CANSA notes that apart from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the number one cancer affecting women in South Africa. A South African woman’s chance of getting breast cancer in her lifetime is currently estimated at 1 in 26.

The organisiation recommends that a good way to reduce your risk is to have regular check-ups and screenings to check for any abnormalities in the breast, noting “Mammograms (a special x-ray to detect lumps in the breast), do not prevent breast cancer, but they can save lives by finding breast cancer as early as possible. Finding breast cancers early with mammography has also meant that many more women being treated for breast cancer are able to keep their breasts. When caught early, localised cancers can be removed without resorting to breast removal (mastectomy).”

Not all women opt for reconstructing their breasts once a mastectomy is undergone yet those who do, want it to look and feel as authentic as possible.  Aesthetic Plastic Surgery PC says that “In addition to achieving nipple projection, providing a natural nipple areola colour is an important goal.”

So in an effort to secure complete reconstruction of the breast after a mastectomy, micro-pigments can be implanted into the skin by trained specialists. Local Cosmetic & Paramedical Micro-Pigment Specialist, Nicol Frank gave us some insight of this procedure.  

Who has areola tattoos done?

Generally women who have had mastectomies due to breast cancer.

Do you have to do this along with a plastic surgeon?

We can work together. If the client wants a reconstructed nipple, most surgeons can build one for them, and then I just do the areola tattoo and shading around the nipple. If the client wants a full tattoo: nipple and areola, then we don’t need to do this along with the surgeon.

How does it work exactly?

A 3D areolar illusion is created by using our unique highlighting and shading techniques.

We apply medically approved, EU and FDA registered pigments with a painless, short microneedling technique in the papillary layer of the skin. The tissue and skin heals in a healthier condition due to our microneedling technique. (All other techniques cause scarring and damage to the skin). A colour refresher is recommended after 5 years to maintain perfect vibrancy.

How long does it take – and how long does the tattoo last?

It takes about 2/3 hours depending. We also work with the scars on the breasts in order to get rid of them. It can last between 7 to 10 years.

What are the costs involved?

R4 500 for the initial session.