Do Nipple Tattoos Fade?

I am often asked the question, Do Nipple Tattoos fade? The answer is, No. A Permanent Nipple Tattoo created by a specialist Nipple Tattooist using the correct ink, equipment and techniques should not fade away. However, many Nipple Tattoos are created by Cosmetic Tattooists using semi-permanent ink, equipment and techniques designed for cosmetic effects. These Nipple Tattoos will fade away somewhere between 6 months to a few years. It is of crucial importance to understand the difference and to research the experience, background and techniques of your Nipple Tattooist before booking to ensure your Nipple Tattoos don’t fade away. 

Making sure you get a Nipple Tattoo that won’t fade away and disappear.

It can be very confusing when you are starting to look into getting a Nipple Tattoo. It’s so important you understand why some Nipple Tattoos will disappear before 6 months are up and why some are permanent. 

Many Cosmetic Tattooists offer areola tattooing as an addition to their other cosmetic related skills. They create Nipple Tattoos using the same equipment and pigments designed for eyebrows, lip liner etc. The equipment and pigments are perfect for the soft effects needed for eyebrows. It’s important that the pigments fade in this application as eyebrows change and age over time and need to be adjusted. This is the perfect application for these pigments and some skilled cosmetic tattooists are creating beautiful eyebrow work.

However, Nipples do not need to be adjusted with age and need to be permanent for the mental well being of the client. Nipples which fade away and constantly need retouching can be upsetting, never allowing the client to put Breast Cancer behind them. Fading cosmetic pigments should not be used for this application. 

The cosmetic tattoo industry operates on a model of repeat business where clients keep returning for top-ups on an ongoing basis. This is generally around yearly for Nipple Tattoos. Many Cosmetic Tattooists charge around 3/4 of the initial fee for a colour top-up.

Bearing in mind that this may need to be repeated approximately 1-2 yearly and indefinitely this can mean a significant lifetime financial outlay if you want to keep your Nipple Tattoos looking realistic without fading.

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Do Nipple Tattoos Fade?

Do Nipple Tattoos Fade? How to get a PERMANENT Nipple Tattoo after Breast Cancer that WONT fade away…

The differences between Specialist Permanent Nipple Tattooists and Cosmetic Tattooists

The differences between Specialist Permanent Nipple Tattooists and Cosmetic Tattooists
Specialist Tattoo ArtistCosmetic Tattooist
EquipmentHigh powered equipment can deal with fragile scar tissue without overworking and causing damage.Low powered equipment designed for cosmetic effects. Ie Eyebrows etc.
TechniquesSpecialist Tattooists will have the experience to give them a wide range of different tattoo techniques for different types of scar tissue. Therefore they can adapt their approach depending on the skin and scar type for the best results.
Cosmetic Tattooists are taught one standard technique on their training course. They do not have a wide range of different techniques available to handle the different types of scar tissue they may encounter.
TrainingSpecialist Nipple Tattooist will have completed at least an intense two-year professional Tattoo Apprenticeship before they start to create permanent Nipple Tattoos. Often they have many more years of experience behind them.2-day Training course.
ExperienceWide-ranging experience of working with different skin areas, scarring and textures.Experience limited to tattooing specific skin areas, ie eyebrows, lips etc.
PigmentsLicensed and insured for use of permanent pigments which won’t fade. Generally, use permanent pigments designed for Nipples and areola with a wide range of colours available.
Only licensed and insured for semi-permanent pigments. A smaller range of colours.
FadingPermanent Nipple Tattoo won’t fade away.Cosmetic Nipple Tattoo fades within approximately 6 months to 2 years.
RealismWide range of pigment colours, equipment choices and skills mean a hyper-realistic Nipple Tattoo can be created.More limited range of pigments and equipment mean a standard quality Nipple Tattoo.
Top-up feesNot neededApproximately 3/4 of the initial fee every one to 2 years.

Why do NHS Nipple Tattoos fade?

Firstly I need to say that the NHS and Breast Care Nurses, in particular, do a wonderful job. However, the truth is that they are trained as nurses, not specialist artistic tattooists. 

They do the best they can with the pigments and equipment they are provided with and the techniques they are taught but it’s difficult for them to achieve a quality result that won’t fade.

The NHS sends nurses on a two-day training course as it obviously can’t put them through an intensive two-year tattoo apprenticeship with all that entails. However, the 2-day course does little to prepare them for the challenging work they are then asked to carry out.

The difficulties they come up against are…

  • Limited pigment range.
    They are provided with semi-permanent pigments which have a limited range of colours. The available colours are softer and so are not very good at creating the highlights and details for the Nipples to look realistic or to match an existing nipple. Of course, they are semi-permanent so will fade quickly.
  • Needle limitations.
    There is often a limit set on the number of needles they are allowed to use. They are often only allowed one or two different needles types to work with. A detailed Permanent Nipple Tattoo may need 4 or 5 different needle types to achieve realism. Scar tissue may require a variety of different needles to achieve a result with good retention.
  • Limited Experience.
    Sadly a 2-day course just doesn’t prepare anyone for the kind of delicate, radiation-damaged and scarred skin they are likely to encounter after breast cancer surgery. It’s not the kind of specialist tattoo work you want to be attempting after a 2-day training course and needs experience..
  • Time limitations.
    Hospitals understandably have to run to budgets and see a certain number of patients a day. Nurses may be required to complete one nipple tattoo patient in an hour. This leaves little time for colour matching, getting the right placement and positioning and detailed work.
  • Technique limitations.
    On the training course that they undergo, nurses are given a “one size fits all” standard technique to use. This may not work on certain types of skin or scarring. Poor technique results in poor pigment retention as the ink is not inserted into the correct skin layer and will fade quickly.
  • Artistic Limitations.
    Nurses are generally not artistically trained and so don’t have the art skills needed to create a realistic nipple or a copy of an existing nipple.

