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Tattoos For Breast Cancer Survivors

Nipple Tattoo After Mastectomy

Tattoo artist helping breast cancer survivors

Unlike traditional nipple tattooing performed by medical aestheticians in a plastic surgeons office to add color and create an areola around a reconstructed nipple, 3-D tattoos are often used instead of reconstruction.

These permanent nipple tattoos are designed and performed by tattoo artists in shops and in some specialized medical centers. Some aestheticians are now also offering 3-D nipple tattoos using a semi-permanent technique similar to that used for microblading eyebrows.

The practitioner uses an oscillating tattoo needle coated with pigment. The pigment is inserted into the skin to create the appearance of a nipple.

Heres what you can expect when you go for a nipple tattoo:

Can I Have An Mri After A Tattoo

An MRI uses magnets to get images of inside the body, this can affect any metal or metal fragments in your body.

If you need an MRI tell the radiographer you have a tattoo. This is because some tattoo inks contain traces of metal. However most tattoos are safe in the scanner.

If you do feel any heat or discomfort in your tattoo area while having an MRI tell the radiographer.

‘it’s Devastating That We’re All Here’

Jamie Eppler, from Philadelphia, said her tattoo experience made her realize that in addition to taking back control, the pain she felt physically during her tattoo appointment brought her awareness of her body.

“Every little bit just reminds me that I’m in my body, I’m in control, this is what I want to be doing, versus having surgeries,” she said.

As the day went on, Eppler said that in addition to all the love she felt, there was still a feeling of sadness that settled in as her tattoo was finishing up.

“Emotionally I’m so conflicted, so happy, so filled with gratitude, so excited that this whole community is here,” said Eppler. “And it’s devastating that we’re all here It’s really hard that I have to be here, and put my body through this.”

Lazarovitz added that it’s a long journey that some women continue for, at times, the remainder of their lives. Even as they get their scars covered with tattoos, there are still moments when the pain of the experience resurfaces.

“It’s like this terrible group that nobody wants to be a part of,” Lazarovitz said. “But, you find your people. And you are able to at least connect with others who understand what you’re going through. All I’m trying to do is to just add a little bit of self-confidence back into their lives.”

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Meet Tattoo Artist Vinnie Myers Team: The Mission And Motivation

Shockney then made it a point to make sure other women could have the same option. With her influence, reach and recommendations among Johns Hopkins patients and survivors, word spread quickly about Myers. His schedule filled up with nipple tattoo appointments.

It got super busy, busier than I really wanted it to be, he recalled. Then, about five years ago, he felt he reached a tipping point.

Thats when I kind of decided I wasnt going to do it anymore. And the day that I decided to stop is the day my sister called me and told me she had breast cancer, he said.

That was on a Monday. I decided, This is a sign that Ive got to keep doing this.

Myers made a decision to devote his career entirely to nipple and areola tattooing.

And from that point, it just went completely ballistic.

A Breakthrough And A Sign

Pin on Tattoos

Myers first began tattooing three-dimensional nipples in 2001 after meeting a woman who worked for a Baltimore plastic surgeon, unhappy with the results of his own efforts to ink. He started working with the doctor out of the surgeons practice. Soon, other doctors reached out wanting him to work on their patients, too. Eventually, he started having doctors simply send patients to his shop.

The real breakthrough came in 2004 when Lillie Shockney caught wind of Myers talent.

The administrative director of the Johns Hopkins Breast Center, and a two-time breast cancer survivor, Shockney paid Myers a visit after seeing his work on one of her clients.

They looked like the real thing, she remembers thinking. Shockney left her hour-long meeting with Myers so impressed with the man and his work that she booked an appointment to get her own nipples done.

She returned two weeks later with her husband. As Myers went to work on her chest, Shockney averted her eyes until the big reveal, a moment that still gets her emotionally worked up more than 10 years later.

When he finished, he turned my chair so I could face the mirror, and I burst into tears, says Shockney, 62, her voice suddenly filling with emotion. I said, Oh my God, these look real, and my husband said, They sure do. I havent seen these for almost 20 years.

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What Is A Breast Cancer Tattoo

You might want a breast cancer survivor tattoo, or a tattoo to show support for a loved one with breast cancer. Whatever the case, breast cancer tattoos often incorporate the pink ribbon. They often also incorporate meaningful symbols. Some of the common symbols used in breast cancer tattoos are:

  • Butterflies: Symbolize hope, as well our souls and rebirth.
  • Birds: Different birds represent different things, but birds in general represent freedom, life, and peace.
  • Flowers and Plants: Once again, different types of flowers can symbolize a wide range of meanings, but all flowers and plants can be used to represent growth and creation.
  • Dragonflies: Symbolize transformation and light.
  • Boxing Gloves: Represent the fight that those affected by cancer have faced.
  • Crosses and Religious Symbols: Represent faith in God.

Symbols and imagery that have a more personal meaning are also very common in breast cancer tattoos.

