HealthDay News — A new device allows plastic surgeons to perform three-dimensional nipple tattoos as part of breast reconstruction, according to a study published in the January issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Solomon Azouz, M.D., from the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, and colleagues surveyed 753 plastic and reconstructive surgery offices to assess current practices of three-dimensional medical tattooing for nipple reconstruction following mastectomy. The authors also developed and present a nipple-by-number device, a three-dimensionally printed stencil to ensure an accurate, consistent, and personalized aesthetic result during three-dimensional nipple-areola complex tattooing.

The researchers found that 23 percent of facilities that offer reconstruction do not perform or refer for nipple-areola complex tattooing, leaving the patients to seek the service on their own. The nipple-by-number device gives the patients the option of having their premorbid nipple-areola complex anatomy restored through preoperative photographs or choosing from a catalogue of designs. Furthermore, the device can be applied on any reconstructed breast mound whether or not a nipple projection procedure has been performed.

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“The nipple-by-number device permits the plastic surgeon or supervised treating specialist to inexpensively, efficiently, and expeditiously perform the three-dimensional nipple-areola complex tattooing in their office,” the authors write.

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