Frequently Asked Questions

Breast Cancer & Areola RestorationLink to Areola Photos

When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, a long painful physical and emotional journey begins. In addition to the physical diagnosis, fear and pain, several surgeries and treatments must be endured. 

After all the testing is completed, and the cancerous cells, tumors and surrounding tissue are completely removed, the decision is made whether or not to engage in the lengthy and multiple surgery process of reconstruction. This involves temporary tissue expanders to stretch and prepare the skin for a permanent breast implant. The placement of the permanent implant requires yet another surgery. Finally, many doctors today are learning advanced techniques in nipple protrusion surgery. This is yet another procedure requiring sutures and healing time, but when completed, looks quite realistic in providing the contour and projection of the nipple instead of a smooth breast mound. 

At the end of approximately a full year, the patient has completed the whole process and has to pick up and start back into “normal” life.  Obviously there are still emotional issues related to fear of overcoming the cancer entirely, loss of one’s natural breast(s) and the scars as a daily reminder of the ordeal. 

Para-medical tattooing allows the same technology and similar techniques used in permanent makeup to re-create the appearance of the natural breast areola. When the reconstructive surgical process is complete, there is a nice breast mound, often with a surgically created nipple, but no color as is found in a natural breast areola/nipple complex. 

Using skin tones as a guide for color selection and careful measurements to ensure the correct size and symmetry of the areolas, a specialized process of shading and highlighting creates an amazingly realistic areola. 

This becomes the final process that women tell me is the end of the chapter and puts the finishing touches on the emotional healing process, as well as the physical restoration of their ravaged breasts. 

It is my passion and privilege to work with my breast cancer patients. As a woman I have absolute compassion for their incredibly painful process of enduring the diagnosis and treatment of breast or any other form of cancer. Thankfully there are so many good treatment options and early detection methods today. Statistically it is most common now to beat the cancer and live a long and healthy life. My contribution to the restorative process allows women to put that segment of their life behind them, feel restored and beautiful in a way they could not have imagined at the beginning of their treatment and reconstruction.

At Newport Permanent Makeup we ensure a private, relaxed and professional environment where you are treated with tender and loving care. We realize that you have been through a lot by the time you come to the final stages. We are here to make this step an enjoyable and painless process, giving you a result to look forward to. 

We provide the proper forms, billing codes and super-bills for your insurance reimbursement.   

Q. How is the procedure done?
A. The first step is to select the proper color.   A small test patch is done when only one areola needs re-coloring to match the natural existing areola on the opposite breast and also to see if the color heals as anticipated. If, in the follow up visit the test is satisfactory, then the procedure may be completed.  Careful measurements are made to ensure placement and symmetry of the areola(s) and unsure that the final result looks incredibly realistic and natural. 

Q.  What if I had breast cancer reconstruction and I have not had nipple reconstruction surgery?
A.  Artistic shading can be used to create the appearance of a nipple. Shading below the nipple area can create the illusion of nipple protrusion.

Q. How long does a procedure take?
A. Usually, each procedure appointment is one to two hours.  The majority of the time is spent in selecting the appropriate color for your skin, and in measuring and artistically drawing on the planned procedure prior to actually implanting the color.  Adequate time is allotted for topical anesthetic, and also for complete aftercare instructions that are reviewed verbally and sent home in written copy form. 

Q. Is it the same as a tattoo?
A. It is a form of tattoo, although different techniques and pigments are used.

Q. What is micropigmentation?
A. This is the name of the process used to implant color in permanent makeup.

Q. Is the procedure safe?
A. Unlike many technicians that re-use or sterilize via an autoclave the various components of their equipment, we use all pre-packaged, sterile and disposable needles and needle casings. With the highly technologically advanced digital implantation system used at Newport Permanent Makeup, we use medical-grade needles that are encased in a special permanent cartridge.  This patented cartridge system contains an internal diaphragm that prevents any bodily fluids and airborne contaminants from entering into the system. This ensures that you will receive the safest, most sterile form of cosmetic tattooing available. In addition, all of your procedures are done under Federal OSHA standards that regulate the sterile, safe and healthy practices for prevention of cross-contamination from person to person.

Q.  Does it hurt?
A.  Ususally there is minimal sensitivity and minimal discomfort. However, even though with breast reconstruction or areas of scarring related to cosmetic breast surgery, there is often loss of sensitivity, some people are still sensitive to deeper pain stimulation.  A topical anesthesia is available if needed to numb the area to be treated.  

Q.  How will I look immediately after the procedure? 
A.  You may experience minor swelling and redness on procedure day. There is some minor redness, healing and peeling during the first week. The initial sensitivity immediately following the procedure as the topical anesthetic wears off usually dissipates within a couple of hours. The color will be dramatically darker for the first few days after the procedure, lightening as the healing process takes place.

Q. When will I see the final result?
A. The final result will be revealed after 7-10 days of healing.  You will return in 4-6 weeks for a follow-up visit to determine if the color tone and depth are satisfactory.  It is typical to need some small areas of “touch up” at this visit to perfect the results. 

Q Will it look natural?
A. An artistic technician can use shading and blending to achieve a natural look. The healed result is unbelievably realistic and natural looking.  

Q. Is it really permanent? How long does it last?
A. Some people may need the color darkened within one to five years after the procedure.  This is typically only about $100 per breast since it is merely a recoloring of any areas which have lost color intensity.

Q. What factors affect how long the color lasts?
A. The skill of the technician, the quality of the pigments used, the individual's skin type and how dark the original color is all effect how long it will last. Some lifestyle factors including sun or tanning bed exposure, the use of exfoliating skin-care products and frequent swimming can cause premature fading of the color.

Q. I am nervous about the fact that it is permanent. How can I know what to expect before I have it done?
A. We use makeup pencils to draw it on in advance for your approval. Then we are always cautious to keep on the side of light and natural, for we can always add more color later during your follow-up visit.  We provide “before and after” photos to show the results of similar procedures.  You will see how realistic and natural the end results will be.  A well-trained technician will not proceed unless it is determined that the results will be optimal.

Q. Which technique do you use?
A.  The most state-of-the-art technology today is the computerized digital system. We are proud to use the German-engineered Nouveau Contour Intelligent system.  This system allows for precision artistry, medical grade sterility and with the computer “brain” the settings for the needle speed and depth can be individualized for each person’s skin type and texture.  This allows for preservation of the skin’s integrity, minimal to zero chance of scar tissue or other complications often associated with permanent makeup tools or machines.

Debbie Miller, CPCP
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