I love the NHS and the Breast Care Nurses especially are absolute stars. Whilst most nurses do the absolute best they can, the training and equipment they are given make it frustratingly impossible for them to create a nipple that won’t quickly fade away. 

Tattooing is a skill which looks deceptively simple to the observer leading people to think it is easily picked up from scratch on a short course. However, it takes years of experience to create a high-quality permanent outcome without causing further damage, especially on difficult scarring.

Checklist for finding a Nipple Tattooist who can create non-fading Nipples

  • Background & Experience

    Do they have a background in traditional tattooing with a portfolio of high-quality work that you can see? This indicates wide skin and scar experience and the right equipment.

  • Do they have healed photos of Nipple Tattoos on their site?

    It’s easy to create a Nipple Tattoo that initially looks great for an Instagram picture but will disappear in a few weeks. Always make sure you see photos of healed work to assess colour retention. View a gallery of healed images here.

  • Do they have a gallery of their own Nipple Tattoo work?

    Shockingly, some people advertising Nipple Tattoos don’t even have a gallery of their own work or use stock images of Nipple Tattoos which they didn’t do themselves.

    Can you view their work and see consistency through the gallery that indicates the photos were all taken in the same place and are genuine?

    All the images in my Nipple Tattoo gallery have been used with the kind permission of my clients. They are happy for their images to be used in the hope that it may help and inspire others going through the Breast Cancer journey after them. If a Nipple Tattooist doesn’t show photos of their own work that they are proud of, question why.

  • Do they specify that the ink they use is permanent?

    If there is no mention of permanence, generally they will be using semi-permanent ink. Check before booking.

  • Do they specialise in Nipple Tattoos or offer it as an occasional additional service to eyebrows, lips etc.

    There is so much to learn about creating a realistic and permanent Nipple and Areola Tattoo. If you only do the occasional one you will not learn the skills needed to do the best job you can for your clients.

Case Study

Failed, faded NHS Nipple Tattoo done three times and Rescue Permanent Nipple Tattoo

This lady came to me after 3 failed attempts at Nipple Tattooing in Hospital. She was initially tattooed by her surgeon under full theatre conditions. She was shocked and worried at how much this had potentially cost the NHS. 

The pink shiny disc of the areola area in the photo is thin translucent scar tissue which has been caused by overworking of the skin.

Overworking can happen when the equipment used is underpowered and/or the technique of the operative isn’t correct causing difficulty implanting the pigment. Someone who isn’t experienced working with scar tissue will then go over and over the area in an attempt to get some colour in which seems to have happened here. This damages the skin and causes a shiny delicate type of scar tissue which is very difficult to subsequently fix as it won’t take ink easily.

The surgeon in this case also used the wrong type of skin marker to mark the areola on. The ink from the blue marker was subsequently tattooed into the deeper layers of tissue. This can be seen as the discoloured semicircle around the lower edge of the areola.

The lady reported this initial Nipple Tattoo took a long time to heal and then faded quickly.

She then returned to the hospital twice for Nipple Tattooing by her Breast Care Nurses. Whilst they did as good a job as they could with the equipment provided, they could not get ink to take in the Nipple and each attempt faded within weeks. This was because the area was so scarred and delicate and now would not take ink, especially from low powered cosmetic equipment. Any further attempts with low powered equipment risks further damage to this fragile scarred area.

I was able to use advanced techniques to build up the pigment gently into the scarring. This will be the only way to get the scarring to accept pigment now after the damage caused and it may take several sessions to get the retention needed as we build up the ink gently without causing further damage to this fragile area.

The photo shows the result after the first rescue session. She will probably need another one or two sessions. Once finished, this Nipple Tattoo will be permanent.

Free consultation

I really hope this post has given you the information needed to understand why some Nipple Tattoos fade away and how to make sure you get a Nipple Tattoo that is permanent.

If you have any further questions I offer a FREE no-obligation consultation where you can chat through your questions. This can be done either in person or over the phone or email. Just get in touch using the contact details below.

Get in touch for a FREE CONSULTATION…

Please contact me with any questions you may have about 3D Nipple Tattoos or to book a FREE Consultation.

Email me direct at Hello{at}3DNippleTattoos.co.uk or via the contact form.

For enquiries and appointments you can call the studio on 01484 680 104.

You can also message me via my  3D Nipple Tattoo Facebook page here

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE GUIDE TO GETTING PERMANENT NIPPLE TATTOOS

I have written an E-Book to answer questions about 3D Nipple Tattoos.

Completing Your Journey – The Power of 3D Nipple Tattoos and How They Can Help Your Recovery From Breast Cancer covers topics I get asked most frequently and outlines the process and its benefits. You can easily download the E-Book to your laptop or tablet to read at your leisure.

Simply add your email below to receive your copy which will be sent to your mail address. I Hope you find the book helpful and informative.

3D Nipple Tattoo e-book