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Nipple-Areola Tattoos: Making the Right Referral

Dina DiCenso
Erica Fischer-Cartlidge
ONF 2015, 42(6), E376-E381 DOI: 10.1188/15.ONF.E376-E381

Purpose/Objectives: To examine oncology care providers’ knowledge of tattooing options for patients who have elected to have breast reconstruction as part of their breast cancer treatment.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: A large metropolitan cancer center in New York and various locations across the United States.

Sample: 68 oncology care providers who work with women with breast cancer, distributed into two groups: RNs (n = 43) and non-RNs (n = 25).

Methods: Descriptive statistics were used to summarize online survey responses for the two groups, with inferential comparisons made with logistic regression models.

Main Research Variables: Healthcare profession, discussion of reconstructive tattoo options with patients, knowledge of providers of reconstructive tattoos outside of traditional healthcare settings, and recommendations made to patients.

Findings: RNs were significantly less likely to recommend a professional tattoo artist to a patient than non-RNs, despite a similar proportion of both groups believing that a tattoo artist would provide the patient with a better tattoo than healthcare providers (HCPs).

Conclusions: Additional research is needed to identify education deficits in HCPs regarding tattoo reconstruction options. HCPs are recommending potentially substandard options for nipple-areola tattooing, even though many believe that tattoo artists, who are outside of the traditional healthcare setting, could provide better outcomes for patients.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses and other HCPs require additional education about nipple-areola tattoo options for patients following breast cancer surgery.

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