Once you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, the road ahead can be long and difficult, filled with countless hours of chemotherapy, radiation, pain, and strength. Some people with breast cancer undergo a mastectomy, removing part or all of either both or one of their breasts. People with a history of breast cancer in their family may even undergo this procedure in advance as a precaution.
Once the mastectomy has happened, life afterward may feel different. What was once there is no longer, or there is scarring, or you feel uncomfortable in your skin.
Your feelings are completely valid, and how you choose to heal is completely up to you. Luckily, there are several methods a person can try to reclaim their autonomy over their body.
Some people will undergo breast reconstruction surgery and get implants or breast prostheses, or if they are comfortable, they will simply exist in their body post-surgery with no enhancements. And some people choose an artistic and creative path to reclaim their chest by tattooing their breasts.
What Is a Mastectomy Tattoo?
This concept of tattooing over the area where the mastectomy has taken place is a mastectomy tattoo. These tattoos often cover up the scar on the chest artistically, bringing beauty and confidence to the person’s body.
Mastectomy tattoos are a way for a person to reclaim their body in a way that they feel best suits them. The design you end up with is likely a direct reflection of who you are and is meant to make you feel good in your skin.
Why Do People Get Mastectomy Tattoos?
People get mastectomy tattoos for many reasons, and not all people get a mastectomy to cover the scars. For some, getting a tattoo to cover up the mastectomy scars is a way to reclaim their body and feel in control of how it looks.
If you get a mastectomy, it’s likely that you will end up with scars, but what you do with them is up to you. A mastectomy tattoo is a choice and is unlikely to be covered by your insurance, but it can bring a sense of peace and happiness back to a person who might have been struggling.
So whether you get a mastectomy tattoo to cover your scars, to feel more confident, or to mark an extremely significant time in your life (or all three), it’s up to you and will be meaningful and beautiful no matter what.
How long after a mastectomy can you get a tattoo?
To get a tattoo, you must wait until the operation site is completely healed. This will take at least one year, but you should wait for longer to ensure there are no other issues with the healing process.
Healthcare providers will also suggest you finish any medications or treatments like chemotherapy before getting a mastectomy tattoo. Your body will heal easier if you are healthy. Of course, consulting with your treatment team can help you get a better idea of what your timeline will look like.
What Tattoo Artists Do Mastectomy Tattoos?
If you are set on getting a mastectomy tattoo during the healing period, you can start reaching out to artists and thinking about a design you’d like to do. It’s in your best interest to research and find an artist who is comfortable and familiar with these kinds of tattoos.
You’ll want to find a shop or artists you are comfortable with and trust as professionals. This is a very personal project; you deserve to be comfortable and happy. The artist should be willing to work with you closely to achieve your goals.
Designing Your Mastectomy Tattoo
When coming up with a design for a mastectomy tattoo, you may go two ways: let the artist come up with something unique or guide them by sharing inspiration pictures on what’s important to you.
Everyone has symbols and concepts that are meaningful to them, so take your time to come up with a design concept that’s specific to you.
Floral designs are always a go-to when it comes to mastectomy tattoos. They are always beautiful, and flower shapes suit the chest area well. Many people have deep connections to particular flowers through family, friends, or loving memories.
Flowers hold specific meanings and generally celebrate the essence of rebirth and life. For example, marigolds symbolize renewal and vitality, and daffodils symbolize hope and inspiration.
Along with flowers, greenery like ivy and myrtle are commonly seen in many tattoos. They have great movement and flow, so they can follow along the curves of your body or even along your scarring. If you want a tattoo that flows easily and transitions across your body easily, greenery can give this sort of effect.
You can also combine greenery with floral tattoos to have a more full and intentional feel to the piece. Pick your favorite kinds and create a design with your tattoo artist.
3. 3D Nipples
Some people will seek out cosmetic tattoo artists that can create the look of a 3D nipple. During a mastectomy, one or both nipples are sometimes removed, which might affect you post-operation.
A 3D nipple tattoo gives the impression that you have a nipple and can be affirming to see, bringing comfort to many who have undergone the procedure. You’ll want to work with someone who specifically deals with this kind of tattoo to get the most realistic tattoo done.
4. Wings and Winged Creatures
Another design idea comes in the form of wings. Some people will get angel wings, bird wings, feathers, or butterflies tattooed onto their chests. Not only does the layout of a winged-creature work nicely for placement on a chest, but they often symbolize strength, rebirth, and transformation.
Butterflies are delicate creatures that are unique in their beauty. Each has a story and symbolization, which you can choose specifically to mirror your own story. Angel wings signify protection and guardianship; a chest piece can focus those protections over the healed area.
Using Mad Rabbit’s Products To Support Healing
Whatever design you end up with, you will likely hold it close to your heart. You will want this tattoo to heal properly, and with Mad Rabbit tattoo products, you can be sure they will.
You will want this tattoo to heal nicely and stay vibrant for as long as possible, and Mad Rabbit products have that in mind.
Mastectomy - StatPearls | NCBI Bookshelf
Mastectomy Tattoos: An Emerging Alternative For Reclaiming Self | NCBI
Finishing Touches: Expanding Access To Nipple-Areola Tattooing As A Component Of Postmastectomy Breast Reconstruction | NCBI
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