Tribal Tattoo With Pink Ribbon By Burt

An intricate tribal band tattoo with a pink ribbon incorporated in. Truly awesome!

See more on Instagram: @kiwi.burt

Which breast cancer tattoo was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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    The Tattoo Process Gives Survivors Back Some Control Over Their Bodies

    For Budow, the tattoo procedure is the final step of a long journey and it’s a step that allows her to take back some ownership of a body that’s had many choices made for it recently.

    This is me being done, and I can I say Im a survivor, but now, the scar is not a scar. I look at this tattoo like a badge of honor, she told TODAY. Thats really whats so exciting about this being that last part its the part that I have control over.

    Budow, a longtime New Yorker, moved to Boca Raton, Florida, during the pandemic and traveled back to the city for her appointment.

    The first step in the office was for Giles to draw stencils on Budows breasts in the place and size that Budow preferred. From there, Giles mixed various ink shades together and tested them on Budows skin. In the weeks before the appointment, Budow tried out different shapes, sizes and colors of nipples on her skin using temporary tattoos.

    Giles started with a test spot on Budow to see what level of sensation she had in the breast and how her skin took the ink. Budow felt a light pinching sensation in one breast and had no pain in the other.

    Then Giles got to work on the tattoo. She started with the basics of the nipple and areola on one breast, then the other. Then she went back to finish the details on both. The whole process took about two hours, during which Budow FaceTimed with her mom and her friends to show off Giles’s work in progress.

    Why Get A Tattoo

    Breast cancer survivors use tattoos to help heal

    Why do so many breast cancer survivors want a tattoo?

    First, many women feel empowered by the tattoos they receive following their cancer treatment. Tattoos can give women a sense of control over their bodies by masking mastectomy scars or mimicking the look of nipples. Women might also get tattoos to commemorate their breast cancer journey.

    Are Tattoos Safe for Breast Cancer Survivors?

    Ultimately, a breast cancer survivors decision to get a tattoo is one of personal significance and is best left to the survivor.

    Before you take the plunge, however, consider the risks tattoos can pose to breast cancer survivors. While tattoos pose general health and safety risks to all who get them, breast cancer survivors may be at a slightly higher risk than the general population.

    Infection is the most prevalent risk associated with tattoos. Because tattoo inking involves continuous skin puncturing and ink injection, unsanitary equipment can cause prolonged redness and swelling paired with a fever. If you experience any of these symptoms after your tattoo appointment, contact your doctor immediately.

    Our Breast Cancer Care

    The Regional Cancer Care Associates team hopes this guide will help you reach a sound decision about whether you, as a breast cancer survivor, should get a tattoo. If you still have questions about tattoos, stop by one of our locations to speak with a member of our staff today to help you reach a conclusion with confidence.

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    Tattoos After Breast Cancer: Know The Facts

    Breast cancer survivors often get tattoos to celebrate their recent victory over their disease. They may choose one or more artistic tattoos and, if theyve undergone a mastectomy, can elect to receive tattoos that have the realistic look of nipples.

    Tattoos, however, can cause health complications for breast cancer survivors, many of whom are still recovering from the effects of treatment or the disease itself. Before you make that artistic statement on your body, take a closer look at the tattoo-related risks with this guide from Regional Cancer Care Associates.

    Can A Tattoo Be Removed

    Its possible to have a tattoo removed using laser technology, but it can take several visits a few weeks apart and can be expensive. Theres also no guarantee that it will be completely removed. It can be painful and cause skin problems, such as becoming red and swollen. The pigment of the skin can also change.

    Sometimes its possible to change the tattoo by covering the previous design with another tattoo.

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    Why Do Survivors Get Tattoos

    When someone has breast cancer, it is not only the patient who needs to cope with the changes. It also affects their partner and their children. Tattoos are a way of connecting all the people who have been through this experience. The tattoo can be a symbol of hope or strength that they will carry through life. It can represent how they feel then, like gratitude or acceptance. They can also be used as commemorative tattoos to honor those who have passed away from breast cancer, including their own mother or grandmother. Tattoos are one way for these patients to show what they went through and find meaning in it. Tattoos are a great way to mark what they have been through and create something personal.

    What Are The Risks Of Getting A Tattoo

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    For anyone getting a tattoo the biggest risk is from dirty needles that can spread diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. Tattoo artists should always use sterile equipment and fresh needles.

    Other risks include:

    • Infection see below
    • Allergy to pigment this is very rare but some studios do offer a patch test before a tattoo
    • its possible to get tattoos removed but its expensive and can be very painful. Theres also no guarantee that a tattoo can be completely removed.
    • The colour fading the pigment will naturally fade over time. To reduce initial fading avoid swimming, sunbathing, using a sunbed or doing exercise that makes you sweat for two weeks after having a tattoo. You can use a high factor sunscreen on your tattoo to help reduce fading

    The tattooed area will be swollen, red and may itch but this should go away over time. You may also have some bruising to the area.

