- Medical tattoos, designed to replicate nipples and camouflage scars, have become popular.
- A medical-tattoo artist and two clients say the tattoos have physical and emotional benefits.
- These are their stories, as told to Jane Ridley.
Medical tattoos have become popular in recent years.
Researchers at the University of Central Florida said in a paper published in the journal Aesthetic Surgery Journal Open Forum in 2021 that the technique was “increasingly used with many medical conditions,” adding that it could help camouflage scars, burns, and vitiligo.
People who’ve had breast cancer can get the tattoos to simulate the appearance of nipples after a mastectomy. A 2020 paper by researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center suggested that “tattoos are safer than nipple reconstruction with grafts.”
Jenean LaCorte, 45, a classically trained artist who works as a medical tattooist, founded her one-woman business in 2018. She switched from watercolor painting to the tattoo business after a relative who’d had cancer got nipples tattooed on her breasts following surgery.
“She was disappointed with the results, and I thought, ‘People deserve better'” LaCorte told Insider.
She specializes in 3D effects that can imitate the look of areolae. “I use delicate shading techniques,” LaCorte said.
She said the procedure — which costs about $600 — is offered at a discount to some breast-cancer survivors who can’t afford it, as well as to some people with self-harm scars.
“We get a lot of donations,” LaCorte said. The fund for her clients’ tattoos is also supported by Desert Harvest, a company that makes an aloe-vera cream for tattooed skin.
These as-told-to essays are based on conversations with LaCorte, Kara Kenan, and Samantha Warmbrodt. They have been edited for length and clarity.