With one in nine women going through breast cancer each year in New Zealand there are several who need to experience either a unilateral (single) or bilateral (double) mastectomy.
This can be devastating for a woman and her sense of self both physically and emotionally. The good news is skilled surgeons can create beautifully reconstructed breasts for women which can help them feel confident and comfortable again.
Part of that process can be the creation of a new areola and nipple by way of cosmetic tattooing. This procedure requires a highly skilled tattooist and in the right hands creates astonishing results.
It’s a specialist skill and one which requires solid experience and a certain amount of artistic skill. Melissa Carr is a sought-after cosmetic and medical tattooist with clients coming from all over the country for her 3D nipple areola technique treatment.
“When ladies first come to see me they’re understandably nervous, but by their second visit they’re more bubbly and positive,” says Melissa. “Even my most confident clients say they had no idea of the emotional effects of having a simulated nipple and areola again.”
Melissa can give a woman an incredibly realistic areola and nipple 12 months after she’s come out the other end of treatment for breast cancer.
“I do a thorough consultation with the ladies first. I then draw a design on her breast—this is specific and individual to her desired result,” says Melissa. “Once she’s happy with this we’ll proceed with the tattooing. Though the breast is flat at first, and without a nipple, the 3D technique I use gives the visual effect of a raised nipple.”
Following the first treatment, a second visit is required to give the tattoo an adjustment period and see how the skin holds the pigment. “We’re working on scar tissue, even if it’s not visible the underlying tissue is scarred so we need to do a follow up where a small touch up maybe necessary,” says Melissa.
After treatment Melissa applies a waterproof surgical dressing for seven days, followed by an aftercare cream for five days.
One of Melissa’s clients, Taryn underwent a double mastectomy when she was just 33 and went to Melissa for cosmetic tattooing. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw them in the mirror,” she says. “I had breasts back, and that’s pretty incredible. It’s really nice to feel a little bit normal again.”
“For me, this isn’t a job, it’s close to my heart,” says Melissa. “I love to be part of these ladies journey, doing something that changes lives lights me up.”