Some women who are diagnosed with breast cancer must undergo a single or double mastectomy procedure. Health care providers recommend this treatment option because it completely removes the infected breast tissue and limits the chance of the cancer returning. But even when mastectomies are not medically necessary, many women opt to have them, for added peace of mind, physical symmetry, and a variety of other reasons.
Breast reconstruction surgery is available to help women feel complete once again, but sometimes it isn’t enough. Breast cancer survivor Michelle Kolath-Arbel was diagnosed in 2010 and became upset once she learned her mastectomy procedure would require the removal of her nipple as well.
Kolath-Arbel, a production director for an advertising firm, felt the shape of her new breast was unrealistic and wasn’t happy with the prosthetic nipples that were on the market. They took three months to ship from China and were thick and rubbery, very obviously fake. They didn’t make her feel more whole or more feminine. So Kolath-Arbel set out to create her own.
She spent a year studying with a silicone artist before making her first nipple.
“For the first pair I made, I found friends who had also been sick,” Kolath-Arbel told the source. “One put it on and started crying. All the doctors said, ‘We were waiting for someone to do this.'”
Kolath-Arbel’s delicately handcrafted nipples look exactly like a real nipple, down to the smallest details. They’re made of silicone and stretch easily, and they can be worn in the shower or swimming pool with the help of a medical-grade adhesive. The edges are thin and nearly transparent, helping the nipple blend in with the rest of the skin. And they come in as many natural colors as you can imagine, including custom.
Kolath-Arbel founded the company Pink Perfect, based in Kfar Saba, Israel, to sell her custom and ready-made prosthetic nipples. She worked with a silicone artist to create the realistic looking prosthetics. Each one can be attached to the skin with a medical adhesive. The prosthetics are available for purchase onlineand come in a variety of colors to ensure a natural match.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?