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How Nipple Tattoos Are Helping Breast Cancer Survivors Heal

After undergoing reconstructive surgery following her mastectomy, Lisa Chavis decided to have areolas tattooed onto her new breasts—a trend that is helping some breast cancer survivors mark the end of their treatment.

by Kimberly Lawson
31 January 2017, 5:00am

As Lisa Chavis sits inside Haylo Healing Arts Lounge, a tattoo and permanent makeup studio in Charlotte, North Carolina, she admits she's had a little liquid courage to prepare herself for this day.

In May 2016, Chavis was diagnosed with breast cancer in the areola. It wasn't invasive, she says, but the treatment plan was a mastectomy. She ultimately decided to have both breasts removed because, as she puts it, "I'm a 54-year-old woman. I just thought, let's just get rid of them both to prevent [this] from happening in the future. I'm not having any more babies, it's not that important of a thing—it's just a boob."

Before she underwent the procedure, though, Chavis had to make a decision about her reconstruction: Would she leave her new breasts as is—meaning, as she puts it, looking "like a Barbie Doll" without any nipples?

She also thought about the option to have new nipples created surgically. By the time a cancer survivor makes it to this stage, she's typically dealt with a slew of medical procedures and treatments, and may not want to undergo another surgery. That was the case for Chavis.

Alternatively, Chavis could have gone the artistic route and opted for a brightly colored tattoo to cover her scars and commemorate her journey.

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