Having breast cancer surgery can greatly affect a woman’s sense of herself. Nipple-sparing surgery is available to some women but not for those who have large tumors or tumors that are close to the nipple.
Nipple-sparing surgery is also more challenging as the blood supply must be maintained to the nipple. Because of this difficulty, it is sometimes unsuccessful.
Skin grafts to create a new nipple are less popular since “most patients don’t want to have another surgery and another scar,” Dr. Leo Keegan, an assistant clinical professor of surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai told the New York Times.
One option some women have sought is to have nipple tattoos drawn to improve the appearance of their breasts after surgery and reconstruction are all done.
While some women have had breast tattoos placed by a breast surgeon, the doctor may only have limited tattoo experience and the results may be less than desirable.
The nipples may not have the proper coloring or lack the subtle shadowing that a tattoo artist can provide. Some women of color have ended up with pink nipples, for instance, instead of brown-toned ones.
P.INK , which stands for Personal Ink, is an organization that connects women to tattoo artists who have scar or mastectomy experience. The artists are able to provide any kind of art, not just nipple tattoos. These tattooed self expressions can help women healing from breast cancer feel like they are taking their bodies back.
P.INK started with Molly, a breast cancer survivor who felt scarred after breast cancer surgery. She had difficulty finding tattoo artists who had the skills to help breast cancer survivors. In response to her need, P.INK was started by Noel Franus, her brother-in-law, who is vice president of an advertising agency in Boulder, Colorado.
You can watch Molly’s video here describing her journey after her surgery.
If you decide to use the skills of a tattoo artist, you want to know that you have a safe and competent one.