Game-changing Tattoos For Cancer Survivors

There are eyebrow tattoos, eyeliner tattoos, lip tattoos, permanent under-eye concealers and now, nipple tattoos! However, they are more than just permanent makeup because these nipple tats are changing the game for breast cancer survivors.

Women who end up having mastectomies often lose their nipples and areolas in the process. As a result, some may opt to undergo breast reconstruction in which permanent colouring will then be applied to where the nipple would be. However, their flat, off-colour “areolas” are unrealistic.

Hence, the creation of three-dimensional (3D) tattoos of areola for women who’ve lost theirs to breast cancer. Tattoo artist, Vinnie Myers said, “When you’re looking at those breasts, all you see are the scars, and all you’re reminded of is cancer.”

Vinnie Myers sketches a rough circle on a reconstructed breast before tattooing.


He continued, “So when you put the 3D tattoo there, it distracts your eye from all those other imperfections because you have something to look at that’s very pleasing, and it’s an incredibly emotional finishing touch.”

Myyers began tattooing 3D nipples in 2001 and after 18 years, tons of tattoo artists are learning the skills to make cancer victims feel whole again.

Vinnie Myers tattoos a nipple on breast cancer survivor Robin Denny

Shaughnessy Keely said, “There’s always tears. One of my clients even wrote a poem, saying that I gave her something she didn’t think she could have again”.

“[Another client] didn’t think there was anything sexual about her breasts anymore. Then, as soon as I tattooed her, she was like, OMG.”

Source: Shaughnessy Keely

Source: Shaughnessy Keely

Meanwhile, tattoo artist Piret Aava said of the process, “Shapes, sizes, colour theory, light, how to change scars, the angle and pressure of the needle, the tightness of the skin. You treat scars first if they’re in the area. There’s hundreds of pigments to choose from. And to make it look three-dimensional and raised in the middle, it takes some practice on paper.”

Just like semi-permanent brow tattoos, areola tattoos are made by depositing pigment just under the outer layers of the skin. It requires a medical-grade cosmetic tattoo machine, which penetrates slightly deeper, giving it more intricate shading techniques to work through the stubborn scar tissue.

The price for realistic nipples? Approximately $1,500 (RM 6,127)! That’s a huge price to pay but then again, it isn’t an easy skill to develop which can take months or even years to perfect it.