Tattoos, Piercings and Fillers
Tattoos have become very popular. Many have this form of body art. There are some things to consider when getting a tattoo on your breast.
Breasts change with age. As women age, their natural estrogen levels decrease. Because breast tissue density is stimulated by estrogen, breasts become less “perky” and more “saggy.” The breasts of older women tend to be ptotic, or droopy. Breasts will also change size and shape during pregnancy as well as with significant weight gain or weight loss. Tattoos on the breast will be affected by these changes, so those rose tattoos may resemble tulips if the skin stretches or sags.
Certain tattoo dyes contain iron pigments and other metallic pigments. For patients who require MRIs, these metallic pigments may interact with the magnets of the MRI. This magnetic effect causes the metal atoms to vibrate. The vibration leads to the creation of heat which can cause skin burns. For those patients who are at high risk for developing breast cancer, such as patients with a significant family history of breast cancer, they may want to avoid tattoo dyes with metallic pigments. Patients should let their MRI technician know about their tattoos before having an MRI.
For women who have breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, tattoo artists can create a new nipple on their reconstructed breasts. Some plastic surgeons will have these artists come to their clinics to create these nipple tattoos. If you have had breast reconstruction, ask your surgeon about your options of obtaining a new nipple.
Piercings are another form of body art. Some choose to have their nipples pierced. Some of the risks associated with nipple piercing include:
- Breast infections, which may come from using equipment that is not sterile when performing the piercing or from blockage of ducts that are affected by the piercing.
- Breastfeeding difficulties.
- Fistulas, which are drainage tracts connecting the ducts of the breast to the skin.
For those who have had their nipples pierced, keeping the nipples clean and piercing jewelry clean will help decrease the risk of infection, but it does not eliminate infection risk.
Some women, in the search of larger breasts, have sought the help of injections to enlarge their breasts. A trend for women vacationing in tropical areas is to have saline injections to enlarge their breasts. This may cause temporary results, but the saline will be reabsorbed into the body and the breasts will return to their pre-injection size. Saline injections may be associated with infection as well as bleeding.
Fat transfer augmentation is a procedure used by plastic surgeons. The patient’s fat is removed by liposuction, processed and then injected into their breasts to enlarge their breasts. Fat transfer augmentation can lead to problems, including the formation of cysts and lumps from where the fat was injected. And changes in the patient’s mammograms may be seen, which can mimic the appearance of cancer and lead to biopsies to rule out cancer.
Some may take advantage of a woman’s desires for breast enlargement and inject silicone, paraffin, PAH (polyacrylamide hydrogel) or other non-FDA approved materials into her breasts. Serious, sometimes life threatening consequences, have been associated with these injections. Women should be highly discouraged from seeking out these non-FDA approved injections.
For more information about problems associated with injectables, refer to:
Complications from injectable materials used for breast augmentation by Walter Peters W and Fornasier Can J Plast Surg. 2009 Autumn; 17(3):89-96.
When it comes to your breast, think about your ink and know before you go… or pierce or fill.