March of 1997, I got my nipples and areolae tattooed with bright red stars. When I started the project, I had a hell of a time finding any useful information, and every once in awhile, I get e-mail from someone else who is interested in doing something similar, so I thought I would put my experience here, where it is easily findable.
First off, (to answer the question that I'm sure is on your mind) they really didn't hurt that
much. Seriously. I realize that everyone is different when it comes to this stuff, but as a
point of comparison, my arse and upper thighs were FAR more painful. But now I'm
getting ahead of myself.
I first got the idea to tattoo my breasts around the time I first got my nipples pierced (a year or so before I got 'em inked). At that point I was more thinking in terms of outlines - kind of framing my nipples, to set off the piercings nicely. Many months, and another set of piercings later, I decided that my stars would look much better filled in. So I started doing some research to find out whether there were any significant risks or horror stories I should know about. I didn't come across anything particularly scary, but the pain factor was still kind of making me nervous, so I hung out and though about it for a little while longer.
I'm not sure what triggered me to make the final decision to do it. If anything, it was just
that I was feeling really really ready to get tattooed again, and the nipple stars were the
only project I had in mind that I had really thought out. So I called Chemaine (I'm not
sure if I'm spelling that right - I hope so! I'm going to try to at least be consistent) at
Strange Brew in Buffalo, NY to talk the idea over with her and hopefully make an
appointment. She's done highly satisfactory work on both my husband and me, and she's
just a really friendly, great person to get tattooed by anyway. She said she would do it,
but she asked that I speak to a doctor first to ensure that a tattoo there wouldn't cause any
lasting damage to the glands and ducts and things that are right there.
So I made a few more calls. The first person I talked to was pretty clueless but, to her credit, admitted that she was and put me in touch with a doctor - Michael Schwartz at Columbia University Health Services - who has an interest in and experience with bodyart. The gist of our conversation was that his main concern was that an infected nipple/areola tattoo would have much more serious consequences than, say, an infected arm or leg tattoo. He did say that there was a slightly higher risk of infection for nipple tattoos (the figure he cited was 3-5%, but I don't know where he got those numbers). His main concern with infection was that an infection there would get into the milk ducts and things and be much more problematic than on other parts of the body. Although he would not state this directly (presumably for liability reasons), I was able to infer that things should go just fine assuming that the tattoo was done in a clean environment and that I took proper care of it afterwards.
I reported this information to Chemaine and we made an appointment. Strange Brew don't have the ideal setup for tattooing - it's a retail shop as well, and there's no private area where the tattoos can be done. So my appointment was made for after store hours, which was just about as good.
When we got there, Chemaine was finishing up the guy whose appointment was before mine. The other woman who works there checked my ID and gave me the release forms to sign. Then, we just hung out and poked around the shop while the artist put the finishing touches on the other guy's arm,, took a picture or two for her portfolio, and bandaged him up. As soon as he and his friends left and she had cleaned the tattooing area, it was my turn!
Strange Brew sells a lot of Wiccan/pagan stuff, which means they happen to have tons of
5-pointed-star stuff around. Chemaine had picked out a wooden star that she thought
would be just about the perfect size for my tattoo. So I stripped down and we held it up
to my nipple to get an idea of size and placement and stuff. It turned out that it was
indeed the correct size. I put my shirt back on (the shop tended to be a bit chilly - it is in
Buffalo, after all!!) while she drew up the stencil.
When she had it all ready to go, I took my shirt off again, removed my nipple barbells
and stood straight while she positioned the stencil. The points are right about at the edges
of my areolae - I would have liked them to have been a bit bigger, but considering the
size and shape of my breasts, bigger ones wouldn't have looked anywhere near as good
When the placement was right and the stencil had dried, I took a deep breath or two, grabbed a handful of the lollipops Chemaine keeps around for these kind of occasions, and sat down in the chair.
We had decided to do the outlines in a deep maroon color, and the stars themselves in bright red. She, of course, loaded up the gun for the outlines first. I popped a blueberry lollipop in my mouth and told her to begin. I barely felt the first lines she did, and the rest of the outline was just about as painless. She finished in what felt like no time at all, which was cool. She had several different shades of red ink, and she dabbed a patch of each one on my skin so I could choose the one I wanted. The color I picked was a nice rosy red, not too dark and not too orange. We decided to mix a little maroon in with it to make it a little darker.
The color went just about as easily as the outline had. She did all the bits except for the
nipple first, and then it was time for what I thought was going to be the hard part.
Luckily, by this time, my endorphins had kicked in nicely, and I was feeling all nice and drowsy and floaty. (It was certainly not a sexual thing, but I got more of an endorphin rush from this than I've gotten from any other tattoo or piercing.) I barely noticed when she went from tattooing areola to tattooing nipple.
We took a break between breasts.
I knew from the beginning that the right one (she started with the left) would be more painful - the first line of the outline was much ouchier than the other side had been. The endorphins from the first star had kind of worn off at that point, and the piercing in that nipple had been acting up a bit, too, so I figured the whole thing would hurt more. I was right. None of it hurt anywhere near what I had been expecting, and a lot of it wasn't particularly painful at all. The parts that hurt, however, REALLY hurt.
The whole thing took about two and a half hours to finish. When Chemaine was done
tattooing, she soaked a napkin in boiling water and held it against each of the fresh
tattoos for a few seconds. It hurts like hell, but it does a great job of keeping the scabbing
down and somehow helping the tattoo to heal up nicely! We put my jewelry back in,
which actually hurt more than the tattoo itself had. Then she bandaged me up (she uses
the saran wrap method), accepted my payment, and sent me on my way.
More endorphins kicked in on the way home, and I was pretty much out of it for the rest of the night. It was actually kinda nice.
The healing process went fairly well. The tattoos didn't scab up too badly, and they
never got as horribly itchy as some ink gets.
Unfortunately, pretty much all the ink came out of the nipples themselves. The areolae
look fine, and the color - of both the tattoos and of my nipples - is pink enough that it's
not hugely noticeable...but I notice, dammit! My best guess is that I lost so much ink
because nipples are so porous - they are designed to secrete fluid, after all. I did go for
one touch-up about a year later, but it didn't really help all that much. At this point, I'm
not sure if I'm going to bother continuing with touch-ups or just accept them the way
they are. I did correspond with one woman who tattooed her nipples completely black.
She said that it took several sessions of going over and over the same small area, but eventually she got the color to stay in. So it is possible.now I just have to decide if it's worth it to me to do it.
My stars are a tattoo that's somewhat outside of the usual realm, and they are a fun secret to have! I have, of course, been rather judicious about who I've shown them to, and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Overall, I'm quite happy with the way they turned out.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 15 June 1999