A Third Option: Tattoos after a Mastectomy Due to Breast Cancer

Having a mastectomy due to breast cancer can be an emotionally traumatic experience for many women. It hits at the heart of who they are as women, and it can feel difficult, if not impossible, to recover from this trauma. At the AiRS Foundation, we help women who cannot afford reconstruction pay for the surgical procedures to make them feel whole again. But this option isn’t for everyone. Some women opt out of reconstruction, choosing to accept their body the way it is. And these days, more and more women are opting for a third option: ink.

Getting a beautiful or edgy tattoo can be a form of healing from a mastectomy due to breast cancer.

Tattoos are becoming a popular third alternative to healing after a mastectomy due to breast cancer. Some women choose to have a tattoo artist recreate a drawing of their nipples. Others opt for elaborate floral designs that cross their chests and even extend down their ribcages. Still, others choose symbols that are meaningful to their lives, which they then ink onto the skin where their breasts used to be. Some even undergo breast reconstruction and tattoo the skin around their breasts as a symbol of the change their bodies have suffered.

There isn’t just one way to heal from a mastectomy. Some women enjoy being creative as they heal.

The tattoos help women heal for several reasons. They often cover up scars that women feel self-conscious about or simply don’t like to see. These scars sometimes cause people to stare at the beach or the swimming pool, leaving women feeling deformed and embarrassed. Replacing the scars with something beautiful or unique to the woman’s identity not only helps her feel more confident, but also restores her sense of self.

Many tattoo artists focus solely on helping women recover from a mastectomy by designing intricate, meaningful tattoos that work around the scarred tissues to create something beautiful on the skin. The P.NK organization helps women connect with tattoo artists in their area who focus on creating tattoos for women who’ve had mastectomies. Most experienced tattoo artists find this kind of work rewarding, as well. When choosing an artist, it’s important that you feel comfortable with him or her and, of course, that you like the design.

If you or a loved one is facing a mastectomy due to breast cancer, we hope you realize there are options for healing after the surgery, whether you choose to undergo reconstruction, tattoo your chest, or simply heal with other survivors.

Help us help women!

We’re not kidding when we say your donation counts. We rely on small donations to fund our grants for breast cancer. If you or a loved one has experienced the effects of cancer, or if you simply want to give back, we hope you’ll consider making a donation to the AiRS Foundation. Every dollar — even just one dollar — makes an enormous impact!