Breast Reconstruction Surgery & Nipple Tattooing After Breast Cancer

Woman in Kalispell, MT considering reconstructive surgery options after breast cancer

One in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer—an event that will change their lives forever. For many, treatment will include a mastectomy, an experience that can be physically and emotionally draining. After recovering from breast cancer treatment, breast reconstruction surgery offers our Kalispell patients an opportunity to restore their natural body shape. While the procedure cannot exactly replace the look and feel of natural breasts, it can increase your self-confidence, provide a welcome sense of completeness, and improve your overall quality of life. 

Breast Reconstruction & Nipple Tattooing in Montana

Breast reconstruction with breast augmentation can recreate the shape of the breasts, but reattachment of the nipple is not usually an option. To address this issue, the emerging art of hyper-realistic nipple tattooing offers hope to breast cancer survivors. This personal decision is emotional for many patients as it can feel like a final step in overcoming breast cancer. In August 2020, Mountain West Plastic Surgery received a grant to bring in Eric Eye of Restorative Tattoo Arts to provide Flathead Valley patients with restorative, cosmetic nipple tattoos.

Photo courtesy of Eric Eye, Restorative Tattoo Arts

How Much Does Nipple Tattooing Cost?

The price of a nipple tattoo depends on the skill of your tattoo artist and the location of your treatment. For an experienced tattoo artist, the cost typically ranges from about $350 for one nipple to $600 for both. The price may be higher for artists who are traveling from out of the area. 

How Painful Is a Nipple Tattoo?

Receiving a nipple tattoo after breast reconstruction is a fairly painless experience. The reconstructed breast doesn’t have the same sensation as before mastectomy, so any discomfort is dulled. Some women still report mild pain during the tattooing process. This can be easily treated by applying numbing cream before the appointment or using over-the-counter pain medication. 

Is 3D Nipple Tattooing For Breast Reconstruction Patients Covered by Insurance?

No. Just as many elective plastic surgery procedures are not covered by insurance, typically, 3D nipple tattoos for breast reconstructive patients are not covered by insurance plans. In some instances, certain nonprofit foundations and charities, like KRH’s Save a Sister program through the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the Plastic Surgery Foundation, will provide grants to breast cancer survivors.

Do Nipple Tattoos Fade?

Like any tattoo, nipple tattoos can last for many years, but they may begin to fade with time. Some women schedule touch-up treatments to deepen any fading pigment. Many tattoo artists charge less than the original fee for a color touch-up. 

An Artist’s Touch: Eric’s Story

Eric Eye began his tattooing career in 1990, specializing in detailed realism and portraiture. He had been tattooing for many decades when he was contacted by a client who had undergone a double mastectomy. The woman had done work with him in the past and was the first person to expose Eyes to natural-looking nipples by way of 3D tattooing. Eric had never heard of nipple tattoos before, but his realistic art style was perfectly suited to the task. 

That particular client is now his fiancee, and this rewarding line of work she introduced Eric to has forever changed his career and their lives. Since then, Eric has continued to use his artistry to enrich the lives of more than 300 breast cancer survivors by helping them feel more comfortable and confident with their appearance. 

“My fiancee is the one who got me into this work, and she describes to me what a difference it makes for her self-esteem,” Eric says. “It plays a huge part in being able to move on from cancer. Dealing with survivors on a regular basis is definitely a humbling experience.”

Based in Seattle, Eric’s mission is to train more highly skilled artists in the field of nipple tattooing after breast cancer. He plans to offer classes and is honored to help Mountain West Plastic Surgery breast reconstruction patients complete their breast cancer journey and boost their body image.

We’d like to give a special “thank you” to Jenny Masa on the Mountain West Plastic Surgery team at KRH for helping bring this vision to life.

Contact Our Plastic Surgery Practice

If you would like to learn more about breast reconstruction surgery or other breast augmentation options we offer in Kalispell, MT, please request a consultation online. You can also contact the practice office by phone at (406) 609-0210.

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