microneedling or collagen actuation therapy may also be able to help with scarring.


How long should I wait after surgery to get a Nipple Tattoo?

You need to wait at least six months to allow scarring to heal and settle. This also allows any inflammation in the breast to disappear and it to settle into its final position. Its easy to damage fragile skin if it isn’t properly healed so its worth the wait.


Everyone deserves to be able to put a full stop at the end of their cancer journey and be able to move forward with their lives. My mission is to make more people aware that there is a permanent solution available for them to be able to reclaim their body and get back to living their lives with confidence and joy.