radiation tatto--what it like

I had a new breast nurse today,when i asked her about the tattoo for rads she was so dismissive of my problem with needes and treat me like a 2 year old. I nearly hit her.

so what do they use to do the tattoo. I can just about cope with getting my eyebrows tattooed, but that is more like a vibrating pen and does not realy penetrate far. (its not pain thats the problem but the idea of metal penetrating my skin) I had to be heavily sedated for the pre SNB injection.

I know i can ask about this at the meeting with my onc next week, but I would like to get this little worry out of the way.

I didn’t even notice that the radiographer was wielding the thing but realised afterwards that it looked more like a pen than a needle. It’s very quick as they only make really tiny marks and it doesn’t penetrate very far. In fact I felt it less than when I had semi-permanent eye liner done a few years back. However I can understand why you are nervous!

Hi QAL dont worry about the tattoos hun, honestly they are nothing all they do at the very end of your planning session is add tiny blob of perminant ink to the 2 or 3 areas where the tattoos are to go then its just a tiny pin prick to the top layer of skin theses are the only perminant marks but you cant see them I have to really look to find mine. So do the nurses when they go to pen mark them each morning

pin prick----warning bells, that means something metal going into me. This is a big issue. Will need to discuss it with them in a calm but firm manner before the appointment. Perhaps they will need to prescribe sedatives like they did for the nipple injection for the SNB

I had three separate marks - each one was just one prick (are you allowed to say that or do I have to say scratch, which it wasn’t!)
I can honestly say It didn’t really hurt, I could barely feel it - thinking about it first was much worse!
Try to think of other things if you are nervous about needles, chat about something else to the radiographer, or listen to your ipod or something.

Best wishes. Stella x

Its just like pin pricking your finger it only goes into the top layer of skin … no futher its nothing like having an injection or blood where needle goes in & is there for few seconds this is just making tiny spot mark on the skin
I found laying dead still topless on the hard bench the hardest part you’ll have a gown when treatments start.

Talk it over at your meeting not sure if you’ll be able to be sedated, I could be wrong but the planning only takes 20 mins tops & although you need to lay very still while measurements are being done they do need your full co-operation when they need you to move slightly

that sounds like the pre snb proceedure.they gave me a short acting tablet for that, so i was concious but able to control my fear

oldandlumpy … dont panic… its nowhere as bad as a professional tattoo. 3 small black dots thats all 3 pin pricks, dont worry its really nothing you are lying down on the rads bed in the correct possition for your treatment and you dont see a thing just feel 3 small scratches, the reason they do this is so they can measure you and put you in exactly the same possition for every treatment, i had one either side and ine in the middle, this was last year and they are hardley noticable now , it really is ok dont worry xx its nothing like the SNB injection, nothing more than a scratch honest, you dont see it, take big deep breaths , think of warm sunny beaches breath in through the nose and out through the mouth, deeply it will be all over before you know it, oh ps… i do blood tests for the nhs and your not alone with the needle phobia, the best way to deal with it , is explaine your needle phobic and ask the radiologist to talk to you about anything , holidays shopping pets anything and it will take your mind off what she is doing, it will be done before you know it good luck xxx


The tattoos are not as sore as a normal tattoo they only take a second to do the actual tattling the longest part of the session is getting you set up in the machine in the right position.

However if you don’t want to have tattoos you dint need to have them. You can be marked with a permanent marker which is covered in clear tape but it means you can’t shower for the 4or 5 weeks your having the rads.

It also means were you in the unlikely position to require further radiotherapy they dont have any physical landmarks of where you had it previously. But there are options if you really font want the tattoos tell them they will need to give you an alternative. I know two folk who were treated at the same time as me who opted not to have the tattoos.

Lulu xxx

I only had two tattoos and they are so tiny they didn’t even cause an “ouch”.

Ooh lucky you to only have two, I ended up with five! :slight_smile: I will reiterate what I said earlier though - I saw nothing even vaguely like a needle and it was just a tiny pin prick for each one.

OAL make sure you tell them exactly how you feel, so that they can make the whole process as stress free as possible.

…like they’re going to listen?

I wasn’t ever made aware that the tattoos could be refused till it was too late.

I did ask as I’m very pale skinned but was told that there was no choice.

I was told I didn’t need to have the tattoos but if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be allowed to wash for 5 weeks. So I had the tattoos! Didn’t fancy not washing OR wearing deodorant for 5 weeks! I’ve got 7 blue dots. They are quite visible but hopefully will fade in time. Only the top couple are visible with clothes on and I don’t tend to get my clothes off in public too often…
Al x

hi oal , i had 3 tiny tiny dots never even felt them just like a pen dotting on skin x


I had concerns over this at my planning appt. They are not mandatory but really important as they mean the RT sessions are always accurate.

I had 3 left/right & centre. They did sting a bit, but only took a very short time.

I tried to “show” my old mum the centre one when I saw her after & she had to put her glasses on!

Having them done feels a bit like a insect bite, one in the centre stung a bit more as less flesh.

I completed RT in March & don’t even think of them now, they do fade over time I understand.

Personally I’d encourage you to have them if you can cope with the proceedure. Perhaps they can give you a mild sedative to help.

If your BCN is good perhaps a phone call to her with your concerns. She should be able to help/advise.

Take care

I had 4 they look like tiny dots of blue biro,dont hurt at all and I have to really hunt to see mine over 4 years later.

As everyone has said already really. My hopsital stressed it was optional but advised it. The dots are so tiny that even the radiographers couldn’t always find them on a Monday morning! At my hospital they used marker pen as well (aligned with the tattoos)to make it easy to line you up with the machine.

Not really painful, though I had an LD reocnstruction before radiation and the tattoo nearest the muscle tunnel ‘nipped’ a bit.

By the way, the no deoderant rule is irrespective of having tattoos (some deoderants have chemicals that can ‘scatter’ the radiation)

They really aren’t a problem but make the treatment a bit quicker each day. If you really don’t want them then say so - it’s still your body after all.

my motto with everything I dont like
“grit teeth and get it over with”…have a needle phobia myself [ironically Im a nurse]had 7 tattoos ,tiny and really didnt hurt-mind mx made me numb so they could have harpooned me on that side if they wanted [lol]

if it looks like a pen i can probably cope. i can physc myself up to keeping still and not crying like a baby. I am not bothered about what it looks like afterwards, a bit too old and saggy to be vain. I might see if it is possible to see one before, will make it easier to be calm then