Yesterday afternoon at 3pm I had the final step of my breast reconstruction done: Medical Tattooing.
I have had tattoos done before. This was done differently. With a regular tattoo, the tattoo gun injects the ink in the second layer of skin
With medical tattooing the pigment is brushed onto the top of the skin and then a tattoo gun is used to scrape the skin and open up the area so that the pigment will sink into the area.
I asked why regular tattooing techniques aren’t used and while the nurse doing the tattooing didn’t know for sure, she had her suspicions. The nipple and areolaes are made up mostly of scar tissue. Scar tissue tends to be difficult to tattoo because it doesn’t take or absorb the pigment the way normal skin does.
Because the pigment isn’t injected under the skin the way it is with a regular tattoo it is not permanent. It will eventually fade or wear down. In about 10 years I will need to get touched up again. I may also have to have places touched up in a few weeks if the skin doesn’t evenly absorb the pigment.
As far as care goes, it is different from regular tattoo care. With a regular tattoo, you leave it bandaged for an hour then moisturize a few times a day for a couple weeks. With medical tattooing I have gigantic globs of petroleum jelly on the newly tattooed area and it’s covered by gauze and tape. The jelly is to keep the area moist. I’m not supposed to do anything with it for 24 hours. Tomorrow night I can take a shower but I have to avoid letting the water spray directly on my front. I have to keep my back to the water. Then, for seven days I have to slather the area with petroleum jelly and keep it covered, changing the bandage once daily. After that, no swimming for 3 weeks. The big thing is not letting any of the pigment get dry enough to flake off.
For those of you who may have to have this done, the medical tattooist/nurse offered a numbing agent. For people who have sensation in their nipples, this makes the whole tattooing thing MUCH less frightening. Since I am virtually insensate in the nipple and areolae area, there was no pain. But there WAS some very bizarre sensation. I did have zappy nerve pain, but it was in the center of my chest a good three or four inches away from where she was working. I also had some discomfort in my armpit of all places. Mostly it was just sensations of heavy pressure and vibrations all the way through to my back. It wasn’t any big deal compared to what I HAVE gone through.
Below you will find photos of before tattooing, during the process and the result