Tattoo Artists Help Women Complete Breast Cancer Journey

Women who have mastectomies to combat breast cancer face a lot of emotion: They're grateful they beat the disease, but must either decide to get reconstructive surgery or live without breasts. Many women who choose the reconstruction route battle with the reality that their new chest doesn't quite look like the old one. However, some artists are working to change that. 

According to Mount Pleasant ABC affiliate WCIV, Sharon Dempsey opted to have reconstructive surgery after beating breast cancer. Her surgeon took fat from her abdomen and used it to construct realistic breasts, even forming nipples from her skin. While the surgeon can create the shape and appearance of nipples, folding skin doesn't create the same color and texture. That's where a medically trained tattoo artist steps in.

Kimberly Kay blended ink colors to match a natural tone for Dempsey's nipples. She used tattoo techniques to paint an areola and create a realistic nipple. Tattooing Dempsey, or anyone with scar tissue, is more challenging than tattooing undamaged skin. The texture is rough and Kay had to be precise. The end result was worth it.

"Well my tattoos are symbolic. My tattoos symbolize that's the end," Dempsey told the source. "I made it. It's over, yeah. I did it."

Kay is just one medical tattoo artist creating new nipples for women who survived breast cancer. Many artists do similar work, helping survivors close the final chapter on their journey. 

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