tattoo artist making breast cancer survivors feel ‘whole again’
A year after her mastectomy and seven months after her last surgery to slip silicone implants into her reconstructed breasts, Jennifer Bohling disrobes down to her pants and stands up. She takes off the paper drape covering her bare torso and turns to face the man she has met just minutes earlier.
“How do they look?” she asks.
Vinnie Myers stares carefully at each of Bohling’s breasts. He gently pinches the skin in some spots and taps other areas with a gloved finger before giving his initial assessment.
“They look good. They look really good,” he says, calling the shape of her new breasts “fantastic.” But not so good, he informs her, are the scars running horizontally through each one.
“The incision is exactly where I have to work, which isn’t good. It’s going to make it more tricky,” he says
Like the top medical specialists he often works with, Myers is in high demand, but not as a doctor.
Once internationally renowned for his tattoo artistry, Myers is now a legend in breast cancer circles for what has become his exclusive specialty: inking areolas and nipples so realistic they seem like the genuine articles.
‘I want them to feel good’
About 231,800 women will be diagnosed this year with breast cancer. A portion of them will end up having mastectomies. During most mastectomies, doctors remove the diseased tissue inside a breast, often taking the nipples and areolas in the process. Women who undergo breast reconstruction often get permanent coloring applied to where the nipples would be, but they have long complained that the flat, off-color results are unrealistic.