It’s now almost become normal for me not to have nipples, and strangely, it does not bother me at all. But I am fairly sure I am going to get my nipples reconstructed in a few months. Until then, I am going to test out some options for temporary nipples to see how I feel about them.
I hadn’t thought much about temporary nipples, but while I was in hospital after my exchange surgery I was chatting to my breast care nurse about whether on not I was going to get my nipples reconstructed. I mentioned I was undecided and would look into other options while I was deciding. She later returned with a sample set of nipple tattoos.
These are from a local supplier here in Adelaide called Pink Lotus Australia (who do have an online shop!)
My first reaction when I saw them was that they were huge! And very pink. But I would give them a try anyway, to see what I think of them.
I waited until six weeks after my surgery to give them a try. The main reason is because every day I massage my scars for ten minutes with Bio Oil. Oil though is what is used to remove the tattoos, so I knew that while I had them on I would have to be very careful to only massage the parts of the scars not covered.
Putting them on was simple, just like those temporary tattoos we all loved as kids. Peel off the plastic coating on the front, place it tattoo side down where you want it and hold a wet cloth over it for 30 seconds.
I did note that there was a correct way up, the shadows around the nipples should go towards the bottom, although this wasn’t mentioned in the instructions.
Pink Lotus Australia also sells a product called Shine Remover that gets rid of the shiny look that the tattoos have for a more realistic appearance and to help them stay on longer. Since I only have this trial set of nipples I do not have the shine remover, and I honestly didn’t really notice them being shiny. I guess if you were planning to use the tattoos long term, then I would give the shine remover a go and see what you thought of it.
So what did I think? I didn’t quite get the placement right, but that would come with practice, and I think I would try the smaller size next time, but once on I liked the colour. I liked that the edges blended quite naturally into my skin. I liked that the process to put them on was easy. I quite liked the look in the mirror.
I really liked that they lasted for quite a few days (the website says 10-14) without any extra effort. I did notice that at about day 7 they started to peel around the edges a little, and by day ten about 1/3 had rubbed off (but I had done some big hikes and they had rubbed a lot against my tight bra!). My husband also was impressed by them.
If you want to give them a go, click through to order some from Pink Lotus Australia
For my US readers, I have not been able to find the exact same ones, but there are some temporary nipple tattoos available on Amazon here. If you have tried them, I’d love to hear about it below in the comments and what you thought.
When I started searching for other options for nipples these came up. Amoena is the brand of post surgical bras I have been wearing so I thought these could be a good option to try. I ordered them and waited for them to arrive.
Funnily enough, my name was tiny on the package and a friend who I share my PO Box with was the first to come across it. She didn’t notice the name so then proceeded to open it, in front of the PO staff, to make sure it was something she had ordered! No, it wasn’t, but now half my suburb probably knows I have prosthetic nipples lol. But I digress…
My first impressions were that I liked the size of these nipples better. They are available in three sizes, small, medium and large. I went with the medium ones. There were also four different colours available. I didn’t go with the lightest ones, mostly because I saw beforehand how light the tattoos were and thought I’d go for the next darker one called Almond.
Putting them on is super easy. Peel them off the back and put them where you want them to go. If you get it wrong, pull them off and reposition them.
Each night they need to be removed, cleaned with the cleaner supplied, left to air dry, then later, stored away back on their backing sheet. This preserves the “stick”.
These prosthetic nipples had some good features and some bad. In general I liked them. I probably should have gone for the lighter colour, but that’s not their fault. I really liked that they were 3D. A bump could be seen through my clothing, including when wearing my Amoena super tight post surgical bra (US link here). They did not move at all during the day and I felt confident they weren’t going to. The extra effort to remove and clean them each night was a little annoying to me though.
So far, after three weeks of wear, they have not yet lost any of their sticking ability. If they do, I would consider trying some sort of body adhesive (we called it “Bum Glue” when my daughter did gymnastics and it was used to keep the leotards in place) to extend their life.
US readers click here to buy Amoena Nipple Set from Amazon US
Australian readers click here to buy Amoena Nipple Set from Amazon AU
Which were the Best Temporary Nipples?
I liked both types of temporary nipples for different reasons, and I think which type to go with really depends on why you want them in the first place. While I really liked the 3D look of the prosthetic nipples, the extra effort to take them on and off each day was a bit much for me. It also defeated one of the main reasons I am trialling nipples – for my husband – since they weren’t on at night time anyway.
If I really felt like something was missing and having nipples would help with how I felt about myself when I looked in the mirror, then the prosthetic nipples I think give a more realistic “look” when wearing clothes as well as when looking in the mirror.
The prosthetic nipples would also be great if you have only had a single mastectomy to help match with the remaining natural nipple.
