3D Nipple Tattoo

Jill Hoyer

3D Nipple Tattoo

3D nipple tattooing and 3D surgical nipple information
tattooed nipples

Artistic tattoo techniques can create a 3D nipple tattoo for those opting out of the nipple surgery. The goal with the 3D nipple tattoo is the illusion of protrusion.

Women who choose breast reconstruction after a mastectomy have options for creating the nipple if they choose to:

  • A tattooed 3D nipple effect
  • A surgical nipple
  • A grafted nipple

Because there is no color defining the nipple or areola after breast reconstruction, a tattoo is optimal for adding lost color even if the nipple is surgically created. The other option besides surgery is a 3D nipple tattoo. Although the tattooing itself is 2 dimensional, the goal is an overall realistic 3D appearance.

Option 1

An areola tattoo artist tattoos the areola and nipple color and creates an illusion of protrusion for the nipple.

3D nipple

– No nipple surgery with possible complications.Tattoo realism techniques create textures, freckles, and a 3D nipple illusion.

– If your doctor’s office performs this procedure in-house, it’s often bundled as part of the reconstruction and covered.

– Can be an out of pocket cost as most restorative tattoo artists are often out of network and insurance may only cover a portion.

– Like any tattoo, it will fade with time and additional color may be needed after a few years.

Option 2

A surgeon surgically creates a nipple protrusion using the skin or other methods.

tram flapPros
– A real protrusion creates the nipple, which can be tattooed to add color.

– Most unilateral cases benefit from a surgical nipple, especially if the contralateral side has a larger nipple.

After nipple surgery, the nipples may not be symmetrically placed. Also, the size and shape of the nipple can be unpredictable and with time, the nipples flatten often need to be redone.

– The protrusion is all of the time.  Bilateral cases often don’t prefer this if they don’t want to wear a bra.

Option 3

grafted nipple unilateral grafted nipple

I don’t see this very often, however, in a unilateral case, if the opposing nipple is large enough, the surgeon can graft part of the nipple and attach to the affected side.

– The color of the nipple is already there so only the areola needs tattooing.

– Possible complications with the grafted nipple.

The choice of a tattooed or surgical nipple often comes up during the areola tattoo consultation. The nipple creation is a personal decision. Some surgeons send their undecided patients to me to discuss the tattoo option. Wither the choice is the surgical nipple or the 3D nipple tattoo, showing before and after photos and explaining the end result seems to help clients with the decision making process.  Women tell me that their main concerns are going through another surgery and that the surgical nipple is 24/7 protrusion. Because of this, many elect to do the 3D nipple tattoo instead.

One client and I spoke of the idea if her surgeon could create a ‘baby bump nipple’.  This small bump would be barely there and would also be a great base for the tattoo.

With a small bump, the nipple protrusion isn’t an issue with clothing and some women can have the benefit of no bra if they choose. There is also less risk of the shape, size and location differences often experienced with too much of a nipple protrusion.

My client went back to her surgeon and got just that.  A baby bump nipple that I was able to further enhance with a 3D tattoo effect.

baby bump nipple
3D nipple tattoo drawing

How does the areola tattoo artist create the 3D illusion of protrusion?

Based on the art theory of shadow and light, a tattooed nipple can give just enough of a real look that many women find it a good choice as the finishing step.

Along with the 3D illusion, the tattooing also can create other textures and detail in the areola such as freckles or Montgomery glands.

Women and men seeking an areola tattoo artist for color post-reconstruction are usually satisfied with their results so long as the artist has experience and involves the client regarding color, shape, and size.

We are privileged to receive referrals from several San Francisco Bay Area
doctors including plastic surgeons, here are a few:

Kaiser Permanente
Contracted for Northern CA
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
KP doctor referral required


R. Laurence Berkowitz M.D.
Kamakshi R. Zeidler M.D.
Aesthetic &
Reconstructive Plastic Surgery


Melody Lynd, M.D.
Plastic Surgery
Beautiful Intentions


beautyful intentions

Robert D. Foster M.D.
UCSF Medical Center
Breast Care
Plastic Surgery

ucsf medical center blue

Would you like a consultation?

▸ Please call: 408-395-7792
▸ Consultation: Via email form

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