Tattoo Artist Helps Breast Cancer Survivors Feel Whole Again

USATODAY_HumankindPublished: October 20, 201719,740 views
Published: October 20, 2017

Marianne Sarcich is a unilateral mastectomy survivor. She had reconstructive surgery, but the implant didn’t help her feel like herself. She avoided looking down when she would get dressed in the morning, not wanting to look at her scar and the white flesh that remained where she once had a nipple.

A year after her surgery, Marianne went to the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine in Philadelphia to see a different kind of specialist. She went to see tattoo artist Mandy Sauler, who works out of the University of Pennsylvania's plastic surgery office, to get a #d areola and nipple tattooed on her scar.

Everybody talks about these unusual tattoos, the areola and nipple restoration for breast cancer survivors. For women like Marianne, it often marks the last breast cancer-related treatment, helping bring closure to a difficult period in their lives. Some of the clients have a faux nipple created surgically and then a tattoo artist colors in the area. In Marianne’s case, Mandy used trompe l'oeil effect, to make it appear like there is a nipple there, when in fact it is a smooth surface. The second-generation tattoo artist uses micropigmentation to make that 3D nipple look almost identical to a woman's remaining nipple or the ones she had prior to surgery.

Mandy grew up in her mom’s tattoo shop and made the first tattoo at the age of 14. She drew stick figures out of another tattoo artist’s scars. When she heard about cosmetic tattoos, she wanted to learn more and in her mid-20, she went to Florida to apprentice for an artist. Now she does everything from eyeliner, brown, lips, scar camouflage and areola and nipple tattoos at two medical offices.

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