Healing Through Art:
How Tattoos are Healing Mastectomy Scars
Throughout 2017, around 72 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer every day. Most of these women will undergo surgery as part of their treatment, whether it’s a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy; unilateral mastectomy, which removes the entire breast affected by cancer; or a double or bilateral mastectomy, which removes both the affected and unaffected breast.
Taking Back their Bodies
While some opt for breast reconstruction with implants, many others do not, whether it’s health issues that make the surgery out of the question, or the cost. Others yet simply don’t want to have another surgery following their treatment. Some of these women are turning to tattoo artists to help them take back their bodies.
In an article in Woman’s Day, breast cancer survivor Kari Hitchcock says, “When I saw my tattoo, I was so happy. Now I don’t see the scars. Yes, they are still there, but the beautiful art I have now eclipses them and I smile every time I see it.”
Things to Consider
Before getting a tattoo over mastectomy scars, there are a few important things to take into consideration. First things first: always check with your doctor to ensure getting a tattoo is right for you.
You also need to guarantee you’ve given yourself enough time to recover; you should wait about one to two years in order to give your skin time to heal and ward off the chances of infection.
Also ask yourself if you’re emotionally ready. In the words of Dr. Mark Migliori, a surgeon with MMK Plastic Surgery in Edina, Minnesota, before getting a tattoo, it’s important for patients to experience the grieving process that comes after breast cancer and mastectomy. The tattoo shouldn’t be seen a cover-up, he says, but a triumph.
If you want to know more, we love, love, love a video you can find on P.ink’s website at http://p-ink.org. It gives a great inside look into why one woman opted to visit a tattoo artist following her mastectomy. (Just have tissues handy.)