Does nipple-areolar tattooing matter in breast reconstruction? A cohort study using the BREAST-Q

Andrea Smallman, Tamara Crittenden, Jia MiinYip, Nicola Dean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Breast reconstruction is achieved through a series of surgical procedures often concluded with nipple-areolar reconstruction tattoo. The purpose of the tattoo is to increase the patients’ satisfaction with the appearance of the breast, however, no published studies quantitatively compare patient satisfaction before vs. after tattoo. In recent times nurse practitioners are increasingly performing this specialised procedure previously undertaken by the plastic surgeon, but there is no evidence to compare patient satisfaction according to clinician. Purpose: The objectives of this study are to examine patient satisfaction pre- and post-nipple-areolar tattooing utilising a validated patient-reported outcome measure the BREAST-Q, and to identify any differences in patient satisfaction between the nurse practitioner and plastic surgeon. Methods: Data was collected from all breast reconstruction patients who underwent nipple-areolar reconstruction tattooing over a six-year period in a dedicated Breast Reconstruction Unit and had completed a pre- and post-tattoo BREAST- Q questionnaire. Analysis of data included paired t-test of pre- and post-tattoo scores and ANCOVA to compare clinicians and tattoo laterality. Results: 93 patients with completed pre- and post-tattoo questionnaires within the date criteria were included from the 204 patientswho had a nipple-areolar tattoo. There was a significant improvement in patient satisfaction with nipple reconstruction from pre-tattoo (m = 74.4) to post-tattoo (m = 81.0), p = 0.013 (2-tailed), with no significant difference between clinicians. Conclusion: Patients reported through completion of the BREAST-Q, that nipple-areolar tattooing significantly improves satisfaction with their nipple reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-68
Number of pages8
JournalJPRAS Open
Issue number2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • Breast reconstruction
  • Nipple-areolar reconstruction tattooing
  • Patient-reported outcomes measure


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