Why Nipple Tattoos Are Changing Women's Lives

It's not as weird as you think.
by Sandra Pineda
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Nipple tattoos sound weird, but for tattoo artist Vinnie Myers, it's kind of a big deal. Vinnie has teamed up with Dr. Scott Sullivan at the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery in New Orleans to design 3D nipple tattoos—or "nats"—for women who've gone through a mastectomy after surviving breast cancer.

Caitlin Kiernan, one of  Vinnie's clients, had a double mastectomy and admitted that she opted to get nats because she "wanted to feel comfortable naked," adding, "I wanted to look normal again. I wanted to feel normal again."

How does the procedure work? A plastic surgeon gets a section of tissue from an area of the body, and uses that to create the new nipple. And while that procedure in itself is pretty awesome already, the nipple doesn't look real, because there's no color. The tattoo artist's job is to mix pigments together, so the client can get a natural-looking shade on her nipples.

Vinnie said he wanted to quit tattooing nipples on women a long time ago, because the process was just taking too much time. But one day he got a call from his sister who said she was diagnosed with breast cancer."I kind of felt like that was a sign that I should keep doing this."

"You definitely lose the artistic satisfaction that you get when you're doing nipple tattoos all day. And you don't get that same gratification when you finish a back piece or a sleeve. But you gain this other satisfaction that's even more rewarding," he said.

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