    If any redness or swelling doesnt go away and you develop a high temperature or feel feverish you may have an infection. If you think you have an infection contact your GP, nearest urgent care centre or A& E as soon as possible as you may need antibiotics.

    Also Check: Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool

    Jennifer Aniston Went Makeup Free To Show Off Her Two

    My tattoos are part of who I am as a woman, kind of like my scars have become. As an artist and as a woman living with metastatic breast cancer, I have a story to tell, and I just happen to wear my story on my skin. Ive spent my 21-year career in the field of tattooing, so not every tattoo has an intention behind it. They do, however, all speak to me. They serve as reminders of where I was at any given moment, physically or mentally, over the last 20 years, as well as how far Ive come in life. Some of my favorites are my childrens names, my grandparents portraits, and the Hindu god Ganeshathe remover of obstacleson my throat, which I got just after my terminal breast cancer diagnosis. Beth Fairchild

    I was introduced to a group called Live a Great Story after my breast cancer diagnosis, and its message really resonated with me as I slowly worked toward acceptance: No matter what life throws at you, you can and should live a great story. It isnt over! One of my dreams was to take my family on a beautiful vacation. Last February, just before COVID, my husband and I took our three adult children and our husbands or significant others and grandkids on a dream trip to Hawaii. The palm tree and water represent that trip and the words speak for themselves: Whatever your story, make it a great one! Lynn Calhoun

    Colorful Sunflowers Pink Ribbon Tattoo By Trap Ink Tattoos

    Sunflowers represent unconditional love, making a tattoo like this super meaningful if a loved one has breast cancer. It is also a gorgeous tattoo that is perfect for everyone who loves the sunny and happy look of sunflowers. A pink ribbon wraps around one flower to tie into the composition.

    See more on Instagram: @trapinktattoos

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    My Dog Got A Temporary Heart Tattoo And It Lasted More Than 2 Years

    Youve heard of a triple nipple, but this woman has eight extras all made of ink.

    Tattoo artist Vicky Martin has, for the past 15 years, specialized in tattooing nipples on breast cancer survivors whove had theirs removed due to surgery. The dedicated mother-of-one is an expert at her niche trade but remains deadset on continuing to improve, which she does by practicing on herself.

    Im always coming up with new techniques and trying out new products, and I am happy to use my leg as a canvas if it means the outcome is better for my clients, the Three Mile Cross, UK, resident told Reuters. I currently have two realistic nipples on my leg. I definitely get some strange looks but it doesnt bother me.

    While she has two at the moment, shes inked eight nips onto her thighs over the years, but she eventually covers them all up with other tattoos once shes finished observing how the original tat stands the test of time.

    Its worth it to see how the nipples heal on skin so I can assess my work, explained the areola expert, who runs training courses in the Vicky Martin Method of nipple tattooing across the world.

    Back in the day when Martin first attended a Portland, Oregon, training school 15 years ago women whod recently had their nipples removed in a mastectomy were lucky, she said, if they got an ink replacement that looked like an orange blob.

    The industry has come a long way since, which is a godsend for cancer survivors.

    Getting Tattoo Ideas And Inspiration

    Tattoo artist helps breast cancer survivors heal from the scars left by surgery

    If you would like some inspiration for a tattoo design you can read our blog Eight inspiring mastectomy tattoos. The US charity has a gallery of images that may give you some ideas.

    You could also have a look at our online Forum and see if anyone has had a tattoo and where they had it done, or start your own thread.

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    Every Pain Every Sadness Just Disappeared: Richmond Tattoo Artist Covers Up Breast Cancer Port Scars

    RICHMOND, Va. – For years, many breast cancer survivors have found solace in getting mastectomy tattoos, but now there is another aspect of their journey that is getting a little artwork as well.

    Amy Black, owner of Amy Black Tattoos in Richmonds Carytown neighborhood, has transformed areas of the body into works of art for more than 20 years.

    However, beyond the blank canvas of the body, she is well known for her mastectomy tattoos.

    In 2010, Black started doing this specialized tattooing and has partnered with breast cancer groups and medical teams across the country. The Richmond artist even founded her own non-profit, Pink Ink Fund to help financially support breast cancer patients with their post-mastectomy tattoo.

    Breast cancer survivors have sought Blacks skills over the years to mark their journey forward.

    I definitely think its a way for them to reclaim their body, their health, their power, their choice, she said. Their ability to choose what they want to do with themselves post-cancer treatment.

    However, for many breast cancer survivors, the scars of their journey remain – literally.

    Jan. 13 is when I found out, said Jessica Bourne, a breast cancer survivor.

    2020 was a year that impacted all of us. For Bourne, it was a bit more difficult continuing to serve her community as a Richmond Police forensic investigator all while battling breast cancer.

    My philosophy in life is when youre having a bad day, someone else is having a worse day, she said.


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