“I’ve always been artistic and thought: maybe I can learn that.”
Breast cancer survivor Mary Hauser is a paramedical cosmetic tattoo.
After Mary Hauser had a preventive double mastectomy in 2013, her surgeon told her about an alternative to nipple reconstruction that sounded like a golden ticket. It was almost painless, several thousand dollars cheaper, and reduced her risk of breast cancer to zero. The only problem? Her doctor didn’t know anyone in Indiana who offered nipple tattoos in a medical setting, and she couldn’t find a local tattoo parlor to do the job. Hauser went to Ohio to get hers. “I’ve always been artistic and thought, maybe I can learn that,” she says.
She enrolled in Florida for a year-long paramedical cosmetic tattoo artist training course and returned to Indiana as one of the few people in the state to be trained in 3-D areola tattoo reconstruction. She now worked at Hendricks Regional Health Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in Danville. Most patients get their first tattoos and would not feel comfortable in a tattoo parlor. Although the tattoos don’t protrude from the chest, Hauser uses shading techniques to make them appear raised. The process takes a few hours and is insured (an areola tattoo costs $ 375).
Jennifer Miller, a 41-year-old mother of four who got nipple tattoos from Hauser last year, is amazed at how real the nipples look. “I feel like I don’t have to be ashamed of the process my body went through,” she says. “I feel whole again.”