Is It Safe To Tattoo Over A Nipple?

Tattoos have evolved; over the years, it has come a long way from just being used for ceremonial practices. Tattoos now tell a story and can be written in any language. For those that have opted to tattoo over a nipple, their reasons for getting a tattoo can vary from fashion trends to survival of trauma or even just reaching a milestone.

A tattoo over a nipple is called an areola micro pigmentation treatment. This treatment is considered safe if carried out by a trained and certified technician. However, tattooing on the raised region of sensitive tissue on the surface of the breast can come with some risks.

Nipple tattoos can speak volumes. In this case, it is not a picture but a tattoo that speaks a thousand words. If you intend to get a tattoo over your nipple, it is important to understand the anatomy of the breast and the risks involved, and what you can do to reduce that possible risk. Join me as we take this journey.

Anatomy Of The Breast

Suppose you are contemplating having a tattoo over your nipple. In that case, you might want to understand the anatomy of the breast to consider the area’s sensitivity, the pain, and the risks that may be connected to the process.

The breasts are made up of a different type of fatty, glandular, and fibrous tissue,

  • Grandula tissue comprises the breast lobes and the breast ducts.
  • Fibrous tissue is supportive or connective tissue.
  • Fatty tissue is the tissue that fills the space between the glandular and fibrous tissue and is what determines the size of the breast.
  • There is also supportive and flexible connective tissue called ligaments that stretch from the skin to the chest wall to help keep the breast tissue in place.
  • The support of the breast comes from the pectoral muscle, which lies against the chest wall underneath both breasts.
  • Oxygen is provided by the blood vessels, which help rid the breast area of toxins.
  • In the center of the breast lies the nipple, which is held by muscles that respond to signals sent out by the autonomic nervous system.

One of the factors that contribute to nipple erection is stimulation. When a tattoo is inked over a nipple, you will find that it causes stimulation. Imagine an average of 21 needles, 35mm in size, being penetrated at a speed of 6000 motions per minute, pricked between 50 and 3000 times per minute, into the most sensitive part of your body.

If you have ever had your nipple squeezed, the pain is mild in comparison. For the tattoo needle to penetrate the dermis layer of the skin at a depth of 1 to millimeters, there is sure to be some risk involved.

Risks Involved In Obtaining A Nipple Tattoo

Pigments inserted through pricks can breach the skin’s surface, which means that skin infections and other risks are possible. Below is a list of the possible risks that you might want to consider before getting that nipple inked;


The excessive penetration of the skin by the needles during tattooing can cause scarring. The nipple area is more prone to this because of the thin layer of skin that covers the area. The only factor that might determine if you end up with a scar or not will be engaging the services of a reputable and certified tattoo artist.

A certain pressure element needs to be used when inking the tattoo; using the wrong pressure on one of the most sensitive areas can see the birth of a scar. People that are prone to keloid formation are at greater risk.

Allergic Reaction

Tattooing over a nipple involves the use of some tattoo dyes. The reaction to the dye can differ based on the individual’s skin sensitivity. Red, yellow, green, and blue dyes have known to cause some allergic reactions. An allergic reaction on the nipple, which is such a sensitive area, can cause much skin irritation and tenderness.

You are also prone to get granuloma, which is a skin inflammation that is caused due to the inking of a tattoo. There have also been incidents where numbing tattoo creams have caused allergic reactions. To safeguard yourself from so much pain rather do a patch test beforehand.


Always insist on seeing the equipment before receiving your nipple tattoo. You need to ensure that the area and equipment are sterile. Ensure that the tattoo artist wears gloves during the process. Failure to do so might result in the nipple facing possible contamination.

If you experience excessive swelling, redness, and pus after day 3, you might want to seek medical attention.

Pigment Migration

Having breast reconstruction will probably feature some scars on the skin’s surface. Suppose tattooing on these uneven textures is not done meticulously. In that case, the pigments may migrate into skin tissue and lead to these pigments bleeding out over the rest of the skin, distorting the intended image of the tattoo.

Nipple Flattening

A nipple that has been reconstructed due to surgery may see a flattening of the nipple during the tattoo process. Therefore, you should wait at least 3-6 months after reconstruction to get a tattoo. After this period, consult the tattoo artist, advise him of the procedure, and request that he be slow and gentle during the tattoo process.

The Development Of Keloids

Tattooing over a nipple can lead to keloids caused by overgrown scar tissue.

Blood Borne Disease

Suppose the equipment used during tattooing is not properly sterilized after being contaminated with blood. In that case, you can risk contracting various blood-borne diseases,  including hepatitis B & C, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

MRI Complications

In the event of an MRI scan, there is a slight possibility that having a tattoo might cause swelling and burn on your nipple area during the scan. The pigments from the tattoo can also interfere with the quality of the image.

Never Go To An Uncertified Tattoo Artist

More importantly, never go to an uncertified, self-taught technician.

Possible Long-Term Effects Of A Tattoo Over A Nipple

Although FDA research is ongoing, there are a lot of long-term effects due to the pigments and possible contaminants in the tattoo ink. Although some may experience immediate side effects to tattooing, the adverse reactions can surface even years later for others.

There have been reports of long-term side effects of having a tattoo over your nipple due to the sensitivity of the area and the thinness of the skin over the nipple. For some, the effects have been permanent scarring. At the same time, others have had to deal with infrequent bouts of pain.

