Breast Cancer Awareness
How can Medical Tattooing help you when you have recovered from Breast Cancer?
After what is often a lengthy journey of doctor’s appointments, treatments, and healing, most people are often glad to see the back of all those appointments, and get on with what is known as ‘normal life’.
However, there is one more treatment that can aid the ‘back to life’ process which a lot of people have never heard of and often not mentioned during the course of recovery.
If you have had to, or chosen to undergo a mastectomy and breast reconstruction, you will probably have been advised that you can also have nipple surgery to recreate the nipple on the reconstructed breast/s. What a lot of people don’t know is that this recreated nipple and breast is fully skin coloured, and you will have no areola present. This can mean looking in the mirror, or getting changed in gyms or swimming pools can be nerve-wracking at most, and uncomfortable at least, as once again there is a visible difference that can be perceived by others or by oneself when glancing in a mirror.
Nipple/Areola Medical Tattooing
Medical Tattooing can help change this. Medical Tattooing is different from normal body tattooing due to using pigment as colour rather than ink. Ink, when inserted into the skin will remain in the dermal layer as it is a large molecule, too big to move through the other layers of skin. What it will do though is break down to primary and secondary colours often leaving a bright orange, a yellow, or a purple/lilac colour long term. The ink will show as brown, pink, cream when mixed, but does not tend to hold over the years.
I have seen this myself when working in the NHS running the Medical Tattoo clinic for Nipple Areola Complex, and within one week, I saw a lady with bright orange areola, and one with lilac areola. Both explained how they had gone to a normal body tattooist as they didn’t know there were any alternatives. Both said the areola looked great at first, and then within 6 months the colour changed and they were devastated with the impact this had on them. Rather than go back to the tattooist they went to their doctor who directed them through NHS services and onto me.
Pigment will hold its colour, it will fade over time but won’t change into a primary or secondary colour. If a very warm or cool colour tone is used it may fade to a soft red/pink or a cool blue/grey, but can be colour corrected so the fading process next time is a soft brown / pink / cream depending on the area being tattooed and the colour required.
Medical Tattooing Treatment
Whether you have a unilateral reconstruction or bilateral (one or two breasts) needing tattooing the process is similar. Size, shape and colour will be discussed with you in detail. Placement will be shown and moved until you are happy and only then will the tattooing start. Usually, two to three treatments are needed to get the required effect. If you have sensitivity in the area, anaesthetic will be used throughout the treatment to keep you comfortable. The treatment will take approximately one and a half to two hours for each session, and you will be kept comfortable throughout this time. Once the tattooing is finished, a dressing will be applied that needs to stay on for 48 hours with no shower or bath during this time. A nice gentle flannel wash will have to do!
The healing takes approximately one week, but during this time you can still continue all your normal day-to-day activities.
Prior knowledge of this process as well as the availability of medical tattooing for your brows, if you have lost brow hair due to chemotherapy treatment, would benefit most people, as often they have to spend time and energy looking for someone, or worst of all, don’t even know this is available and just carry on without it. Prior knowledge would enable people to prepare and plan, something that is essential when lives are so busy.
It may also help reduce the panic some people feel knowing they are going to look different afterwards, and Medical tattooing can aid this process with a return to their former look as much as possible.
The testimonial below is from my patient who had areola medical tattooing :
“At the age of 29 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s been a long and at times exhausting journey, after 6 lots of surgery including a double mastectomy / DIEP, chemotherapy and finally radiotherapy, l was lucky to have lots of support from family and friends, I am now 10 years clear. After all the surgery it really did not feel a priority or important to me to have my areola medical tattooing completed, but after receiving my sign-off after 10 years I made the decision to complete my journey.
I contacted Rae and really did not expect the results to be as good as they are, I am so happy with them and finally feel that my journey is complete and this has made me feel like a woman completely again. I feel sexy and attractive again, I really wish I had contacted Rae earlier to have this done. She explained everything so well, was extremely professional, made me feel comfortable, took into account all my concerns, took her time to ensure I received the best treatment and correct treatment for me.
Thank you Rae I am so grateful.”