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Tattooing of Nipple-Areola Complex Usually Successful

Study of mastectomy patients shows high satisfaction rates but also concerns about fading

FRIDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- In women who have undergone mastectomy and breast reconstruction, tattooing the nipple-areola complex is a simple and safe procedure that results in a high patient-satisfaction rate, according to a study published in the October issue of the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery.

Chien C. Kat, M.B.B.S., F.R.C.S., of Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, U.K., and colleagues studied 40 patients who underwent tattooing as one of the final steps of breast reconstruction and followed them for a mean of 14 months.

The researchers found that most patients gave grades of good or very good for color match with the other nipple (82 percent), overall satisfaction (90 percent) and enhancement in body image (85 percent). They also found that 92 percent of patients reported color fading ranging from 5 percent to 80 percent (mean 32 percent) while a computer color analysis showed that the two nipples were similar to a value that ranged from 78 percent to 97 percent (mean 91 percent).

"An exact color match remains a challenge," the authors conclude. "The use of computer software for objective assessment of the outcome can be a very useful tool in reviewing and comparing results. This may also help us better understand the fading process."

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