But if I had to choose again for myself, I would go with the tattoos, just because they take less effort to look after and are there 24/7. Yes, I’m a bit lazy 🙂
But What About Nipple Reconstruction?
Trying out these temporary nipples has definitely helped me with my decision on whether to get my nipples reconstructed. My feeling after this was that “temporary” is not for me since that was the thing that annoyed me the most. For myself I was just as happy to go without nipples as to make the effort to put them on!
That means my solution could be nipple reconstruction then permanent tattoos (my first!) for the colour, or I could just go with some of the amazing 3D tattoos that can be done now.
I did quite like that with the prosthetic nipples I had that bump again. I also quite like that without nipples I would be able to go bra-less without that “high beam” effect! But would I really do that? After so many years of wearing a bra I feel almost naked without one.
I still have six weeks before I see my surgeon again, but at this stage I am leaning towards nipple reconstruction. Like my surgeon says, I think it will just help me to feel “finished”.
Want to read more of my story? Here are some of the key posts
- Lumpectomy and Finally the Results
- My Bilateral Mastectomy with Tissue Expanders
- Exchange Surgery – From Expanders to Implants
Found this post useful? Please pin so it can help others too.
Those first ones look great – I personally much prefer them to the ones with “bumps”
In the end – it is what pleases you. Only you and hubby are going to see them after all 😀😜
Thanks Sally. I grew to prefer the tattoos over time – I think I got the colour completely wrong with the prosthetic nipples. Oh well, luckily they are temporary 🙂
Not sure I’d like the bumps either. I’d probably give each of the temp ones each a longer trial period before deciding. And speak to others women who’ve tried the various options including the reconstruction.
Personally I wouldn’t take advice about how a female would feel finished with someone who hasn’t experienced being unfinished.
You are right! I have heard from many other ladies who have had nipple reconstructions that they DO feel “finished” – but I’m not sure it bothers me to be “unfinished”, if that makes sense. Other people say they prefer to stay without nipples, because really, who are we trying to fool – they will never be the real thing! It’s such a personal decision, and if you asked me twelve months ago what I would have chosen my answer would probably have been very different. Until you live it, you just don’t know!
Your cancer journey is my story too! It is like I am reading my own words. I was diagnosed early October and had the exact operations and outcomes. It was a very scarey time with a lot of tears. I was given the option to have immediate implants with the Bilateral mastectomy on 2 Dec 19. Unfortunately for me I ended up with Necrosis of the skin. It was Christmas so I decided to see if I could heal on my own, I had my 2 children and husband to think of. It became infected and come early January I was back into theatre to have the necrosis skin and implants removed and expanders in. I have since had the exchange to my implants and am nearly at the 3 week mark. It feels so good to be told you can drive again even if it is only to collect my children from school. I am too trying to work out what I will do next with nipple construction. And want to do this before the end of the year because of the excess in insurance. Thank you for writing your journey, I will be interested in hearing what you decided to do next.
Thanks for sharing your story Jodie – it is always comforting to hear others are going through the same things! Gosh, our dates are so similar too! My DMX was 5 Dec 19! I have the exact reason for getting this sorted by the end of the year too – the insurance excess! I hope things are going well for you now, and hope I can at least be a small help in your decision 🙂
Hi Josie, Your reconstruction looks amazing and good on you for going through with another operation. I still haven’t decided what to do about nipple reconstruction, I am still enjoying the freedom of not having to see my doctor.
I have been advised by my Surgeon to have an actual Doctor do my tattooing around the nipple area. Just wondering if you have been advised the same?
My surgeon uses a lady that specialises in 3d nipple tattoos. She’s not a doctor, but a professional tattooist. I haven’t actually researched it fully myself, and depending on where you are it might be different (although I’m assuming you are in Australia too by your email address) but I believe that if it is done by a doctor/medical professional here it is covered either by Medicare or Private Health Insurance, whereas if it is done by someone else it has to be paid for just like a normal tattoo. Maybe that is part of your doctor’s reasoning? Perhaps ask why that is the recommendation?
We also have a charitable group here called Survivor’s Ink that travels around the country doing nipples for free in different cities – but that is on hold right now due to a mixture of Covid and I believe the main tattooist has retired.
From what I have read, the results seem to be better when done by a professional tattooist. They are also permanent. The cosmetic procedures done by the medical professionals seem to be the ones that fade over time and need to regularly be redone.
Definitely something I need to look into more though in the next few months before I go down that track….
I am thinking seriously about the 3D nipple tattoos do this was a good read. My plastic surgeon just told me Thursday that I could now get them. I have my consult in a little over a month. I chose not to reconstruct to avoid more surgery, they wouldn’t really have feeling, and I would like to go braless, especially in the hot summer. Although I am like you, and not sure that I will actually go braless.
The temporary tattoos are a great way to test our how you will feel about a permanent tattoo. Good luck with your decision 🙂