Dermopigmentation of the nipple-areola complex in a dedicated breast cancer centre, following the Treviso Hospital (Italy) LILT model

Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2020 Oct-Dec;56(4):444-451. doi: 10.4415/ANN_20_04_06.


Background: Dermopigmentation, also known as medical tattooing, is a complementary technique in the reconstruction of the nipple-areola and an adjuvant procedure to improve colour mismatch. In 2009, tattooing of the nipple-areola complex (NAC) was introduced by Treviso Hospital through a project conducted in cooperation with the local section of the Italian Anti-Cancer League (LILT).

Methods: From 2010 to 2016, 169 patients treated for breast cancer underwent dermopigmentation treatments. Patients were selected by the hospital plastic and breast surgeons. Dermopigmentation was performed at the LILT (Lega Italiana per la Lotta contro i Tumori, Italian Cancer League) facility following a specific procedure to ensure safety. A sterile disposable surgical set was used.

Results: Of 169 patients treated in 309 treatment sessions, no serious complications were reported after tattooing, with only three cases seen of minor complications. Patients expressed a high level of satisfaction (90%) with the aesthetic results.

Conclusion: The study found that dermopigmentation of the NAC is a safe approach, providing benefits both to the patients and the hospital itself. Medical tattooing of the NAC is a simple and safe nonsurgical technique that reduces missed workdays and increases the time available for other commitments. This ultimately translates into savings for society and the healthcare system.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Female
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Mammaplasty*
  • Nipples*
  • Tattooing*