Pain Associated With A Nipple Tattoo

The pain related to obtaining a nipple tattoo can vary depending on a person’s pain threshold. If you undergo breast reconstruction, it may be possible that your breasts are no longer as sensitive as they used to be. In this instance, the pain can be lower than normal.

Nipples are extremely sensitive areas, so getting a nipple tattoo can cause severe pain. The type of pain that you experience can also vary. At the same time, some have expressed feeling pressure and scratching pain. Patients with breast implants might experience vibration through the implants.

You can reduce the pain of tattooing over a nipple by numbing tattoo creams. There is a wide variety of creams and sprays that you can purchase online on Amazon.

Is It Safe To Have A Nipple Tattoo After Surgery?

Many women that have undergone surgery opt for a 3D tattoo instead of a nipple reconstruction. It is advisable to wait for several months after surgery until completely healed. However, most women wait for up to 3 months after surgery to have a nipple tattoo.

The period of healing can vary depending on how fast the wound heals. Often the healing may not just be physical but also emotional.

It is advisable not to rush this process but rather give yourself enough time to heal before deciding. It is a decision that should not be made alone. It is very important to wait until your doctor can safely authorize you to have a nipple tattoo.

Ensure that you are confident in the certification of your tattoo artist. Once you have found a reputable tattoo artist, you can set up a consultation to discuss the best solution for inking a nipple tattoo.

Besides a nipple tattoo, many women opt for a mastectomy tattoo. The mastectomy tattoo can cover large breast parts with many design options. Besides, a woman’s feminity is not determined by her having breasts or nipples. A mastectomy tattoo is generally for a courageous woman who opts to stay flat. The whole breast area is covered with designs that are quite flattering.

Reduce The Risk Of Infection

The sensitivity of the area is one of the reasons that you have to ensure that you do not risk infection. Especially if you have undergone breast surgery a few months before. Safety is of utmost importance; you need to ensure the following;

1. A Certified Tattoo Artist Is Chosen

Choosing a certified, reputable tattoo artist cannot be stressed enough. Ensure that the tattoo studio you chose adheres to the regulation and licensing requirements. Your local health department needs to be contacted for more local licensing and regulations.

2. Sterilized Equipment Needs To Be Used

The tattoo artist always needs to use sterilized equipment. Always insist that the tattoo artist removes needles and tubes in your presence from sealed packages before the tattooing process. All pigment, trays, and containers should be unused as well.

A heat sterilization machine needs to be used by the tattoo artist to ensure that all equipment is properly sterilized. It would help if you used a bleach solution to disinfect all tables, sinks, and drawer handles.

3. Tattoo Artist Must Wear Gloves

Ensure that the tattoo artist wears a fresh pair of gloves for your procedure.

4. Keep The Nipple Tattoo Clean

Use water and soap to wash the nipple tattoo. Chose a mild soap and a soft sponge to dab the area gently. When showering, ensure that the water is lukewarm, cover the nipple area so that the water does not hit completely on the tattoo. To dry the area, ensure that you avoid rubbing. It would be advisable to pat down the area with a soft towel. Rubbing can cause inflammation.

5. Keep The Nipple Tattoo Moisturized

Moisturize several times a day to ensure that the tattooed nipple does not dry out. Avoid using a moisturizer with any harsh chemicals. Opt for a mild moisturizer.

6. The Nipple Tattoo Should Not Be Exposed To Sun

The nipple tattoo should be kept out of the sun for at least a few weeks after tattooing.

7. Avoid Swimming

You should avoid submerging in too much water after tattooing. Hence it is advisable to stay out of pools, rivers, lakes, hot tubs during the healing process.

8. Wear Loose Clothing

Avoid using any tight clothing that might stick to the tattoo. Rather stick to wearing loose-fitting clothing with soft fabric.

9. Allow The Nipple Tattoo To Heal

Since the healing time may vary, ensure that you avoid rushing the process, allowing ample time for healing. In the interim, avoid picking on scabs, which will only increase the risk of affection, distort the design of the tattoo, and cause possible scarring.

How Long Is the Process Of Tattooing Over A Nipple?

The 3D nipple tattoo can take up to an hour and a half if you tattoo just one side and around two to two half hours if both sides are being done. It also depends on your pain threshold, as many tattoo artists will often stop the process if you are not managing the pain effectively; this can delay the tattooing. It also depends on the experience of the tattoo artist.

How Much Does A Nipple Tattoo Cost?

Tattooing over a nipple can vary in price depending on the tattoo artist and the state. Tattoo artists will generally access the area first before providing a quotation. The extent of the existing scar is also a huge deciding factor. Inking heavily scarred tissue can be difficult, leading to an increase in the price.

A tattoo over both breasts can be more expensive than just opting for one nipple tattoo. The average price for a nipple tattoo is $500 for one nipple and $815 for both.


Hasty tattoos often lead to tattoo removal. Obtaining a tattoo goes far beyond just wanting to tell a tale on a living canvas. Make sure that you take some time to consider the possible side and long terms effects, the pain, and the cost involved in tattooing over your nipple.

The area’s sensitivity is something you should consider when making your decision. A nipple tattoo is a permanent investment; make sure you choose wisely. No matter what design you opt for, a tattooist can create it if you dare to dream it.


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