Tattooing for breast cancer survivors


[dropcap]R[/dropcap]estorative or medical tattooing for breast cancer survivors lets women restore their self-esteem and body image, according to Linda Dixon, president of the American Academy of Micropigmentation.

The Chicago Permanent Cosmetics Center LLC, located at 3545 Lake Ave., Ste. 100 in Wilmette, is one area facility that provides this service to survivors. The procedure involves reconstructing areolas and nipples with cosmetic tattooing, or micro pigmentation, on women who have undergone mastectomies.

Micropigmentation for areolas helps by adding color, which makes the breasts look more realistic and natural, according to Michael Astor, office manager of Chicago Permanent Cosmetics Center. “It takes two to three 30-minute sessions, three weeks apart, to complete the cosmetic procedure,” said Astor. “Feathering and shading are two techniques that make the areolas and nipples look less flat.”

“Women should wait at least a year before going in for the procedure because that’s how long it takes for surgical scars to stop forming,” said Elena Astor, micropigmentologist at the Chicago Permanent Cosmetics Center. “During the third session, I apply a lot of artistic skill and make sure they look like regular areolas,” she added.

If scars are present on the breasts, Astor removes them using percutaneous collagen induction therapy (PCIT).

“The scar practically disappears. What’s even better is the color of the scar becomes more like a skin color,” said Astor.

Infection is a risk of the procedure, because pigment is a foreign body so it’s important to make sure that the needles used are sterilized or disposable one-time use needles, said Astor.

It’s important that women be aware that there are different kinds of pigments as well, because there are different risks associated with some pigment inks. For example, iron oxide exists in some, which heat up during an MRI and cause discomfort so it’s best to find a pigment that doesn’t contain the iron oxide, said Astor.

“Some pigments can change color or fade over time as well, so women may have to come back for a touch-up if the right kinds of pigments aren’t initially used,” said Astor.

Astor charges $300 per session, which is generally covered by her clients’ insurance, she said.

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