A colorful alternative to mastectomy surgery

Local News

Two local tattoo artists are using their skills to help women after breast cancer surgery.

Medical tattooing covers surgical scars and can help the mindset of cancer survivors. It’s also a way for people to deal with the trauma of a mastectomy.

Whether it’s a mastectomy, or whatever it is, it’s really about all of us just wanting to feel beautiful,” Ron O’Tool, owner of O’Tool Design Custom Tattoo, said.

Both men and women have several options following breast cancer surgery.

“Some of them are ones that have gone through their battle, and they’ve finally gotten to where they’re cleared, and they get to take a breath of fresh air, and then they decide that they want to start fixing things up for whatever had happened to them surgery-wise,” Quad Cities-based tattoo artist Jack Fulscher said.

Some women choose to go flat, while others get implants. Some have traditional breast reconstruction surgery, but there is one option that is more colorful and memorable than others.

“I’ve also had other people that have gone through, and they’ve had a full mastectomy, and they’ll want something to go over the scar,” Fulscher said. “They’ll want something to kind of commemorate, or something to display that they went through that kind of a battle, and they made it through.”

Mastectomy tattoos are designed for when surgeons cannot spare the nipple during a mastectomy.

“Every tattoo has a story, and once you sit down with clients, you’ll have a tendency to open up with them, and they’ll have a tendency to open up with you, and it’s all real personal,” O’Tool said. “But really, deep down inside, it’s really a beautiful thing.”

It’s a more sentimental and vivid alternative to cover or highlight battle scars.

“There’s a lot of different artwork styles that you can do with a mastectomy,” O’Tool said. “So what they would do is they would pick and choose how they want their artwork to look, and then we would discuss that, and we would work with them on making sure that their experience was 100% unique, and they’re walking away happy.”

Both tattoo artists note mastectomy tattoos and breast cancer ribbon tattoos are some of their more popular tattoos.

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