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Tattoo FAQ 10: Can you get tattoos on your breasts when you have implants?

Original question from our visitor: I have a really important question about tatooing (well, important to me anyway!!)
I had breast cancer and had both of my breast removed and "reconstucted," i.e. saline implants that feel close to the surface b/c I do not have any breast tissue, just the implants and my skin. the reconstruction job is fairly shitty but my doctor is an ass and won't write a good reason for the reconstruction to be redone.
So, over the last few years I've thought it would be cool to simply have the breast tatooed with big flowers or something. Do you know anyone who has ever done this with reconstructed breasts? Can it be done? How far does the needle go in? Any info would be sooooo great and really appreciated.

Answer: [this answer by: Wendy]

Hi S---,

First off, let me say congrats on overcoming the cancer!! It certainly puts everything else in life into perspective.
I myself have had a breast lift and implants. This was just done 5 months ago, and purely for cosmetic reasons. 2 kids and gravity had pulled them down to a point I just didnt like seeing myself and I found a wonderful doctor here close to Amsterdam in Antwerp Belgium who did my surgery. We actually asked him at a check up appointment just the other day about your specific case. Heres a few things we found out and a few things we already knew added to that.

We already knew a tattoo needle and ink should only go into the 2nd layer of the skin. Im sure there are times when the artist goes a bit deeper because unless you can chuck a human into a lathe and gauge the gun to a specific depth as you apply it, I cant for the life of me see how it couldnt happen. BUT a good artist, and I mean GOOD artist, has such a feel for his work, in truth, Id trust a few of them I have met for knowing the depth of the skin more than any machine. The key for perfection here is a good artist and yes, one who has done this sort of work before is ideal.

What troubles my surgeon just a bit is that it seems you might not have enough "material" between your skin and the implant. He used a pinching technique to show us if you can pinch and pull the skin up and away from the muscle, or bone or whatever, there SHOULD be enough to apply the ink. He often sends patients to a cosmetic tattoo artist to complete a breast augmentation by cleaning up the lines of the areola which can become blurred with the tiny white scars. He said the artist might need for you to sign a waiver though in case of rupture so he is not held accountable. Ive never heard of that but as I've said, this is a new area for me. I promise you I will look into this further.

In a perfect cosmetic breast reconstruction world, the implant goes under the muscle and getting a mammogram or a tattoo isn't an issue but in your case, this most likely wasn't an option at the time. My doctor did say there are ways to expand areas to hold an implant under the muscle, but this is alot of time, and money. My implants are under the muscle and you can not tell that they arent completely natural even to the touch. We have the cohesive gel implants here for the most part. Saline is rather frowned on in Europe it seems and in the states, its the opposite at least from the postings I get on which is a great site for information about any sort of cosmetic surgery you can imagine. I personally dont like saline because of the upkeep of having to re-fill them, or top them off. My implants come from France and have at least a 30 year expected life. Id be in my mid-70's before I have to think about them again. I also like the real feel.

I did have one issue with getting them and that is I had an existing tattoo on my left breast and with a lift, they make an incision at the center base of the breast up to the areola, and then basically take your nipple off to tighten the skin of the breast. Think of making a cone from paper, and then tighter you roll it the tighter the cone. He cut a piece of the skin away and pretty much rolled my breast like this, and then put the nipple back on. The thing is, this changes where things sit and my existing tattoo was going to end up in my nipple if he didnt make some allowances. He did wonderfully. You can read more about him if you like by going here: or here: He is really a great guy. Super soft spoken but makes folks jump in the hospital to get his patients good care.

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