Imagine waking up, looking in the mirror and not recognizing your own body — the same body you’d learned to love over the course of your life. For many women diagnosed with breast cancer or labeled high risk for developing breast cancer in their lifetime, this is their reality. In order to stay in the fight, they’ve been faced with forever altering how they look by getting a mastectomy.
For a long time, it was only women diagnosed with breast cancer who were told they needed to have either a single or double mastectomy, but this is changing. Due to advances in genetic testing and early detection, the number of women choosing to have this surgery is increasing. And in the US, the percentage of patients aged 20 to 44 opting for surgical mastectomies has increased from 10 percent in 2004 to 33 percent as of 2012 and from 4 to 10 percent for those 45 and up.
Women continue to take control of this disease and how it affects their life, including how they honor this invasive and arduous surgery. While some choose to undergo reconstruction, having their breasts recreated via implant or flap, others opt not to reconstruct. Regardless of which route they take, many women are getting post-mastectomy tattoos. There are a number of tattoo artists who specialize in mastectomy tattoos that can recreate a woman’s nipple or use their breasts as a canvas for incredible pieces of art that honor the mastectomy journey and the resilience of women across the world.
Here are a few mastectomy scar tattoos that are so beautiful, they may inspire other survivors to get inked.
‘A beautiful experience’
Artists can’t help but admire the strength it takes to sit for a chest piece.
Artists are consistently wowed by the trust it takes to sit for a piece like this.
These tattoos offer the chance to turn something painful into something uniquely beautiful.
There are also hyper-realistic options that mirror natural nipples and artists who work to help survivors reclaim whatever kind of look they want.
One artist called this piece ‘a final positive part of [her client’s] long journey’
And, ultimately, after a traumatic experience like breast cancer, taking control over how you want your body to look and feel can be so freeing: ‘This is freedom, this is confidence’
Not only do these mastectomy tattoos have gorgeous designs but helping create them is often one way for women to take back their body autonomy and feel beautiful post-surgery. And it’s yet another way we can witness and support the healing process for breast cancer patients and survivors.
Before you go, check out these products patients and survivors of breast cancer can actually use: