These can be used to heal the trauma caused by cancer, such as post-mastectomy tattoos or eyebrow microblading following chemotherapy.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month will be filled with many discussions about the importance of grooming and the ability to restore privacy. There are other beauty treatments that can help with the healing of breast cancer trauma.
London cosmetic tattoo artist, Nez Hasan, spends a lot of time restoring naturally thinned or overplucked eyebrows of healthy women. (Me included – I trust every one of you), using microblading. This is where each “lash” is painlessly shaved into the skin to create a lasting effect that lasts 18-24 months. Her favorite work is with patients undergoing chemotherapy. Hasan prioritizes their appointments, working late if necessary, so that she can create new eyebrows using the existing ones. She says, “This way, I can avoid the shock of total eyebrow loss as hairs fall out.” She can also rebuild lost eyebrows. This is a trickier option, but it’s still extremely effective and almost as natural as the original.
Hasan began her training as a permanent trompe-l’oeil expert in the removal of partial or complete mastectomy scars. Her favourite Nipple tattoo is done 12 months after surgery when the immune system has fully recovered. However, Hasan may sometimes use microneedling to smoothen scars. This involves meticulously drawing 3D photorealistic areas using black, brown, red, and white inks.
There are variations in skin tone and surface, as well as small wrinkles, which match a tattooed nipple to its untattooed sister. Many patients find the treatment life-changing. Hasan sees many cancer patients free of charge and keeps a treasure trove of letters of gratitude.
However, some cancer survivors feel so transformed that they prefer to celebrate their journey than hide it. Rebecca Vincent, my own tattoo artist has covered many a post-mastectomy breast with botanical designs. Like Hasan, she considers it a great honor to help someone recover. Vincent was asked by a woman to arrange a riot hibiscus blooms over her post-surgery chest. She said she wanted something “beautiful to grow from it” rather than something less friendly. Vincent says that this work is not just decoration, but reclamation.